Santa Sophia Catholic College

The multi-storey Santa Sophia Catholic College campus will provide the next generation of students with contemporary learnings and recreational spaces. The innovative design features a six-storey building comprising five interlinked blocks, all connected via extensive, open-corridor play areas with classroom spaces, a creative hub for art and applied sciences, a research hub for science and fitness, a large theatre/hall as part of a performance hub, a professional hub comprising administration and staff space and a community hub comprising a knowledge centre.

The intrinsic theme of this design is connectivity – between students, different areas of the school and the natural environment. The design team recognised the importance of including atria and open corridor play areas for the different year groups.

Holmes’ early involvement in the project allowed the design team to consult on fire safety requirements that could be potentially restrictive to the architectural vision if addressed at a later stage. The proposed architectural design resulted in significant non-compliances to the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions. However, Holmes developed fire engineering solutions that utilise the intrinsic architectural features as part of the fire strategy, supported by advanced numerical tools such as computational fluid dynamics and dynamic occupant evacuation.

Each level of the five blocks will be connected via concrete floor slabs resulting in the entire building being considered one large fire compartment. Ventilated circulation spaces have been introduced between the buildings to offset the effects of a fire in the oversized fire compartment. The school’s design also includes numerous stairways connecting the different levels which have all been utilised in our fire safety assessment, offering multiple alternative exits routes for students and staff to reach a place of safety on the ground.

The structural fire engineering analysis focused on the protection of the steel structure in the Performance Hall. Holmes undertook a series of assessments to rationalise the level of fire proofing that was necessary. Additionally, due to the various fire proofing methods implemented in the building, Holmes provided strategies to address the junctions where the different fire protection systems overlap.

Open in late 2021, Santa Sophia Catholic College will be central to the Box Hill communities continued and thriving growth.

The Pacifica

At 57 storeys high, The Pacifica reaches through Auckland’s city skyline to offer residents and tourists broad views of the harbour while surrounded by the comforts of a bustling city.

The fire safety design for The Pacifica employed an innovative response to the challenge of smoke ingress to the fire protected stairs. Each of the two stairs is internally subdivided by fire separations to limit the potential spread of smoke. This design strategy is more effective (more reliable and with higher efficacy) and less expensive to maintain than a conventional stairway pressurisation system. Each stair is provided with the ability to exit and re-enter the alternate stair to bypass any section of the stair that is compromised by smoke or blocked by firefighter activities.

The Holmes project team designed (fire modelling) and specified an innovative stairway smoke purging system which is intended to provide clear air within the stair for firefighters. Holmes provided an innovative double-curtain fire separation, to substitute for a fixed glass fire separation wall that could not be constructed due to supply issues for fire rated glazing systems.

The fire safety design considered the specific needs of the civilian occupants during a fire emergency and firefighters’ specific needs when working in a tall building (influenced strongly by the lessons learnt from the Grenfell Tower fire in London). building-specific stair signs to provide civilians and firefighters with information specific to their situation: which stairway they are in; the floor level identification (for accurate communication when assistance is needed); where the final exit is located and the number of floors to reach either the final exit or a place in the building for interim refuge or assistance). Additional WIP phones were provided to allow fire wardens to communicate with firefighters from a place of safety and for firefighters to communicate from inside the stairs to the Fire Control Room.

Fire engineering services included:

  • fire engineering design for an Alternative Solution for Code compliance
  • design and documentation of the Fire Engineering Strategy
  • coordination of fire requirements for building services interfaces
  • performance specification for the stairway smoke control systems
  • specification of the evacuation sequencing and coordination with the Evacuation Scheme consultant
  • review of and coordination with the fire protection systems consultant and contractor
  • review of passive fire stopping details at fire separation junctions, review of submissions from the specialist passive fire contractor
  • review of the fire safety systems interfaces & commissioning programme
  • construction monitoring for the duration of the construction programme
  • witnessing of fire systems interfaces operation and evacuation system sequences operation

The Ainsworth Building

This groundbreaking multi-level timber facility will provide the university with contemporary teaching spaces, lecture theatres and team based learning areas for future medicine and health science students. The unique design features a prefabricated Glulam and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) structure. The building, interconnected with an internal stairway across four storeys also has a custom fire separation strategy, protecting the top storey from a potential ground level fire.

Holmes worked with the client to create flexibility in the design for potential change in building function in the future. The Structural Fire Engineering team undertook a detailed analysis to provide versatility in the floor plate layout in the event of a catastrophic fire event, considering varying options in the space and how it may be used in the future. Numerous egress and fire services design issues were allowed for and considered in the design of the building, ensuring aesthetic appeal and functionality could be maintained whist providing the highest levels of fire safety. Multiple primary egress routes, avenues of attack for fire brigade, and increased provision of wet fire services were key elements to providing a high level of safety throughout the building.

Other design aspects include a striking timber colonnade entry, incorporating both steel and timber elements, unprotected timber within internal areas, bespoke structural connections, all of which were a key focus of the fire engineering strategy to enable the execution of this innovative design.

The Hotel Britomart

The Hotel Britomart is the first eco-friendly hotel to hit Auckland, providing the city’s thriving tourism industry with a boutique offering that seamlessly blends sustainable features into an indulgent yet comforting atmosphere. Opening its doors in mid 2020, The Hotel Britomart incorporates a new 11 storey building and the refurbished, adjoining Masonic and Buckland buildings. The hotel offers 104 rooms, mixed use commercial space and administration on the ground floor, and a gym in the basement.

As the first property company in New Zealand to join the Green Star Performance rating system, Britomart successfully achieved a 5 Green Star rating during its design and build as well as its Green Star Performance accreditation since operating. This was achieved through the choosing of sustainable materials, incorporating reused concrete and recycled water through and passive design.

This project allowed our team to provide our client with a unique level of service through our collaboration with all our Holmes engineering practices including Holmes Solutions. The team from Holmes provided valuable insight into the structural elements of the design while Holmes Solutions undertook full scale testing of the precast façade panels incorporating pieces of brick.

Rigorous cooperation with the other stakeholders was required to successfully navigate the complexities of upgrading a heritage structure to current fire standards while adhering to sustainability and design requirements. The Fire Engineering strategy for The Hotel Britomart utilised smoke modelling to assess the most effective solutions for the project. Given the hotel’s height and occupancy requirements, one of the main challenges was the single stair. Through smoke modelling and egress calculations Holmes Fire showed that the stair achieves the fire safety performance requirements. The single stair was an important part of the design as it maximised the floor area available for hotel rooms.

The refurbishment of the existing Masonic and Buckland buildings included additional structural support, fire rated separations, smoke sealing and sprinkler protection.

 

 

Greenstone Financial Services Office

Greenstone Financial Services have recently moved into their new office in Norwest Business Park, Sydney. Holmes has been developing a fire safety strategy limited to the fit out of the 8 storey building, with a different design team and certifier looking after the construction of the base building.

The office has been designed to increase interpersonal connections between employees and features a pathway connecting the lower floors to the upper floors with open stairways. The building features voids in Levels 3 to 7 for the non-required stairways and has three fire isolated stairways that provide egress from all office levels.

The fire engineering strategy for the building involved separating the office tenancy into three fire compartments that spanned multiple levels connected by the internal stairs. Automatic fire shutters and fast response sprinkler heads were incorporated into the design so that the risk of fire spread through the void was reduced. Limitations have also been placed on the placement of storage, furniture and combustible materials in the void areas.

