The iconic Education Building in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District has been redesigned to transform the heritage-listed building into a world-class 5-star hotel. The Education building was built in 1915 and for generations has been used for government offices, making it inaccessible to the public. Capella Sydney sets a global benchmark for luxury accommodation, cuisine and cultural immersion, including eight levels of guestrooms and suites, a signature restaurant, meeting and event spaces, and high-end health and spa facilities.
From a sustainability perspective, it was important to retain the historic fabric of the heritage building and limit the amount of embodied carbon. Holmes investigated the fire rating of the heritage sandstone for this building. Using performance solutions, we tested the structural performance of the sandstone and original concrete floor structure under fire. The results showed that it had good structural performance, allowing the existing structure to remain with small structural enhancements to ensure fire safety. As a result, the fire engineering solutions provided by Holmes enabled great cost savings for the project. The opportunity for this detailed analysis is only possible from the specialised team and technology Holmes utilises in our structural fire team.
Stage two of the project involves the redevelopment of The Department of Lands building, which is to be competed in 2025. The building will feature a mix of retail, restaurants, meeting and social spaces and event rooms.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.