Laing O’Rourke for the University of Sydney

Quick Facts

Location: Sydney CBD, NSW

Installer: ACS Facades

Facade Engineer: Core Engineering

Austral Precast Double Wall provided Laing O’Rourke with a safe and effective method for constructing a new Micro Engineering Building amongst a bustling Sydney university.

The University of Sydney’s Darlington campus is conducting a redevelopment of their Engineering Technology Precinct, which will deliver the systematic refurbishment of their existing Engineering precinct to provide an environment that fosters world-class scholarship.The precinct, which commenced refurbishment in February 2019, will include the addition of a new Electrical Engineering building known as the Micro Engineering Building, which will consist of approximately 11,000 m2 of new and shell space and 6,000 m2 of refurbished facilities.

The redevelopment involves the renovation of the western wing of the existing building, with the addition of a new 10-storey wing to the building’s east. The building is characterised as a contemporary and collaborative facility, which will include teaching labs, research spaces, a school hub and academic workspace.The Micro Engineering Building will enable increased research opportunities for students attending The University of Sydney, and improve amenities for students, staff and the wider Darlinghurst community to enjoy.A key consideration throughout the construction of the revitalised Engineering Technology precinct was maintaining the operational university building with minimal disruptions to staff and students. To do so, Laing O’Rourke maintained clear segregation between the operational learning areas and the building site, and developed a clear plan for the demolition and construction processes to ensure all activities were staggered.

To ensure the safety of all persons on site and prevent disruption to the wider university community, a decision was made to use Austral Precast Double Wall for the walls of the new building. As an offsite precast product, Double Wall provided a solution to concerns around disruption and safety, as well as increasing the speed of construction.‘Our first priority throughout the construction was to minimise disruption to students and staff,’ says Joe Thompson, Laing O’Rourke Project Leader. ‘The Austral Precast Double Wall system allowed us to minimise noise and activity on-site, creating a positive outcome for the build and the wider university community.’Austral Precast Double Wall is a structural system consisting of a pair of precast reinforced concrete shells connected by lattice reinforcement trusses to form a cavity that is filled once installed on site. Steel reinforcement, edge forms and built-in components can also be factory assembled and transported to the construction site as part of the system.

Once on site, edge forms and reinforcement connections are completed and the hollow cavity is filled with premixed concrete to create a solid concrete structure, tying the Double Wall panels to adjacent walls and floors.With less weight than solid precast panels, the Double Wall enables savings in installation costs and time, proving beneficial for Laing O’Rourke as they are set to complete the build by the end of 2020.The decision to use Austral Precast Double Wall for this project came about by Project Leader Joe Thompson, who frequently used the system during his time at Laing O’Rourke’s UK operation. After seeing its success with various projects overseas, Joe decided to introduce it to their Sydney operation, where it was welcomed with open arms. The University of Sydney Micro Engineering Building is the first project where Laing O’Rourke have used Double Wall in Australia.‘We are always looking for innovative solutions to make our projects more streamlined, particularly through products that are manufactured off-site,’ Joe Thompson says. ‘By using Austral Precast Double Wall we have achieved greater savings in installation costs and time, which is really important to ensure we can complete this job on time to minimise disturbance to students and staff.’To reduce disruption to stakeholders, Joe and his team operated the construction site on a fast program, which meant minimising the time each trade takes to complete their job on-site.

This process meant the job would be completed in record time, and ensured there were less people on-site which was important for safety and efficiency.Working on a tight footprint, Double Wall was an ideal solution as it heavily reduced the amount of scaffolding required, giving the team greater amount of space around the perimeter of the build. When using the Double Wall system not only is scaffolding minimised, but there is also far less materials required on-site, freeing up a lot of additional space.‘Working on a 10-storey building with a tight footprint meant that conventional formwork methodology was not viable for this project,’ Joe Thompson says. ‘The Double Wall system provided all the benefits of off-site factory production, freeing valuable space around the perimeter of the build. The reduced weight of the panels could also be installed with smaller capacity cranes, which contributed further to space and cost savings.’Austral Precast Double Wall provided Laing O’Rourke with an efficient, safe, and cost and time saving methodology for building a new Micro Engineering Building at University of Sydney, in the heart of Sydney CBD.Double Wall allowed Joe and his team to minimise disturbance to stakeholders throughout the process of the build, which was their first priority. As their first time using Double Wall in Australia, Joe says that the experience was a great success, and has declared his eagerness to continue using Double Wall in the future.

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