RAC Arena

Here is a new attitude to the stadium. This major sports and entertainment venue (formerly Perth Arena) is not just a concrete box where mass audiences and spectators are herded in and out. It is a work of design whose story and history are drawn from the Western Australian identity.

RAC Arena is a destination that brings an extra dimension to the events it hosts—a place to eat, drink and enjoy. Its continuing popularity and economic success have depended on thoughtful design for players, performers, spectators and function guests alike.

“The auditorium is strangely intimate for such a big space. It becomes expectant, and with the roof open, like the hull of a great ship awaiting cargo from the sky…”

—Howard Raggatt

Design inspirations

One of our inspirations for RAC Arena’s form was the 1829 Round House in Fremantle, Western Australia’s oldest building. The 12-sided Round House reminded us of Renaissance visions for the Ideal City, a crystalline reality of mathematical proportions and divine harmony. We brought these ideas together using elements of the Eternity Puzzle, which has 209 irregular-shaped pieces that fit into a 12-sided board. (When the puzzle was released in 1999, marketers considered it practically impossible and offered £1 million to anyone who could solve it within four years. Two Cambridge mathematicians cracked it after 15 months.)


We arranged a selection of puzzle pieces to create the Arena’s jaunty, angular form and façade character. One of the pieces is shaped like a horse’s head; so is the Arena’s blue front entrance. For us, it also represents Perth’s Trojan horse—an object of desire, dragged into great triumph and allowed to bring its rampage of entertainment with it.

Other puzzle pieces on the façade represent Western Australian icons: a sailing boat, a swan, a cockatoo, geographic forms of Rottnest Island and Western Australia, and a drill rig and giant earth-moving truck to reference the mining industry.

The blue canopy outside the horse head entrance is carefully designed so that it has the same outline as the building when you view it from a certain point on the ground. Stand on the triangle tile in the ground, look up and you’ll see the canopy and building line up perfectly.


The interiors, particularly the entrance and great public concourses, best express our vision for the building: a genuinely versatile, multi-functional venue that is easy to walk around and through. There are generous foyer concourses, oversized stairway landings with places to meet and mingle, and ample bars and toilets.

Puzzle-piece arrangements, or puzzle fragments, appear in many of the spaces.



The blue of the Arena is International Klein blue, first mixed by the French artist Yves Klein. His 1931 painting Blue Monochrome is simply a rectangle of this colour. IKB was also the colour of chroma key screens before digital animation. Chroma keying is a technique used in video and photography where a background is added to a subject whose real background has been deleted. A good example is a television weather broadcast where the presenter stands in front of a blue or green chroma key screen and a series of maps appears behind them.

RAC Arena has five function rooms, all versatile social and corporate hospitality suites. They feature catering and audio-visual facilities. The American Express Invites Lounge overlooks the main arena, and the other function spaces offer external views of the city and beyond.


Features include:

  • mixed-mode natural ventilation in the public concourses
  • displacement air conditioning system in the arena itself
  • a photovoltaic array on the roof
  • WELLS-rated fixtures and fittings
  • locally sourced materials (including West Australian granite for the entry foyers)
  • water-sensitive landscape design.