Due to the base building having a separate fire engineering report, our team have had to work closely with all the project stakeholders throughout the design and building process to prevent any clashes between both reports and to mitigate any delays to the project schedule.

Monterey, Kangaroo Point

Situated at Kangaroo Point, Monterey will be a 12 storey mass timber hybrid, aimed at the luxury end of the residential sector. The building features a pool, gym and a rooftop recreation space offering panoramic views of Brisbane River and the city skyline.

Monterey aims to become the benchmark for sustainability in Brisbane utilising glulam mass timber construction for the majority of the building superstructure. The building core is constructed of reinforced concrete for both lateral stability and to facilitate parts of the fire safety strategy.

Our Structural Fire Engineers prepared a bespoke fire engineering design that incorporated a progressive passive protection strategy that allowed for a reduced level of protection throughout the residential apartments and exposed timber surfaces in corridors and balcony soffits. The fire safety strategy also incorporated the utilisation of steel columns in the penthouse apartment and open pergola style roof.

Our team have been providing construction review services and ongoing technical support to the wider team as the building takes shape in preparation for its grand opening at the end of 2020. Our engineers’ experience with approval authorities was key in facilitating the communication process between all project parties and approval authorities, such that compliance issues with this bespoke structural system were successfully navigated without project delay.

44 Martin Place

The historic MLC building is a prominent sandstone icon of Martin Place. The heritage listed commercial development, located in central Sydney CBD was originally built in the 1930s, and has previously undergone redevelopment in the 1980s.

The building has recently undergone redevelopment to incorporate a large feature atrium through the centre of the building and add two new storeys above, using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). The building required a bespoke fire engineering strategy that had to consider the heritage nature of the building and the specific requirements by the building owner to have an open atrium and highly interconnected working space.

Holmes previous experience with atrium design and our established relationship with local Fire Brigades allowed our team to provide the client and design team with specialist fire safety advice that shaped the atrium design to satisfy the safety requirements whilst also staying sympathetic to all other stakeholder objectives. The resulting design ticked all the boxes in terms of architecturally beautify, architecturally functional, flexible to accommodate tenant fitouts and robust enough to deliver occupant safety in a fire scenario. Specifically our design adopted horizontal fire curtains at the base of the atrium void thereby separating out the Ground Level portions and providing flexibility for the use of this Ground Level space to include a café, displays and decorations.

Structural Fire Engineering was also utilised to rationalise and optimise the level of protection to be applied to the mass timber structure while ensuring that structural stability and occupant life safety is maintained. Advanced finite element modelling is being used to establish a holistic and cost effective re-mediation strategy to the dilapidated existing steel concrete composite structure, which does not comply with the most recent fire standards.

Isaac Theatre Royal

The Isaac Theatre Royal is one of Christchurch’s most iconic heritage buildings, and the Grade-A heritage listed theatre was badly damaged in the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. The project included the rebuild of a large portion of the structure while retaining the historic unreinforced masonry façade, ornate plaster ceiling dome and the entrance feature marble staircase.

Two major constraints on the project were the fixed $40M budget and the opening date for the first show. The theatre needed to be open for the 2014-2015 summer show season to keep key staff on. This required the design and construction to occur in two-thirds of the time of a conventional project. Holmes were the structural and fire engineers for the rebuild, and it became the first major entertainment venue to reopen for business in the CBD following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Fire Engineering

Holmes was brought into the project during construction to review the existing Fire Engineering Strategy provided by another consultant. Through performance based design we were able to present a robust solution on schedule and on budget.

The new Fire Engineering Strategy was produced within three months of engagement. The fire engineering design process also included:

  • Collaboration with the University of Canterbury to develop a new egress modelling tool for Holmes Fire use, which could undertake the buildings comprehensive egress assessment of merging crowd spaces;
  • Development of a fire strategy which considered an alternative compliance with the New Zealand Building Code in order to maintain the original architectural vision of a building designed over 100 years ago;
  • A hands-on approach to proactively integrate the Fire Strategy with the operational needs of the Theatre.
  • Consideration to Safety in Design, which included the physical practicality of installation and maintenance of the proposed fire strategy; and
  • Implementation of a complex fire and security interface which included multiple tests and training of theatre staff.

The design team had a vision of reviving the building to its original design including several key heritage features such as the auditorium dome and plaster detailing, marble stairs, and Edwardian façade. The dome and plaster detailing, in particular, relied heavily on our assessment.

Using smoke modelling tools, we were able to eliminate the need for the existing motorised smoke curtains covering the full width of the theatre adjacent to the dome. This also allowed the client to remove all of the access gantries and maintenance of the system.

Throughout the project, we were able to work collaboratively with the client to provide a unique, performance-based solution tailored specifically to the needs of the heritage building.

Structural Engineering

The tight construction period was achieved through the use of information sharing with the contractor and other consultants in the form of 3D Revit models, a close working relationship with the contractor, and looking outside the box in terms of materials (such as shotcrete) and construction sequencing.

The Theatre’s fixed budget consisted of insurance money and various grants and fundraising commitments. A key part of managing the budget was cost certainty during the design phases. The use of 3D drawings allowed the quantity surveyors to more easily identify pinch points and difficult areas, especially with regard to conflicts with heritage fabric. This helped to identify, manage and reduce these high risk cost areas throughout the project.

Nearly all the unique heritage features of this building were saved and carefully restored by skilled craftsmen—leaving the theatre in a better condition than it was pre-earthquake.

Jubilee Place

As part of the transformation of the Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, this composite steel building will project outwardly with a externally braced load-bearing diagrid structure resembling a large steel web. The development has a strong focus on the people and their experience in the building. This project has prioritised environmental conscious design by setting the bar high in terms of sustainability targets, achieving a six-star Green Star, five-star NABERS and Gold WELL Building Standard.

The structural fire engineering of the building is a key aspect to the design, as the unique and complex nature of the building dictates a first principles approach to be followed when designing for fire safety. The structural fire engineering team developed a holistic fire safety design that removed unnecessary and redundant passive protection, quantified actual building behaviour under fire and building loads, and provided a defensible and robust pathway for building approval.

Additional fire engineering solutions where also developed throughout the building to enhance occupant safety and usability, to mitigate the risk of fire spread between properties, and to specifically design a bespoke passive fire protection strategy for the building.

Jubilee Place as a result, will not only be an architectural statement but also become a precedent for good fire safety design utilising advanced Structural Fire Safety principles to encourage more unique and innovative designs.

Ariel + Aurora Apartments

Ariel and Aurora Apartments are a set of new, high rise residential towers in Granville. The new development strives to provide convenience and comfort for its community with retail and commercial tenancies on the lower floors of each building and pockets of green spaces 

At 19 storeys, Aurora Apartments is not only the tallest building in The Altitude Collection, but also in Granville. The building features a large, full length glass atrium to maximise natural light and ventilation throughout. Residents also have access to a communal rooftop Sky Garden offering 360° views of Sydney’s skyline. Holmes developed a cost saving bespoke smoke control strategy for the atrium and demonstrated through CFD modelling that the strategy will provide an adequate level of fire safety to occupants in the building. 

Ariel Apartments offers its residents similar views as its neighbour Aurora and features a rooftop Sky Garden as well. The building stands at 18 storeys and does not have an atrium, instead the apartments have been designed to increase natural ventilation and lighting. 

Holmes was engaged from the design stage of this project to provide fire engineering services for both buildings. A number of Performance Solutions were required to support the design intent for both buildings relating to glazed elements in fire walls, travel distances to exit on residential and carpark levels, the use of jet fans in the mechanical ventilation at the carpark areas and the staged evacuation strategy of the towers.  

