News

12 Dec 2012

St Kilda Screen Collapse – near miss for punters

12 December 2012

While CX doesn’t have ALL the details, it appears the collapse of an outdoor cinema screen structure at St Kilda last week could have maimed or killed audience members, had the timing been different.

This is the picture of the structure as collapsed:

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Entertainment rigger Michael (Nitrox) Petrani was driving past on the day in question. “It was a poorly designed and erected structure with inadequate size truss and ballast. I don’t believe any rigging company was involved in the construction, and believe this is a lot of the reason for the failure occurred, I believe if a rigging company had been involved in the construction they would have seen the flaws in the design.”

Press reports quoted Sarah Steel, ‘a spokeswoman for Openair Cinemas’, as saying the structure did not fail. At all.Image

“Due to unusually high winds we are temporarily bringing down the screen in St Kilda as a precautionary measure,” Ms Steel told media.

“The screen has not fallen over, but the extreme weather conditions have caused some buckling – this is what the structure is designed to do in adverse conditions.”

She said the screen, located near Jacka Boulevard on the St Kilda foreshore, had been certified by an independent engineer when it was installed.

She said it also met all design certification to Australian standards.

Nitrox disputes the methods used. “One of the more disturbing photos I have show where the truss connection (tapered pin) used a paper clip to secure the pin instead of an r-clip
As a person certified in temporary structures 1 & 2 and advanced rigging, I find it hard to believe anybody with who knew what they were doing would sign off on the structure I saw”, he told CX.

Meanwhile Melbourne based CLS have offered a more appropriate design, which would of course cost a little more than the structure that failed.Image

In the meantime, the cinema operators have opted for an inflatable screen, which is probably the best option for a windy site, since it would cause less injury if it took off in the wind.

Structures and wind have been a problem since man started to hang sails on ships.

“I remember an incident at the SCG for a Rod Stewart concert in about 1978/9. Southerly buster came through and caused havoc. A large R/P screen was laced to two scaff towers with a piece of crane truss top and bottom for tensioning. A couple of guys had to climb the scaff towers and cut it down with knives because the scaff was falling apart and into the audience zone. The stage was being lifted off the ground by the wind blowing against the backdrop! Three phase cable pinched by moving scaff stage and sparking off. Very exciting. Very dangerous”, according to Bruce Brown.

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