Shielding its patrons from the effects of sun exposure, this aquatic venue has safe play sorted.

Given today’s knowledge about the harmful effects of prolonged exposure to the sun — particularly in the sunburnt country of Australia — it’s encouraging to see developers and councils taking shade seriously.

When Gladstone Regional Council undertook the construction of its $2.5 million aquatic centre, it made sure to specify the installation of durable and effective shade structures to protect its patrons from sun damage.

Gladstone Aquatic Centre features a 50-metre outdoor pool and a 25-metre indoor pool, and a water play zone known as the Splash Zone. This fun, sensory play area is designed with zero-depth pools for children up to 12 years of age and includes a splash pad, slides, water jets, cannons, sprays and bubblers, and a giant tipping bucket at its centre: a six-metre-high structure that fills with 500 litres of water in nine seconds before tipping its contents on the breathlessly waiting children below.

A long anticipated project for the regional area, the state-of-the-art leisure and training facility is a thriving community hub in Gladstone, providing year-round recreation amenity to locals and visitors alike. To guarantee the best facility for the community, the inclusion of shade structures was essential to its viability.

Working in collaboration with Brisbane-based architectural firm Argo and head contractor Beau Corp Aquatics, all-weather protection specialist Shadeform was engaged to design, manufacture and install five large-span Shaderunner® retractable sail systems for the Splash Zone waterplay area.

A fully retractable fabric canopy shade structure, Shaderunner® offers the beneficial convenience of folding coverage on demand. The functionality of the system allows the facility to control the level of shade provided for its patrons in accordance with weather conditions in real time; an essential advantage in a hot tropical climate.

Spanning wide sections of the pools, the Gladstone shade structures extend over 20 metres, without intrusive support poles beneath the shaded sections. As the system is only supported at either end of the canopy by steel universal columns, it not only makes the pool areas more aesthetically pleasing, it also keeps obstacles to a minimum — an important function over and around wet areas.

Using a pulley arrangement and manual winch, the Shaderunner® systems can be fully or partially retracted as needed, affording the facility the option of opening up the space to allow in natural light during the cooler months. An added benefit of the Shaderunner® system is that it can be withdrawn during bad weather.

As this part of Queensland is prone to violent summer storms and cyclones, traditional shade systems, such as shade sails, often need to be removable in order to prevent damage to the sail or eliminate it as a flying debris hazard. Being fully retractable, the Shaderunner® canopy can simply be retracted during storms to eliminate any potential issues, rather than removed, making it easier for staff to hustle in the event bad weather moves in quickly.

Ideally suited to a range of commercial venues, the Gladstone Aquatic Centre Shaderunner® canopies are manufactured from Outlook Mode, a commercial grade architectural fabric that guarantees durability and longevity. The 95 percent polyester mesh serves as a reliable safeguard against UV protection, while the light colour chosen for the project reflects sunlight to keep the space cooler and puts the focus on the vibrant colours of the Splash Zone.


Client Gladstone Regional Council
Location Gladstone, Queensland
Architect Argo Studio 1
Contractor Beau Corp Aquatics
Supply & Install Shadeform


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