Holmes worked closely with the architects and project team to ensure that the solutions offered would not inhibit the design intent to create an inviting and convenient area for the community and maximise natural ventilation and lighting for residents.  

Little National Hotel

Currently under construction, Little National Hotel promises to offer local and international travellers a luxurious escape in the heart of Sydney CBD. Utilizing the existing Wynyard Walk structure above Wynyard Station, the hotel boasts 230 contemporary rooms enveloped by a striking curved façade and vertical garden. Guests have access to a modern gym, library and exclusive rooftop lounge and bar with city views.

The hotel structure comprises a steel-framed structure with a composite steel-concrete floor system. Holmes’ team of structural fire engineers, in collaboration with the structural engineers’ team from TTW, developed a unique optimised fire protection strategy for the steel structure. Holmes was able to demonstrate via an advanced thermal and structural fire analysis, utilising non-linear finite element software, that the structural frame with an optimised fire protection strategy can maintain structural stability throughout the entirety of a credible fire scenario. This resulted in major cost savings for the client, as the solution allowed for reduced passive protection of steel members, reducing material and labour costs.

In addition to the structural fire assessment, a number of Performance Solutions were required to support the design intent of the building. These included, for example, reduced fire resistance levels to particular areas, external separation of fire compartments, service penetrations through fire rated elements, travel distances to exits, egress width, stair discharge, protection of fire hydrant booster etc. Holmes also analysed any potential impact the fire strategy of the new hotel may have on the existing Wynyard Walk building and helped enable the two buildings having some combined fire services.

One particular challenge faced in this project was the proposed design option of having an external stair instead of an enclosed fire-isolated stair serving levels above 25m in height. This is not permitted in the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy compliant provisions due to the risk that people would suffer vertigo and the risk that weather conditions, particularly wind, may become more severe above this height. Holmes helped enable this design by performing a detailed analysis of the wind effects on the external stair to show that the wind velocity wouldn’t impact occupant evacuation conditions.

New Performing Arts Venue | QPAC

Nestled in the heart of Brisbane with a design inspired by Brisbane River and Brisbane’s heritage fabric, the New Performing Arts Venue (NPAV) is set to offer a new landmark on the banks of the Brisbane River. Featuring a sinuous, folding glass facade with an impressive timber cladding lining the internal walls, this performing arts centre is pushing the envelope for cultural building designs in Brisbane. NPAV will provide the current Queensland Performing Arts Centre with an additional 1500 seats and studio spaces to support the growing needs of the Brisbane community and tourism industry.

To deliver the Fire Engineering strategy, Holmes is currently undertaking computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling and egress modelling that are proving critical to execution of the spatial planning and overall architecture of the building. The project is still under the final design phase so additional changes could still be presented.

Holmes is also providing specialist structural fire engineering services to rationalise and optimise the level of protection to the steel elements within the building. This fire protection strategy is supported through a performance based structural fire engineering solution, to demonstrate that the proposed steel design can satisfy the Performance Requirements of the Building Code of Australia. The development of a robust fire safety strategy for the building will be paramount in the successful delivery of a flexible design ensuring the achievement of the architectural vision for the building whilst still prioritising fire safety.

ASB North Wharf

ASB North Wharf, headquarters of ASB bank and the anchor project in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, was a first-rate example of flexible working spaces and sustainable design when it was completed in 2013. The building spans two sites, with a multi-level glazed walkway over a central public lane that provides access through to the adjacent Waterfront Theatre site. 

The ‘Activity Based Working’ design presented a number of challenges that required performance based solutions. 15 individually themed, open areas were designed for flexible working also required a flexible evacuation design flexible to allow for the building’s occupants to move between floors. By utilising a performance based approachHolmes reduced the number of stairs required by a prescriptive solution, supporting the project’s objective to create an open and flexible layout. The evacuation plan also was designed to be flexible and utilise the open interconnecting stairs for egress in some fire scenarios.  

Sustainability was also a significant factor that influenced the design and use of the building. The addition of a ventilating funnel and controlled internal shading have assisted in the reduction of the building’s energy use by 50% and resulted in the completed building achieving NZGBC 5 Star Green Star Rating for Office Design. While the ventilation funnel provided beneficial natural lighting throughout the building, Holmes designed a smoke management system that not only aligned with the ventilation system but also avoided the need for a dedicated smoke control plant. A ‘hot smoke test’ was conducted by Holmes following the completion of the project demonstrating the strategy for smoke movement in action. 

Take a virtual tour through all 7 storeys and explore ASB North Wharf.

Flinders Centre

Flinders Centre is a high-rise A-grade commercial tower extension to the existing Bankstown Sports Club. The tower was officially completed at the end of 2018, following a 3.5 year involvement by Holmes Fire from the early concept design, through design development and construction till occupation.

Flinders Centre is eleven storeys, containing a gym, childcare, and commercial spaces. A future rooftop bar was also considered in the design, expected to be pursued in the near future. The tower is served by four high speed lifts contained in a feature glass shaft enclosure on the eastern side of the building, complementing the floor to ceiling glass walls on all sides of the building. The glass lift shaft was demonstrated as providing an equivalent level of protection as a conventional lift shaft to evacuating occupant and fire fighters, through a performance based fire engineering solution prepared by Holmes, by providing a suite of subtle fire safety features.

Holmes also took into account existing fire engineering solutions to the remainder of the development, including complex interactions between the existing and new building parts, to allow the building to function as one whilst maximising the safety of occupants during evacuation.  The fire engineered solutions provided by Holmes included:

  • Rationalisations to the stair pressurisation system
  • Extended travel distances
  • Fire stair discharge
  • Omission of smoke exhaust from the office tower
  • Sliding doors used for egress purposes
  • Provision of a combustible roof pergola
  • Rationalised protection of supply air control equipment

Throughout this project, Holmes worked closely with the client, architect, services engineers, fire brigade, Council, BCA consultant, and the builder to develop cost effective, practical and aesthetically achievable solutions which ultimately meet the design objectives whilst achieving suitable levels of fire safety for the building’s occupants and fire brigade personnel.

Holmes has been involved with numerous other extensions and fitouts of other parts of Bankstown Sports Club, including the construction of the Travelodge Hotel, restaurant fitouts, feature light installations, carpark modifications, café remodelling, plant room modifications, and ad hoc advice.

Grosvenor Place

The iconic Grosvenor Place complex is in Sydney’s CBD, bounded by George, Grosvenor, Harrington and Essex Streets. It features a two-storey ground floor entrance lobby and 44 levels of office accommodation providing 80,000 m2  of leasable floor area. The project involved a two stage refurbishment, including remodelling the existing food court and enclosing the lobby.

Holmes was engaged to provide fire engineered solutions where the building was unable to comply with the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions. These non- compliances were due to the constraints of the existing building, that in some cases were not identified until site works began.

The building design incorporated multiple extended travel distances, often through the high space lobby. Alternative Solutions were developed to demonstrate that the large smoke reservoirs provided a greater level of safety for egressing occupants than in a Deemed-to-Satisfy compliant building, despite the extended travel distances. As such, Holmes was able to use the existing attributes of the building without requiring additional fire safety measures.

Reduced dimensions within the paths of travel from back of house and maintenance areas were justified by the use of signage and the implementation of management procedures that incorporated requirements for confined space access. Solutions were also provided for the non-compliant location of fire hose reels and the deletion of sprinklers from beneath external awnings and areas where it was impractical to provide coverage due to the proposed design and use.

