Retaining Our City

timber lobby of the Battery San Francisco and guests

The Changing Nature of Our City's Architectural Fabric


Structural Fire Engineering

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The character of our city has formed over many years. What we recognise and appreciate today is the basis of this; therefore finding opportunities where these buildings can be retained and adapted to suit our ever-changing societal needs is the future of city design. Preserving our past to suit our urbanised future.

Fire engineering and structural fire engineering have a major role in this process. Structural fire engineering can assess the inherent fire resistance of the existing structure and by analysing the building from first principles, test its performance under real fire and provide a justified analysis on the opportunities for our existing buildings.  

Retaining our historic fabric is key to fostering our city’s past and with the inclusion of structural fire design when assessing these buildings will facilitate its flexibility for the future.  

Heritage Buildings 

When considering the opportunities to adaptively reuse a heritage building, our process independently assesses the fire resistance of structure in conjunction with the intent of the building so the building’s structural fire adequacy can be determined. Whether managing a steel, cast iron, timber or concrete framed building, our expert structural fire engineering team will work through first principles with the design team and local authorities to determine the values in which the building will be measured on. This holistic approach to fire safety design measures, not only the structural properties of a building and its fire protection, but also the use of the building and how it will respond in the event of a real fire. This process, enabled through performance based design, provides the client with a tailored approach that is determined for each building we assess.

Structural Fire Assessments 

Over the years, Holmes has provided structural fire assessments on several heritage timber and steel structures, working with the design team to achieve their design intent whilst implementing only subtle fire safety interventions to create a compliant and fire resistive solutions. Compliance with strict prescriptive code requirements will often lead to potentially featured elements being fire protected behind intumescent paints or plasterboard. However, with the inclusion of structural fire engineered assessments and utilising performance based design, the raw structural beauty of these buildings can be celebrated whilst also being fire resilient. Both  360 Kent Street in Sydney and Australis Nathan Building in Auckland are some examples of gentrifies buildings which have been assessed for their timber features and now stand as repurposed commercial buildings, telling a new architectural story.

Structural Fire Assessments, however, are not just limited to timber and steel buildings but also relevant for concrete buildings that like timber buildings are being repurposed for a new life. 40 King Street in Sydney demonstrated that an existing concrete frame structure was structurally adequate without having to increase the structural members to meet current prescriptive fire resistance requirements.

360 Kent Street — a workplace in the making

Historic Holmes projects in the Bay Area