Geelong Catenary Lighting

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The City of Greater Geelong (City) sought to improve amenity and public interest in the city centre and increase pedestrian use of the facilities in the downtown area with a feature catenary structure to support lighting, as well as other temporary or seasonal decorations for Christmas, etc.

GHD was commissioned to carry out a concept design for a catenary, based on our prior experience in this area. We prepared six different concept design options from which the City selected the preferred catenary featuring a ‘tent-like’ shape. Further to this, we produced the detailed design and construction drawings.

Durability and illumination

There are four adjacent buildings which are utilised to support the catenary, three of which are heritage buildings. As there were no records of the existing buildings available, complex site investigations were required to determine the buildings’ form and their capacity to support the catenary.

The new structure imposes high lateral loads on the supporting buildings, which they were not originally designed for. As a result, significant strengthening was required at two of the buildings to ensure adequate structural capacity. Additionally, two of the four adjacent buildings needed a supporting frame on the roof to be high enough to support the catenary. Our team managed a comprehensive stakeholder plan to ensure all parties were in agreement, in particular the owners of the affected assets.

Consideration was also given to the exposure of cabling and fixtures to coastal and extreme environments. These conditions required protective coatings and specification of parts with suitable durability.

Lighting the way for community benefits

The catenary is fabricated from stainless steel components, including cables and cable end fittings, spacers and struts incorporated into the catenary. There are two levels of attachment to adjacent buildings; the upper connection carries weight of catenary system, while the lower connection restrains the catenary structure and avoids excessive vertical movements.

To achieve the City’s objective, GHD used solid state lighting (LED) which has the ability to provide coloured light with digitally controlled variable patterning. The LED light fittings can vary in colour and intensity. Control of the display is centred at the City’s offices via in-ground optic fibre cable.

Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons turned on the lights on Friday 10 July 2015, blazing an array of LED colour throughout the city centre.

The outcomes of our work have enabled the City to better support shops, cafes and restaurants by attracting more people, including families, into the city at night.



We have a strong reputation, a record of accomplishment in providing world-leading technical support and advice for all areas of structural design and assessment.

Demand for GHD’s services continues to grow as the company completes and advises on a number of significant structural projects for some of the world’s tallest buildings, inlcuding Al-Bidaa Tower, Dubai Tower and the Doha Convention Center and Tower in the United Arab Emirates.

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