A central, architectural element of the building is the circular stairway connecting the lower and upper lobby areas. Our design justified non-compliance with this stairway, allowing the client to maintain the architectural detail of this feature.

Throughout the project Holmes worked closely with Grosvenor Place management to provide solutions that would be conducive to the day-to-day functionality of the building. The resulting assessment presented acceptable solutions for all stakeholders, reducing construction costs and time for the builder, maintaining original architectural features and providing practical and manageable solutions for the end user.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

The Auckland Art Gallery is an iconic and much-loved part of the city’s cultural heritage. When the gallery needed to seismically strengthen and refurbish the buildings, including fire safety design—which were built in 1888 and 1916 respectively—they trusted the challenging work to Holmes’ expert engineers. The final part of the work was to design new space to host an ever-growing number of exhibits. This project required the technical expertise to cope with a challenging seismic ‘retrofit’, combined with the ability to match the character and style of the new space with the existing structure. The existing building – one of the oldest in Auckland – was the first municipal art gallery built in New Zealand and contains the most valuable public art collection in the country.

Retaining the building’s heritage features, sensitive refurbishment and upgrading fire safety was of utmost importance. Key features of the architectural design include the impressive four storey north atrium and the three storey south atrium. The new and refurbished parts of the building required large, interconnected open plan spaces with a high degree of openness and visual connection to adjacent galleries and atria.

Fire Safety Design

The fire safety design involved a challenging mix of conflicting aspirations. As the building has to deliver specific performance requirements, the fire safety engineered solution was equally performance-focused: innovative to suit this client and this architectural design. The regulators expressed concern about the number of design issues that were required to vary from ‘standard fire approaches’ and insisted on an extreme level of engineering justification. Holmes responded with engineering design solutions that addressed the significant challenges of this unique architectural masterpiece.

The fire engineering brief evolved over five years, with contributions from art curators, gallery event managers, international exhibition advisors, architects, security consultants, structural and mechanical services engineers, Fire Service and Auckland Council regulatory reviewers. The final fire safety strategy successfully achieved the outcomes required by the fire engineering brief.

Holmes used computational fluid dynamics analysis to model smoke movement and also evaluated the movement of people in a fire emergency, using a variety of engineering building use scenarios for safety and robustness. The primary public circulation routes are also used as principal fire egress routes (allowing fewer dedicated egress stairs than prescriptive regulatory requirements). Holmes coordinated a detailed review of fire protection requirements in all areas storing and displaying art. Holmes designed the systems controlling fire and smoke spread to protect the building, the art collections and the building occupants. ‘Standard’ solutions for exit signage and security on exit doors were modified to suit the specific requirements for this building.

Seismic Strengthening

The seismic strengthening work started rigorous assessment of the building’s structural needs, drawing on market-leading modelling technology to identify potential weaknesses. The strengthening solution focused on minimising the impact on existing heritage features, creating a robust, resilient structure for the future. The new space included three galleries and two new roof level sculpture terraces, and the addition of a three storey glass atrium structure with a tension rod façade system and tree-like canopies that define and cover the entry forecourt, atrium and gallery areas.

Canterbury Leagues Club

The Canterbury Leagues Club in Belmore has long been one of Sydney’s premier hospitality destinations. Holmes has been involved in many of the upgrades and extensions to the building that have occurred over the years as the club expanded in size and patronage. The Club incorporates bars, entertainment lounges, restaurants, gaming, health club, function spaces and carparking.

Since the building has been constructed in a piecemeal manner, with many extensions at different times, Holmes provided a holistic fire engineering assessment of the building in 2010 to check that the design and operation of the building as a whole would be adequate in the event of a fire. This involved fire and smoke modelling to assess the impacts of potential fires and computer modelling of a complete building evacuation to determine the egress characteristics of the building.

Canterbury Leagues Club recently underwent a master plan redevelopment to add a five-storey basement carpark, café and gaming areas. Holmes provided Fire Engineering services as part of a large consultant team to develop a practical fire safety design that integrates with the existing fire safety design and enables a number of cost savings through the application of Alternative Solutions.

Key benefits of Holmes involvement are the provision of an Alternative Solution to permit the architectural glass lift and water feature to connect all levels of the five-storey basement and permit the fire-isolated stairway to discharge into the lift lobby. These aspects of the design enabled the architect and client to achieve the desired aesthetic in the area that would form the primary entry point for patrons.

As the Club was to remain operational during construction works, Holmes provided an Interim Fire Safety Strategy to justify temporary fire safety non-compliances such as blocking of egress routes and reduced exit widths. Through the application of management procedures that Holmes developed, the construction was able to proceed uninterrupted, whilst still affording a suitable level of fire safety for occupants within the operations areas of the building.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Tāmaki Paenga Hira/Auckland War Memorial Museum is one of New Zealand’s iconic heritage buildings. It is a treasured part of Auckland’s cultural heritage, ‘telling the story of New Zealand’ to a huge number of local, national and international visitors. It’s a site of enormous cultural significance, occupying a commanding position on Auckland’s skyline.

When the structure of the museum needed to be seismically strengthened and modernised, Holmes technical design experts were the logical choice. Our design of this multi-award winning project integrated dramatic architectural and engineering features into a world class facility, bringing a national heritage building into the 21st century.

Structural Strengthening and Fire Design

The museum redevelopment was delivered in two major stages over 12 years. The first stage comprised a well-crafted refurbishment of the existing Historic Places Category I building and exhibition design for all of the gallery spaces. Significant earthquake strengthening and securing works were also undertaken, carefully integrated with existing heritage spaces to preserve the elements that make the building so distinctive and compelling.

The second stage, the Grand Atrium Project, delivered an ambitious, four storey, seven hundred tonne suspended building within the existing courtyard.  An adjacent two-level underground visitor car park was also developed, and overall floor space was increased by 60%. Two storage and curatorial basements were added beneath the stunning ground floor atrium. By utilising a wide variety of performance-based fire engineering design methods, specifically tailored to the constraints imposed by the building’s configuration and uses, Holmes optimised the performance of the egress routes within the addition, minimised the amount of applied fire proofing needed for the structural steelwork and verified the extensive use of architectural timber lining.

Finally, teaching and performance spaces situated within the suspended ‘bowl’ are crowned by the spectacular events centre, under the feature wave dome roof.

Holmes’ engineering services enabled the architect’s original vision for the project to be realised with a minimum of compromise and in a manner that significantly exceeded the client’s expectations.

St Vincent’s College

St Vincent’s College, Potts Point has recently finished a refurbishment to its Block B buildings, improving the circulation between classrooms and adding an all-weather outdoor space. The new addition, designed by ThomsonAdsett Architects, features open walkways overlooking a covered breezeway, which has a modern aesthetic featuring glass and concrete, contrasting to the heritage façade it is connected to. The overall result is an impressive construction, improving the functionality of these once disconnected buildings, whilst being sympathetic to its heritage features.

The design incorporates louvered glass walls creating a breezeway, transforming a once dark and neglected area of the building into a bright airy, all weather space for students to enjoy during their class breaks. Holmes played a key role in the realisation of this architectural vision, using a performance based approach to justify omission of sprinklers to much of the breezeway, the use of natural ventilation instead of mechanical smoke exhaust and the use of a glass feature stair for egress.

