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Lightweight steel supports inspired façade in Prahran

Lightweight steel supports inspired façade in Prahran

Lightweight yet strong, light gauge steel (LGS) structural framing made from TRUECORE® steel was the material of choice for this striking façade structure.

Project – Viridi Apartments, Prahran
Fabricator – Dynamic Steel Frame
Façade engineer – Inhabit
Builder – Cobild
Architect – Plus Architecture
Developer – Little Projects
Façade installer – Bolt Blue Constructions
Principal steel product – 13,000 lineal metres of LGS framing made from TRUECORE® steel
Photographer – Tom Roe Photography
Address – Grattan Street, Prahran, Victoria

Situated in Prahran overlooking the Grattan Gardens, this multi-residential development boasts a skilfully raked façade, offering more than just architectural harmony with its surroundings.

By utilising LGS framing made from TRUECORE steel for the façade’s structure, the project team delivered the Viridi Apartments with great success.

Engineered precision

Peter Blythe, director of Dynamic Steel Frame, emphasises the meticulous fabrication of the façade frame made from TRUECORE steel. The frame was fabricated to fine tolerances to structurally support and accommodate the roof tiles, and a specialised flashing system that channels waterflows around the windows and down the façade.

Efficient construction

Alex Salom, contracts administrator at Cobild, highlights that the fully-engineered façade solution was prototyped and tested prior to prefabrication. The thorough detailing carried out during the design phase, along with the exact tolerances achievable with prefabrication, resulted in the smooth installation of the façade system onsite.

Lightweight yet strong

Blythe and Salom both emphasise the pivotal role of contractor collaboration in ensuring the structural integrity of the façade frame, essential for supporting the significant weights of roof tiles and the protruding windows on the building.

Window details were designed and tested prior to full-scale fabrication.
Window details were designed and tested prior to full-scale fabrication.

Project highlights

Situated amongst heritage cottages and cafés and across from Grattan Gardens, this striking multi-residential development blends artfully into its surroundings. The sloping façade, tiled in hues of green, gently pulls away from the street, allowing it to sensitively harmonise with the park around it. The windows that punctuate the façade’s design capture views of the surrounding environment and allow light to fill the internal spaces.

The appointed builder, Cobild, not only delivered on the design intent of this façade but enhanced it with the clever selection of cladding material and the structure required to support it. The façade design originally called for the use of hot-rolled structural steel with a glass-fibre reinforced concrete skinned cladding (GRC). With the desire to improve the façade’s enduring visual appeal and serviceability, Cobild recommended that the façade structure was changed to that of a structurally engineered LGS frame, designed to support roof tiles as well as the distinctively large windows.

Varying in colour from deep forest greens to lighter turquoise, the skilful blending of the high gloss imported tiles delivers an intensity of colour that heightens the visual interest of the façade’s finish. However, the modularity and weight of the imported terracotta tiles, at 70kg per square metre, also added to the design complexity and demand on the façade structure underneath.

Lightweight yet strong, LGS structural framing made from TRUECORE steel was the material of choice for the façade structure. Utilising almost 13,000 lineal metres of TRUECORE steel, Bolt Blue Constructions and Dynamic Steel Frame collaborated with the façade engineers to deliver a façade frame with the structural adequacy to support the substantial weight of the roof tiles and the protruding windows (some up to 300kgs).

With the window reveals protruding above the face of the tiled façade, a specialised flashing system was required to ensure waterflows were channelled around the windows and down the façade. The LGS façade made from TRUECORE steel was fabricated to fine tolerances to both structurally support and appropriately accommodate these flashings. Leaving nothing to chance, a prototype of the window details was designed, manufactured and tested prior to full-scale fabrication of the façade structure.

Post-tensioned concrete slabs were used at each level of the build, providing rigidity to the structure. Using over 800 brackets and 1,600 bolts, the LGS façade structure was then securely connected to these slabs using a method that allowed for slab deflections. The final façade structure was also designed so that the battens could be appropriately installed at defined intervals to support the roof tiles.

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Salom says: “Significant effort was required at the design stage to ensure the prefabricated LGS frames were consistent with the architect’s vision, performed structurally and could be efficiently installed during construction.”

Given the uniqueness and complexity of the design, Dynamic Steel Frame spent many hours finalising the details of the fully-engineered LGS façade structure prior to its manufacture. This commitment, coupled with the exact tolerances achievable with LGS fabrication, resulted in the efficient installation of the façade structure onsite.

“Once familiar with the approach, the lightness and accuracy of LGS frames made for efficient installation,” explains Salom. “Using installers that specialise in LGS framing installation was also beneficial.”

“We underestimated the design’s complexity at the start of the project, so it was pleasing to have such a successful outcome during construction,” adds Blythe.

Blythe highlights the Viridi Apartments as a prime example of what structural framing made from TRUECORE steel can achieve with the right expertise.

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