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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.