The experienced Fire Engineers at Holmes used CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) modelling to assess the impact of potential fire scenarios and married that with results from and computer based egress modelling to demonstrate that students, staff and visitors would be afforded sufficient time to evacuate safety.

RRSIC – Ernest Rutherford Stage 1

RRSIC Stage 1 project was the larger and more technically challenging of the two stages of the Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre. With a total project budget of $216 million for Stages 1 and 2, the new centre will provide accommodation for the College of Science, along with an unprecedented resource for the Canterbury region.

Minimisation of fire separation to reduce fire rating to services and penetrations was critical to the client and architectural vision for an open and connected teaching environment. This also contributed to ease of construction, reduced construction cost and minimising future maintenance requirements for the building.

During the period between design approval and completion of the building the fire design withstood several changes to the building design with minimal implications. This demonstrated the risk consideration/robustness approach to the final functionality and buildability applied to the final fire design, while still minimising ‘over design’. The fire design gave the other consultants and client and confidence to design and not mandate or constrict their solutions.

The design stages were delivered on time and on budget, with active involvement through the extended construction period required by Fletchers.

Holmes also provided structural fire analysis using finite element methods to demonstrate the capacity of specific structural members.

Australis Nathan Building

These historic buildings, built in 1903 and 1904 were originally warehouse and storefronts for importers and merchants, fast forward over 110 years and these have been transformed to bring these heritage buildings back to life. Australis House and the Nathan Building was an ambitious refurbishment combining the two buildings to function as a single structure and repurposed them to include high end retail, hospitality and office spaces. These buildings had strong character with a combination of cast iron columns, heavy timber columns and beams, timber floors with herringbone bracing and impressive brickwork.  

Our brief on this project was to avoid providing ceilings beneath these floors and encasing these columns in order to celebrate these features. Our performance-based design solution involved a combination of sprinkler installation, assessment of inherent timber strength and application of clear intumescent coatings to achieve sufficient fire separations within the building and achieve Building Code compliance.

B:Hive Smales Farm

B:Hive is taking commercial space to a new level offering shared office space that is fresh, vibrant and architecturally impressive! This new build construction has seven levels in total. One basement level (below ground) for car parking, one on-grade ground floor level which provides hospitality tenancy spaces, meeting room and breakout spaces, entry foyer and reception for the offices above. Above this are four levels of serviced office space leased on highly flexible short term and long term basis. The top-most level is dedicated for plant and building services.  

The 11,000 square metre building incorporates a diverse mix of office uses, with a mix of dedicated and shared spaces. It has the ability to house businesses from 10 to 310 employees per floor: from small startups to established corporates. 

Two features key to the design flexibility and interactive working environment are the open atrium and stair interconnecting all office levels and the ability for tenants to use flexi-space with up to 50% more occupants than a standard office building design. Using a novel smoke control strategy developed collaboratively with the day-to-day ventilation design, Holmes justified a fire safety solution which avoided the need for fire curtains or smoke separations around the atrium.

Pier B Extension, Auckland International Airport

Auckland Airport has a number of expansion phases planned and underway on its International Terminal. The expansion of Pier B added two new gates (17 & 18), increasing the number of international aircraft using the airport. The 190-metre extension enables Pier B with the flexibility to accommodate a total of four A380 or eight smaller A320 aircraft at any time. In addition, the Pier B bus lounge was expanded from two boarding gates to four, to allow greater ability to board flights using aircraft located away from the terminal.

The project challenge for Holmes was the delivery of the construction phase in five stages, whilst maintaining the continuous operation of the airport for commuters and staff alike. Construction involved temporarily relocating the principal three main egress stairs for Pier B and then reinstating these into the permanent design. All of this needed to be undertaken without adding significant cost through temporary works.

Working with interim strategies is a frequent request of our clients, where we need to strategise closely with our project stakeholders, ensuring smooth transition of construction through to operation whilst meeting adequate safety requirements through the entire process. In doing this we take to time to understand the constraints and provide options to ensure the most workable solutions are adopted.

Using performance-based design solutions for the project provided a more efficient egress design including reduced construction costs for the client where we enabled the elimination of stairs that were part of previous fire strategies.

Feature New Zealand landscape artwork and sculpture is also incorporated to the design, welcoming guests to this area of the international terminal which has also been fitted out with a new retail store and food and beverage outlet. Feature ceilings provided challenges to our fire protection design to ensure that sprinklers were installed to operate effectively, and without compromising the aesthetics.

Blyth Performing Arts Centre

The new Blyth Performing Arts Centre at Iona College, Hawkes Bay sits proudly near the entry to the school. The building houses a 400 seat auditorium, entry foyer and associated back of house and support facilities essential for a performing arts centre environment. The building adopts the use of timber throughout, adding warmth to both the performance space and the building’s exterior. The asymmetric and gracefully curved roof of the building further adds an embracing character to the acoustically refined space.

Holmes undertook a Fire Engineering Briefing (FEB) process for the Performing Arts Centre building, to establish the key parameters for the fire design from relevant project stakeholders prior to the building consent stage. Identified during the briefing process, the fire engineering design also considered the school’s intentions for a future additional stage of works to extend the centre’s facilities.

We provided Performance-Based Engineering design services for the building, which included smoke and egress modelling to determine fire safety compliance within the auditorium and foyer spaces.  This enabled the design to optimise the number and width of egress routes provided within the building, in turn enabling higher utilisation of floor area for public and support activities.  The location and extent of passive fire separations was carefully considered throughout the building to minimise the impact that these would have on theatre functionality and maintenance. Liaison with the local fire brigade also was critical to achieving appropriate fire fighting facilities, whilst minimising the impact of the relevant equipment on the welcoming aesthetic of the building.

Middlemore Hospital MHU

Holmes is provided fire engineering services for a new mental health facility at Middlemore Hospital. The building is comprised of sleeping wards as well as activity spaces, office and administration areas. As part of the design process, extensive communication was undertaken with the hospital to meet its needs, including accommodating for phased construction that allows for the facility’s continued operational use. Our design achieves the desired open architectural layout, deviating from more restrained institutional aesthetics.

Discrete exit signage has been incorporated to reduce stimulation to the residents in the building on a day-to-day basis, while functioning effectively in the event of a fire. Additionally, reduced fire resistance ratings to sleeping rooms have been incorporated; this assisted other aspects of the building design, including security and anti-ligature requirements while limiting the number of occupants exposed to a potential fire and meeting the requirements of the NZ Building Code.

Waterfall by Crown

Waterfall by Crown is set up as four striking buildings, offering 331 apartments. Located in Sydney’s Green Square each building is positioned on a densely planted central concourse of tropical foliage. The vision for the project is to provide ‘the perfect interplay of natural and manmade elements’.

Designed by SJB Architects for Crown Group, Waterfall is a luxury apartment development soon to redefine the residential market of the area and streetscape for the surrounding community to also appreciate. Three of the four towers are 8 stories high and are connected by long open-air walkways. One of these buildings creates a feature in itself with a waterfall on the façade, spanning its full height, giving rise to its name. The fourth tower, a 20-storey signature building featuring a roof top open-air cinema, will rise elegantly above the lavish greenery below.

Holmes first became involved in the project at concept stage in 2014 and through the process has worked with the wider design team as the project design has evolved.

One of the main challenges we faced through this project was the connection of these buildings and vertical voids interconnecting the floors within these buildings. We had to establish how to address the fire and smoke spread from the residential units into the voids and subsequent spread through the entire development. We rationalised this issue by reducing the overall fire and smoke compartments and improving egress as a result.

