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External View on roof

Spaceframe Roof Structure

View on a typical walkway through the spaceframe

Roof to spaceframe connection closeup

Spaceframe during construction

Internal view of the National Indoor Arena


National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, UK

Completed in 1990, the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham provides a world class venue for hosting athletics and sporting events, concerts, and televised and live spectaculars and events.

MERO (UK) PLC. designed, fabricated and constructed the entire roof structure and cladding to this venue, which features a clear span of 128 x 90m, and covers an area of over 10,000m. With a site straddling the main London to Birmingham Intercity railway line, access and storage were very restricted. MERO’s spaceframe was perfectly suited to the site restrictions, due to it’s on-site construction and component packing and transportation characteristics.

Constructed from the MERO KK tube and node system, the double layer spaceframe roof structure uses almost 5000 tubes and 1300 nodes, has a 5m plan module, and a structural depth of between 8m at the eaves and 10m at the roof centreline. Utilising a horizontal bottom chord whilst varying the level of the top chord of the roof gives many benefits, including increased structural performance, integral rainwater runoff management, and a constant ceiling level allowing for great flexibility of application configuration. The roof incorporates almost 700m of catwalks, walkways and platforms inside the spaceframe, which provide for access to the lighting, audio and television services that are all suspended from the roof.

The roof is designed to support 170 items at 1.25 tonnes each and a further 200 items of 0.5 tonnes. Totalling 312 tonnes, this is in addition to the roof’s self weight of 424 tonnes and full snow loading. The loading requirements formed part of the brief, as the roof was to provide an important load bearing feature to potential users of the building. The long running UK television series, Gladiators, filmed in the arena between 1992 and 1998, featured many huge tasks that needed to be solely suspended from the roof, which made the venue the obvious choice for the show.

Purlins were bolted between the outside faces of each node, which in turn supported the steel deck of the roof cladding. The decking sheets were perforated to provide enhanced acoustic performance along with high density mineral wool laid in the troughs of the deck. A vapour barrier and 130mm of mineral wool batts were then laid ontop of the deck, and finally a 1.5mm thick waterproof membrane of PES reinforced PVC mechanically fixed through to the deck and heat sealed at joints to provide a consistant and durable waterproof finish to the building.

As part of MERO’s contract, a 30m high scaffold was erected from MERO spaceframe to provide not only access to construct the roof, but also to provide temporary support to the roof as it was constructed. This scaffold was erected as a 90m x 16m mobile gantry, which travelled along rail tracks laid on the arena floor. Built in an East to West direction, the gantry and roof advanced as the concrete support structure below was progressed and handed over.

As each fully spanning strip of roof was completed, the temporary props were lowered and removed, and the roof loaded under it’s self weight. The final roof deflections measured just 130mm whereas a deflection of 140mm had been calculated during the design process. MERO’s design and site installation expertise enabled the roof of the National Indoor Arena to be completed within the tight 29 week on-site construction programme.

[Download this project as a PDF document] 

_ _
Project Title:
National Indoor Arena Roof, Birmingham, UK
_ Scope of Works: 128 x 90m spaceframe roof, single ply cladding and guttering, 700m of integral walkways, catwalks and platforms
_ Cladding Details:

0.88mm thick Hoesch section E100A perforated steel decking, vapour barrier, high density mineral wool for acoustic performance laid in deck troughs, 130mm thick Isover mineral wool insulation, 1.5mm thick single ply PES reinforced PVC waterproofing membrane.

_ Steelwork Details: MERO KK Spaceframe, comprising of almost 5000 tube members and 1300 node joints
_ Year of Completion: 1990
_ Contract Duration: 29 weeks on site construction programme
M_ERO UK Architect: HOK International Ltd.
_ Main Contractor: Laing Midlands

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