Reworking the original structural steel design into a lightweight system yielded many benefits for builder, A W Edwards and allowed them to finish the build on schedule despite initial setbacks.
In 2012, A W Edwards won the contract for the design and construction of a brand-new primary school in Sydney’s Concord West (NSW). The school was a unique venture between the NSW Department of Education and the local council. The deal involved the local council providing the land for a school for the bargain price of $1. The NSW Department of Education was then responsible for remediating and redeveloping the land and building a school that could also be used by other organisations within the community.
The site donated by the local government was a disused parkland area near Bicentennial Park and Powells Creek , and the building program was quickly impacted by unforeseen issues that required extensive remediation of the site. A W Edwards quickly realised that they needed to claw back time in the building program in order to stay on track for the school to open for term one in 2015.
Austruss, a Mittagong based fabricator was already known to A W Edwards after completing several other jobs with them. They were awarded the framing contract after they redesigned the school to remove almost all of the structural steel and replaced it with a light-gauge steel system made from TRUECORE® steel. Says Austruss Founder and Managing Director, Andrew Fowler, “The school was originally designed as all structural steel. We redesigned it completely to be a light-weight system made from TRUECORE® steel and recertified it.” The project was also challenging from a design perspective continues Mr Fowler, “There were some big spans that we had to achieve. There was also a lot of cantilevered facades that are on really oblique angles that posed quite a challenge.”
The revised school structural design proposed by Austruss involved all roofing and internal and external walls constructed using framing made from TRUECORE® steel. The light-weight system was built on a concrete slab on the ground floor, and a suspended concrete slab on the upper level floor (a reinforced concrete post-tension slab). Project Director at A W Edwards Pty Ltd, Mehmet Aslan, was very pleased with the revised design - “Austruss came up with a very efficient alternative using a TRUECORE® steel system and it was all prefabricated offsite.”
This change in the structure saved at least 6 weeks from the building program and resulted in many additional benefits to A W Edwards including a more efficient build and a safer building site. (MA/AF)
- Andrew Fowler, Founder and Managing Director, Austruss Pty Ltd (AF)
- Mehmet Aslan, Project Direct, A W Edwards Pty Ltd (MA)
Key Benefits Delivered:
- Time savings:
- Approximately 6-7 weeks was saved from the building program by redesigning the school structure to replace structural steel with a light-gauge steel system. (MA/AF)
- The framing of all three of the school buildings was completed in 2 weeks. (MA)
- Cost savings:
- A shorter building program resulted in cost savings for the construction part of the project. (AF)
- A more efficient build:
- The replacement of structural steel with light-weight steel eliminated the need for running purlins as the trusses acted like purlins. (MA)
- The light-weight system also removed the need for running battens since the trusses are more closely spaced together. (MA)
- Benefits to trades:
- Once the Austruss team completed the installation of the framing, all of the follow-on trades were able to rough in earlier and work more efficiently due to pre-punched holes in the framing. (MA)
- Increased site safety:
- Since the framing was made from light-weight steel the trades were not dealing with heavy members such as structural steel. This meant lower risk for manual hazards such as slips and sprains. Says Mr Aslan, “We didn’t have any lost time injuries or have any high potential accidents on the project. The offsite manufacture and use of light weight steel framing elements was one of the main reasons for this great achievement."
- Due to the light-weight nature of the framing, cranage was also minimised leading to simpler logistics and therefore a safer building site. (MA)
Despite the initial setbacks on the site, A W Edwards completed the school in time to open for the 2015 school year – largely in part to the Austruss framing made from TRUECORE® steel. Says Mr Aslan, “The Austruss system really allowed us to claw back 6-7 weeks on our program. It put us back in line and delivered the project on time. If we didn’t use that system and we had kept our heavy-duty structural steel elements we probably wouldn’t have gotten there.” He continued, “We had the three buildings framed and rigged up in less than two weeks. The benefits to the program were incredible. The buildings were watertight within four weeks of starting construction. It was a very quick process and it was assembled safely.”
The Victoria Avenue Public School project has been a success on many levels. The local community has thrived and benefited from the local services offered on the school grounds including a children’s vaccination clinic and sporting fields. The project also won A W Edwards the 2015 Master Builders Association Award for Excellence in Construction in the ‘Public Schools Up to $50m’ category.
Since this project A W Edwards and Austruss have collaborated on many more projects including a hospital in Canberra that featured 97-bathroom pods. The pods were completely pre-fabricated offsite using framing made from TRUECORE® steel and then delivered to site and craned into position. Says Mr Aslan, “In the industry there has been a big push for offsite manufacturing and pre fabrication of building components including volumetric construction such as these bathroom pods.”
Mr Fowler agrees, “We always have to be stretching what the products are good for and where the industry is going". He continued, “Like A W Edwards we are a practical building company and our clients need a business like ours to be flexible to solve their problems. TRUECORE® steel gives us that flexibility. We are manufacturing an element out of TRUECORE® steel that we can adapt to solve different problems.”
- Project: Victoria Avenue Public School
- Location: Concord West, NSW
- Client: School Infrastructure (NSW Government)
- Principal Steel Products: TRUECORE® steel
- Builder: A W Edwards
- Steel Fabricator: Austruss
Disclaimer -The content of this case study is based on statements made by the sources listed above and is a reflection of their views and experience on the above Project. Same/similar results are not guaranteed for each user and outcomes may vary across projects.