Additionally to assist with the staging of the development we created an interim fire safety strategy to enable staged occupation for the development so residents could move in prior to the entire development being completed.

Skyhaus, 420 Macquarie Steet

Located in Liverpool, one of the key satellite suburbs of Sydney, 420 Macquarie Street is currently the tallest residential development in the area. The residential complex comprises two 32 storeys towers plus a sister tower at six storeys. The buildings include retail spaces on the lower levels and swimming pool located on a shared roof space. The complex will usher in a new generation of high-end living into Liverpool, and inject more life into the already vibrant community.

A very high degree of fire engineering and structural fire engineering principles were applied to the building. One of the unique input Holmes  brought to the project was the reduced flat slabs that were demonstrated to achieve the required fire resistance levels throughout the building. This performance solution resulted in considerate savings to the project including approximately 1600m3 of concrete and 4000 tonnes of concrete. This not only improved the constructability of the project, but significant benefits were realised such as improved cost-efficiency and simpler construction techniques, while also improving the occupational performance of the complex over the lifetime of the structure.

Despite the significant benefits this provided in reduction to construction resourcing costs and timeframes, notable flow-on benefits of the thinned slabs was the design flexibility for the project. Standardised façade systems were catered for without increasing the overall inter-storey height of the building, and slab set-downs in wet areas were also not required, resulting in further cost savings to the project. Subsequently, the considerable benefits to this project has led to this structural fire engineering analysis to be conducted on a multitude of reinforced concrete projects, with dozens completed to date.

Eastlakes Live by Crown

Developed in collaboration with award-winning architects, fjmt, Eastlakes Live has been inspired by native Australian plants and golden hues of nature. The Eastlakes shopping centre redevelopment aims to provide a revitalised destination that is integrated with modern apartment living, linking to the adjacent Eastlakes reserve.

The project has been split into two sites and stages, one on either side of Evans Avenue. The north site (being built first) is a single storey shopping mall, upon which there will be three blocks of residential units on the Podium landscaped space. The south site, currently at concept/early development will be a larger two-three storey shopping centre designed with an X formation. The ground floor will feature an extensive shopping complex, creating a unique shopping experience for not only the residents but also opening the development to the community at large. On top of the shopping centre, a large landscaped podium will house four feature residential tower blocks. The architectural form of these building will be impressive with the largest residential tower in an arc formation.

Based on the preliminary architectural drawings, Holmes was able to identify areas where the design either required or could be enhanced by Alternative Solutions including solutions to permit reduced fire ratings.

The retail areas in the southern site require a smoke exhaust system, however rather than taking the broad approach specified in the building code, we have undertaken Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling of the retail malls to predict the movement of smoke from a number of hypothetical fires. This enables a more efficiently designed smoke exhaust system, and additionally will intend for the smoke zones to be larger than those permitted in the building code. Holmes in addition to the retail space added significant value and design flexibility to the project by assessing the holistic risk of the residential portions of the building based on its use and specific design intent.

Assessing a project and how the design can be advanced using performance-based design is what our team strives to develop, resulting in a design solution that is advantageous to all stakeholders involved, with advanced safety for the end users as the ultimate focus.

 

Aurora Centre (56 The Terrace)

The Aurora Centre project in central Wellington involved the redevelopment and structural strengthening of Unisys House, the demolition and rebuild of the adjacent Aurora Chambers and a new five storey addition over the existing Aurora Terrace carpark. This existing 20 level building constructed in 1968 was gutted back to its concrete structure and redeveloped along with the construction of a new seismically isolated 9 level building next door. The end result was over 25,000 m² (270,000 sqft) of commercial office, retail and carparking.

The project has provided a structurally robust, functional and compelling new home for the Ministry of Social Development. The redevelopment of the buildings redefines their profile and purpose, including seamless connections between the structurally separate components, creating a cohesive and integrated complex.

Fire Engineering

22,000 m² (240,000 sqft) on levels 1-19 were occupied by a single Government tenant there was a need to incorporate new internal circulation stairs that linked levels 3-18. The stairs were able to be open across a total of 11 of those levels without the use of mechanical smoke control systems.

The constraints for the existing structure meant a focus of the fire engineering design was to be able to utilise the existing stairs that did not comply in geometry to current Code. Holmes had previously carried out a fully filmed and documented egress study for the building (as part of an employee’s PhD study) which was able to be used to understand how the occupants (over 2000 of them) used the existing stairs under evacuation conditions. This deep knowledge of the building was crucial in developing a solution that satisfied building officials and the Government tenant.

The age of the building meant that at the outset the building sat outside the new-Code standard and on that basis the redevelopment was able to deliver a modern and new-Code-compliant building with substantial fire safety upgrades—a significant and effectively ‘new’ for the building owner.

Structural Engineering: An NZ first—Fluid Viscous Dampers

The development has showcased technical expertise and innovation in engineering design elements. Most notably, the Aurora Centre demonstrates the first use of Fluid Viscous Dampers as part of the seismic strengthening of an existing building in New Zealand. These were used as the primary strengthening mechanism for the 18 storey tower building, and act as shock absorbers to dramatically decrease earthquake-induced motion.

Retrofitting the dampers into the existing tower structure brought it to 90% of the New Building Standard (an A+ seismic grade). In addition to the Fluid Viscous Dampers, our team developed a new concrete encased steel (CES) column assessment methodology to better understand and assess the seismic performance of the existing structure and its interaction with the proposed damper strengthening proposal.

This technically challenging project has resulted in significantly improved buildings, not only in terms of appearance and functionality but also in regard to seismic resilience.

40 King Street

40 King Street is an existing 100-year old eight storey office building in central Sydney. Due to a proposed major refurbishment, the building had to comply with the requirements of the current Building Code of Australia. The existing concrete slabs within the building could not comply with the current concrete code requirements due to insufficient concrete cover to the reinforcing bars. To upgrade the existing slabs to comply with the current code requirements would involve the addition of passive fire protection to the slab soffit; this would not only have been costly but time consuming and would damage the existing heritage fabric of the building.

Holmes carried out advanced analyses to determine the inherent fire resistance of the existing slab. The analysis demonstrated that the existing slab had enough inherent fire resistance to withstand a realistic fully developed fire, thereby negating the requirement to apply additional passive fire protection or to thicken the slab to meet the prescriptive requirements of the Code and Standards. This provided significant cost savings to the project and minimised disruption to the fabric of the existing building.

Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct

As the first ‘anchor project’ delivered in the rebuild of the Christchurch CBD after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct will always be remembered as a project of national significance. It is the first multi-agency government co-location project in New Zealand’s history. The forward-thinking design brings together all of the region’s critical services, including the Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Police, Department of Corrections, New Zealand Fire Service, St John New Zealand, and the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, to name a few—and accommodates an estimated 2,000 workers daily.

Holmes provided the fire and structural engineering for this innovative new precinct.

Fire Engineering

Holmes carried out not only the general fire engineering services for the team but also advanced structural fire analyses for the project, specifically the Justice Building. The fire engineering team who delivered the project remained together for the entire five year design and construction period. This continuity of service typifies Holmes’ approach to major projects and allowed the Client (Ministry of Justice) to achieve a fantastic result with continuity of the design and consultancy team.

From a structural perspective, the building has stringent requirements of structural robustness for seismic and fire resistance, due to the Emergency Operations Centre located in the Emergency Services Building – this is the centre for emergency response and coordination in the event of a natural disaster. The design of an Emergency Communications Centre (effectively a nationwide 111/000/911 call centre) was also required to have continuous occupation and operation in the event of a fire within any other part of the building.

