Fire engineering now trendy

Monday, 28 February, 2005

Fire safety engineering has helped to create a masterpiece in urban re-generation in the newly opened building known as 'The Refinery' at Cutters Landing in Brisbane.

Originally a building that housed the industrial processing operations which produced refined sugar, the building is now emerging as a development of 30 apartments.

Principal of Arup Fire in Brisbane, Chris Gildersleeve said that without the use of fire engineering principles that were incorporated into the heritage listed building, many of the important architectural elements would have been hidden.

"The Refinery project used performance-based fire engineering to allow the original steel, timber and cast iron structures to remain exposed without compromising the safety of occupants," Gildersleeve said. "This project is an excellent illustration of how innovative engineering can be used to preserve the character of a heritage building while also maintaining an adequate level of fire safety.

"Extensive analysis of the structural behaviour for a wide range of potential fire scenarios were conducted and demonstrated that there is enough robustness in the building to maintain stability."

"Traditional prescriptive building codes would not permit the use of bare steel, timber and cast iron beams and columns like this.

"The cast iron columns and exposed steel structures were treated with an intumescent paint that will swell up when heated thereby providing an insulation layer to protect the structures from the effects of fire," he said. A representative of HPA, Mirvac's in-house architects said that the efficiency of Arup's final proposal permitted Mirvac to hone their submission to achieve success.

"The collaborative efforts of both architects and engineers produced a clever solution without impacting on the existing building or the future residents of the apartments," HPA's spokesman said.

Fire engineering is a growing trend in the construction industry due to its ability to enable building owners and architects to better achieve innovative designs previously not permitted by prescriptive building codes.

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