UWA University Hall
University of Western-Australia
Robert Bird Group
Douglas Mark Black
Lighter. Faster. Safer. Flexible. Economical.
Those are the five key advantages claimed by Austral Precast for its Austral Deck flooring system. But first, what is the Austral Deck system and how does it work?
Conventional suspended concrete floor slabs are cast in situ on a formwork base, sometimes timber, more often a metal ‘tray’, supported at frequent intervals by a forest of props. The formwork is then fitted with reinforcement mesh, and concrete poured and screeded to the finished height.
It sounds simple and basic … and it is. It’s also very slow, and time is money. No more so than on a large commercial or multiresidential project.
The Austral Deck system combines the speed of precast elements with the considerable structural qualities of a monolithic floor slab.
Here’s how it works. The Austral Deck elements, let’s call them planks, are precast in lengths up to 12 metres with a standard width of 2.5 metres. Thicknesses vary from 60mm to 75mm and 90mm, to suit the required loading specification. Each unit is custom made, with dimensions to specification.
The plank is reinforced and also has multiple rows of triangular truss reinforcement (steel lattice girders) following the length of the plank. These are embedded into the precast plank and project through the upper surface.
Cast-in items such as ferrules, conduits, and other service fittings and penetrations can be incorporated during manufacture. The system also allows for void formers to be placed and secured on top of the planks to reduce the concrete required for the in situ pour, typically by 30 percent.
After curing, the Austral Deck planks are then transported to site and craned into position, instantly creating a strong, safe working surface that will easily carry the load of trades and their materials. Work on routing floor services can begin immediately.
A layer of reinforcing mesh is then positioned and tied, and a layer of concrete poured and screeded to the finished height. The result is a strong, composite floor slab with the structural benefits of a conventional monolithic slab.
At the University of Western Australia, the award-winning University Hall project created apartment-style accommodation for over 500 undergraduate and post-graduate students in three buildings over three, five and seven levels.
This project made use of the efficiencies of both precast walling and the Austral Deck flooring system. The project was designed by HASSELL and constructed by Probuild.
“Speed of construction was a primary consideration because of the scale of the project and its short time frame,” Simon Marrion, Probuild’s design manager told The Builders Choice magazine. “Probuild’s response was to use precast concrete walls and floor planks for the structural system. These can be manufactured off-site and erected quickly. This also defines the external materials, of white concrete and block work, which are selffinished for ease of maintenance.”
Russell Perkins, Probuild’s construction manager, echoed these words when talking of his on-site experience. “The use of precast concrete walls, precast floors and pre-made, unitised bathroom pods certainly facilitated the actual construction of the University Hall buildings and ensured students could occupy them in semester one.”
Austral Precast supplied 611 Austral Deck panels for this project as well as 143 upstands.
UWA’s University Hall project was awarded the Harold Krantz Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing in recognition of the “sensitive and considered” way HASSELL catered for the varied needs of the student residents.
Austral Deck is a versatile system that offers a wealth of design and construction possibilities such as cantilevering, cast-in balcony and edge formers, and safety rail fitting points.
It’s versatility doesn’t stop at flooring. Austral Deck can also be used to construct roofs and lids for tunnels, shafts, culverts and tanks. Add to that decks and platforms, including vehicle and pedestrian bridges, curved flyovers, platforms and jetties.
However it’s as a flooring system that Austral Deck is unparalleled. Probuild’s Russell Perkins also said of his experience at the University Hall project “The precast and pre-made elements certainly made a difference.”