A series of advanced analyses using non-linear finite element analysis was carried out by Holmes to test the robustness and stability of the structure in fire conditions. The analysis consisted of 3D modelling of the structural frame under exposure of a realistic fire, looking at its effect on each structural component. Unique and specialist 3D modelling inputs allowed the structural design to be safely optimised, whilst avoiding over-design. The resulting analysis demonstrated that the concrete filled steel hollow section columns and the secondary steel beams did not require additional passive fire protection. This provided significant cost savings for the project through the reduction of passive fire protection to the beams and columns.

This structure needed to not only resist fire but also be immediately operational post-emergency events. As a specialist design and project for Holmes, the technical detail of the fire safety of its smoke control system throughout the five level atrium, through to its specialist structural fire analysis is an exemplary example of how consultancy can be co-ordinated and managed to offer the most advanced fire safety response to serve an advanced function in not only its building design, but its users.

Structural Engineering

The precinct consists of four, four storey towers supported on a common base isolated podium structure. The base isolated podium we designed aims to mitigate structural and non-structural damage following a major earthquake and ensure continued functionality of the facility. This was an extremely challenging design brief that we were delighted to take on—an important and positive project in Christchurch’s rebuild.

Commercial Bay | Te Toki i te Rangi

Commercial Bay is the largest mixed-use development ever undertaken in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) CBD. The project combines two existing office towers with a new three level high-end retail complex and a new 39 level commercial tower—all above three levels of basement car parking and two train tunnels, with associated major complexities and structural transfers. Holmes was the Lead Structural Engineer on this important project, as well as providing fire and infrastructure engineering.

Structural Engineering 

The architecture of the flagship 39 level Commercial Bay tower in downtown Tāmaki Makaurau celebrates and showcases the structural form of the building. Working closely with the architect and the wider project team, Holmes designed visually striking columns and diagonal braces, which are clad to express and accentuate the structure. The structural system of the tower consists of a diagrid structure, featuring composite concrete filled hollow section steel tube columns and braces and long span beams.

In a large complex project with many stakeholders and challenges, the Commercial Bay tower is an example of a well-coordinated structure, underpinned by great BIM execution and a willingness for project partners to work through challenges collaboratively. This result was achieved through excellent continuous ongoing collaboration and communication between project stakeholders—particularly the architect and the structural engineers. Weekly exchanges of Revit files via a shared FTP site ensured well-coordinated Revit models and delivered a clear accurate picture of progress.

The penetrations through the floor slab were modelled in the structural slab, and penetrations for building services were incorporated into the structural steelwork floor beams. Across the project, regular meetings, ongoing communication and open, positive discussions ensured alignment and synergy through the design process.

With a premier site overlooking the harbour, Commercial Bay is already an iconic landmark on the Tāmaki Makaurau foreshore and skyline.

Fire Engineering

Holmes provided fire engineering advice for the entire development, including master-planning to allow for future subdivision of the entire block into four discrete separate properties. The fire engineering allows for separate phased evacuation and independent commissioning and ownership of fire protection systems serving the retail centre and the office tower. Holmes was also engaged to provided advice to almost all of the retail and office tenants, to integrate their specific tenancy fitout design with the overall base building fire engineering strategy.

Holmes was also engaged to provide specialist structural fire engineering services to rationalise the passive fire protection requirements of the entire tower. Advanced finite element modelling was undertaken to analyse the response of the whole floor and megaframe in fire. The analysis demonstrated the robustness of the whole structural frame in resisting a full burnout fire. The resulting analysis showed the composite columns and secondary beams did not require passive protection and a reduced FRL could be applied for the primary beams. The analysis was peer reviewed by Professor Jose Torero who is a renowned international expert in structural fire engineering.

This resulted in major savings on site with regard to project timeframes, labour and material costs, and the improved aesthetic and air quality within the space. The costs savings in fire proofing alone was estimated to be approximately NZ $4M.

City Rail Link Tunnels

The City Rail Link (CRL) runs beneath the Commercial Bay site on the Auckland CBD waterfront. Holmes, as part of a Fletcher Construction Design and Build Team, were responsible for the structural engineering design and documentation of the portion through the Commercial Bay site for the owner Precinct Properties and key stakeholder Auckland Transport. This separate CRL tunnel portion ties into the two adjacent enabling C1 contracts, C1 (Britomart Station) and C2 (Albert St).

The two box tunnels are on a curved alignment and merge into a twin tunnel box within the site. Separation of the tunnels from the surrounding development and the transfer of loads from the multi-storey office tower above were among the considerable challenges involved. The CRL box tunnels are constructed within the Commercial Bay basement area, with the structure of the development forming an enclosure over the top of them. Tension piles resist hydrostatic pressures on the base of the tunnels. The cast insitu tunnel base, walls and roof were formed using moveable formwork. The tunnels were designed for IL3 loads, with a 100-year design life.

ASB Waterfront Theatre

Located in Auckland’s popular Wynyard Quarter, ASB Waterfront Theatre is the first theatre in the Southern Hemisphere to be targeting a 5 Green Star rating for efficiency and sustainability. Offering a 650 seat theatre, it features a glass walled air bridge linking the theatre to the ASB Bank. The public artworks within the theatre have become a major attraction of the building’s design with one of the works featuring 10,000 LED lights, creating an image visible through the theatre’s glass wall.

The building was redesigned in 2012 after an initial preliminary design phase was put on hold. The new design was one of the first buildings in New Zealand to adopt the new C/VM2 Verification method for quantified performance based design. This new design approach was significant, as it allowed Holmes to develop a solution that did not require smoke detection nor a dedicated smoke extract system. This is of huge benefit to a performing arts theatre as it eliminates the risk of false activation of smoke detectors and smoke control systems as theatre effects use haze, dry ice, and artificial smoke. This solution also avoids the need to have an ‘isolate’ facility on the smoke detection and fire alarm system eliminating the need for the stage manager to monitor haze effects and other theatre-created environments which typically play havoc with smoke detection systems. Designing a fire compliant solution without a dedicated smoke extract system, activated with hatches and doors, avoided the inevitable potential compromise into what otherwise needs to be an acoustically sealed auditorium.

Key parts of the steel structure were assessed for adequate fire resistance without the need for passive fire protection, saving on construction cost.

Top Ryde Shopping Centre

The Top Ryde Shopping Centre is a large multi-use building incorporating a retail shopping centre (82,000 m2 GLA), above and below-ground car parking, vehicular access tunnels, cinemas, restaurants, gymnasium, childcare centre, medical centre and library, all spread over five below ground levels and seven above ground levels.

Holmes provided extensive fire engineering and added significant value to this project through justification of reduced fire resistance levels throughout the building, drastically reducing construction timeframes and costs; increased travel distances and reduced aggregate egress widths, providing significantly increased Net Lettable Area; rationalised smoke exhaust and oversized smoke zones within the vehicular access tunnels, central atria and retail areas; omission of smoke exhaust from a number of areas such as the cinemas and library; reduced perimeter access to the building; and the use of two lengths of hydrant hose in the carpark and retail areas.

Subsequently, Holmes has provided fire engineering services for the seven residential towers which are located on top of the shopping centre.

