Safety Without Compromising Splendor


City of Sydney Council


Sydney, Australia

Year Completed


Project Value

A $40M


Holmes Fire: Gold Award of Merit at Consult Australia Awards of Excellence, 2010

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.

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