V by Crown

V by Crown is a new 30 storey residential development in the heart of Parramatta, incorporating 519 apartments, with a mix of short-term and long-term accommodation. Designed by Allen Jack Cottier with interiors by Koichi Takada Architects, the building also includes an archaeological display and interpretation centre, international business centre, retail areas, rooftop bar, swimming pool, gymnasium, theatrette and six-storey basement carpark.

Holmes provided extensive fire engineering for the project, doubling the allowable occupant load within the Level 26 roof top bar. Computer simulation of fire, smoke and evacuation was utilised to demonstrate that the increased occupant number coupled with the installed fire safety systems resulted in safe egress time. Additionally, Holmes justified the design of an alternative smoke detection system within the Class 3 portion to reduce the likelihood of false alarms; omission of passive fire protection to multiple steel beams; reduced fire resistance levels in the retail areas; justification of extended travel distances and oversized corridors to avoid the need for additional smoke doors and egress stairs; unprotected openings between separate fire compartments; the use of glazing within fire walls; discharge of fire–isolated exits; fire hydrant and fire hose reel coverage; deletion of sprinklers from portions of the building; and deletion of zone smoke control to the retail and assembly portions of the building.

 

Sydney Town Hall

The iconic Sydney Town Hall is a heritage listed, 1860’s High Victorian style building containing three halls as well as administration areas and the Mayor’s office. The halls are used for events staged by the City of Sydney Council and are also hired out for functions.

The project involved refurbishment works integrated with an extensive fire safety upgrade of the entire building. The key client objectives were increasing the level of fire and life safety and heritage asset protection. The building was required to be partially occupied during the upgrade process.

Holmes worked with the design team including architects, heritage consultants, the NSW Fire Brigades, fire service contractors and The City of Sydney, to formulate a Fire Safety Upgrade Strategy that would achieve the fire safety objectives without altering or destroying the building’s unique heritage fabric and artefacts.

Our team of fire engineers provided solutions to resolve fire safety issues related to occupant egress, fire separation of the stairs and lift shaft, fire hydrant provisions, fire hose reel design, sprinkler design and smoke exhaust. Due to the unique nature of the project and heritage significance of the building, these solutions were developed to not only exceed those of the Building Code of Australia Performance Requirements but also be respectful of the ornate features of the building. Essentially the solutions were created to be in-keeping with the original design so visitors of the space weren’t detracted by the beauty of the building with modern fire systems.

During the construction review process, Holmes developed a number of interim fire safety strategies to resolve critical fire safety issues that were temporarily created during construction.

Throughout the project, Holmes’ role enabled the client to significantly improve the level of fire and life safety and property protection for the refurbished heritage building. This was achieved by delivering interim and final fire safety solutions that met regulatory and stakeholder requirements whilst being heritage sensitive, timely and affordable.

Infinity by Crown

Infinity by Crown is a landmark multi-use apartment building designed to be a centerpiece of the Green Square precinct revitalization. The development contains 401 apartments, mixed-use retail, a convention center, pool gymnasium, theatre, music room and lounge, all built atop a multi-storey basement carpark and a subterranean pedestrian link to Green Square train station. The striking design features two intertwined loops representing a connection between public and residential space.

Holmes became involved with the project at the concept development stage where we provided Building Code Australia (BCA) compliance advice and identified where fire engineering could assist in maximizing design flexibility and adding value to the project. The design has been pushed far beyond the limits of the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, with the Fire Engineering forming an integral part of the design from the outset.

Holmes’ well established relationship with both Crown Group and Koichi Takada Architects, across multiple projects, formed a solid platform for the development of the conceptual design, and the ongoing design development. Holmes’ early involvement provided the architect with the confidence to apply significant architectural freedom which was necessary to enable such an ambitious design to be realized. Holmes’ understanding of the key drivers and aspirations for Crown Group and Koichi Takada Architects has resulted in a fire safety design which is cohesive with the architectural intent.

Through collaboration with a large design team including the client, architect, structural engineer, mechanical engineer and fire services engineer, Holmes developed an intimate understanding of the building, and as a result was able to provide a thorough BCA Assessment at the completion of the Development Application phase, which formed the foundation for the evolution of the design going forward.

Holmes has since documented a significant number Fire Engineering Alternative Solutions to justify deviations from the building code including:

  • Reduction of fire resistance levels (FRLs) to retail portions of the development – providing construction time and cost savings ;
  • Justification of extended travel distances in residential and carpark areas – enabling one of the fire-isolated stairs that was in the original design to be deleted;
  • Provision of fire dampers in lieu of sub-ducts in the stair pressurisation relief air shafts – minimizing the space requirements for the shafts and maximizing the saleable area of the apartments;
  • Justification of discharge of fire-isolated stairs to the central open space where the path of travel to the street requires occupants to pass within 6 m of unprotected openings and back beneath the building – minimizing the area required for fire-isolated passageways and enabling the exterior façade of the building to remain clean and maximizing retail street frontage;
  • Validation of residential public corridors exceeding 40 m in length – omitting smoke doors in the middle of corridors that would have compromised the architectural objectives of the interior design;
  • Omission of sprinklers on the underside of the high level building overhang, over the swimming pool, and within selected areas within the residential apartments – deleting sprinkler heads required by the code, but which would be unlikely to activate or be ineffective in a fire;
  • Provision of jet fans within the basement carparks – enabling a more cost effective and efficient design of the ventilation system; and
  • Removal of the need for compliance for speech intelligibility of the occupant warning system within the basement carparks – providing a pragmatic approach to a frequently occurring issue.

Arc by Crown

Arc by Crown is an iconic mixed use development, an architectural statement, one that changed the Sydney skyline. Designed by Koichi Takada Architects, Arc by Crown is situated in the heart of Sydney and features a striking design incorporating heritage-inspired lower levels transitioning to a modern glass-and-steel tower, capped with a number of steel arches. The building incorporates multiple levels of basement carparking, two levels of retail and a combination of serviced and owner occupied apartments with a rooftop terrace.

Holmes provided Building Code of Australia (BCA) advice in the early stages of the project to identify potential non-compliance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions and areas where Fire Engineering could add value to the design. This enabled the design team to submit a bold design to council for Development Application approval, with the confidence that significant BCA non-compliances had been identified with a strategy in place to justify Alternative Solutions.

Arc by Crown contains a number of unique features that required Holmes to develop innovative, yet practical fire engineering solutions whilst still maintaining an acceptable level of fire safety. One example is the glass lift shaft connecting all above ground storeys, providing spectacular views to the north. The BCA prescriptive provisions require this shaft to be of masonry construction however, by providing a suite of subtle fire safety features, in-keeping with the architectural intent of the building, Holmes Fire was able to demonstrate that fire spread via the lift shaft would be mitigated, permitting the architecturally significant centrepiece glazed lift design to be embraced as a fire protected feature.

The design also incorporates natural ventilation for a number of the apartments. Holmes was able to develop a fire safety solution that enabled open windows in the fire rated walls between the apartments and the common corridors. This provides bright and airy living spaces that would not have been achievable under the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.

Other Alternative Solutions provided by Holmes included:

  • Extended travel distances
  • Omission of stair re-entry facilities
  • Location of the fire brigade booster
  • Omission of sprinklers from cupboards and concealed spaces
  • Provision of natural smoke ventilation to the through site link

Throughout this project, Holmes worked closely with the client, architect, services engineers, fire brigade, builder and project certifier to help identify fire safety issues, develop cost effective, practical and aesthetically achievable solutions which ultimately meet the design objectives whilst achieving suitable levels of fire safety for the building’s occupants and fire brigade personnel.