The Block 2020 – Back to Houses | Steel Framing Installation Case Study
Frames made from TRUECORE® steel help to deliver efficiency in this complex and fast-paced build.
The 2020 season of Channel 9’s The Block is a series unlike no other and BlueScope was proud to once again be a sponsor. Not only did the contestants and crew have the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with, but the build is also one of the most complex in the show’s history. Similar to the Elsternwick season in 2017 (read this case study), five rundown homes were relocated to The Block site in Brighton, VIC. Each team has been tasked with renovating these houses and also building a substantial addition onto the rear of the original home and constructing a separate studio/garage at the back of each property. These latter two spaces, the rear extension and studio/garages have all been built using framing made from TRUECORE® steel.
Julian Brenchley was once again the lead architect on The Block. He designed each house to be its own individual entity, while ensuring that they did not look out of place within the existing streetscape. This year he included many architectural features such as unusual rooflines and sky-high ceilings. Additional challenges that needed to be accomplished within the famously tight timelines on The Block!
No stranger to The Block and once again up for the challenge, was VIC-based Dynamic Steel Frame (DSF) who designed, fabricated and delivered all of the frames made from TRUECORE® steel. “There were some challenges this year with five extremely complex houses” admits Peter Blythe, Managing Director at DSF. He continued, “A lot of work went into the model to make sure it was faithful to the architectural intent. We did all of the design upfront in CAD or 3D and integrated the structural steel, the lightweight steel and all of the architectural requirements into the models. So, when we manufactured and rolled the frames, they were perfect for purpose.”
DSF had multiple teams to liaise with throughout the build. For the exterior construction of the rear extensions and studio/garage spaces, they worked closely with Site Manager, Aidan O’Shannessy and his team at Nine in Six Builders who were pleased to again be working with framing made from TRUECORE® steel. Said Mr O’Shannessy, “The design and prefab process worked a lot more seamlessly this year and was better orchestrated. We were able to stand up the extension framework in a really good time and the end product speaks for itself.”
For all of the non-structural walls within the extensions and studio/garages, Mr Blythe (DSF) worked with each of the team builders to measure and design these spaces. Said Mr Blythe, “I was there every Monday morning marking up the frames for each team. We would draw up any changes on my computer, I’d email them back to the factory and in the time it took me to drive to the factory, the frames were made and I would pick these up, drive back and deliver them to site.”
Not only under the pump from a time perspective, the designs this year also included some complex angles. “There were some very interesting architectural features in the design of the extension, especially in Houses #1 and #5” remembers Mr O’Shannessy. He continued, “These were really bespoke designs which had composite walls and roof pitches that are twisting and almost have an elliptical feel to them. This really added to the complexity for the fabricators”. Mr Blythe laughs as he recalls these features. “The roofs on House #1 and House #5, with all of the angles, were the most complicated things to get right. We spent a lot of time getting those roofs to work to code and to structural requirements. They are wildly unconventional!”
Another challenge thrown DSF’s way was the curved wall requested by House #3 that also included a fireplace centrepiece in the middle. Said Mr Blythe, “We were able to create the curved walls just by thinking out of the box. There are two pretty serious curves - one curve went in both directions on a wall. It was great to show contestants what steel can do.”
To renovate and extend five residential houses, plus build a studio/garage space at the back of each of the properties.
Key Benefits Delivered:
- High tech modelling:
- Forward-thinking modelling was used by DSF to design a framing system for each house that stayed true to the architectural intent that architect, Mr Brenchley envisioned. (PB)
- For added accuracy, the modelling was done in 3D or CAD and integrated the structural steel along with the lightweight steel and all of the architectural requirements. (PB)
- Design versatility:
- The DSF designed frames made from TRUECORE® steel were able to accommodate some challenging architectural requests including a twice-curved wall and unconventional rooflines on Houses #1 and #5. (PB)
- Fast and efficient installation:
- The frames for the internal walls of the extensions and studio/garages were measured up in the morning of the same day that they were delivered to site and installed. (PB)
- Having a prefabricated product made for a far less complicated installation process, due to a lesser amount of materials onsite, and fewer work areas that needed to be created. (AO)
- Straight and true:
- The DSF frames made from TRUECORE® steel are millimetre precise which meant that no frame straightening was needed, and the walls were easier to plaster. (PB)
Sources (in alphabetical order):
- Peter Blythe, Managing Director, Dynamic Steel Frame & Dynamic Pods (PB)
- Julian Brenchley, Architect, The Block 2020 (JB)
- Aidan O’Shannessy, Site Manager, The Block 2020 (AO)
Despite the many obstacles this season, Dynamic Steel Frame was delighted to once again be involved in such a unique project. “The atmosphere is challenging” said Mr Blythe, “But it’s very rewarding especially when you’re on the ground working directly with the contestants to make their vision a reality.”
Mr O’Shannessy agreed. “It was a very challenging project, but it has come out really well and everyone’s very proud of the end product. We certainly are, and we wouldn’t be able to produce the end product without all of our partners including BlueScope. It’s a really good testament to everybody’s input and the project has been a really great collaborative effort to get it over the line.”
The Block architect, Julian Brenchley is thrilled that the teams were able to bring his vision to life using framing made from TRUECORE® steel. “The design flexibility of the materials and the structure made our job much easier. It is lightweight steel prefabricated in a factory, so the quality is just out of this world as opposed to timber stick construction on site. We get straight walls and it’s a really good system – in that it just comes together. It’s prefabricated in a factory that comes to site and it works. It can’t get better than that” he said. Mr Brenchley also acknowledged the waste reduction benefits of using TRUECORE® steel, “Plus, the steel in TRUECORE® steel is 100% recyclable, making these frames a great choice to help conserve resources, which is a big tick from me.”
- Project: The Block 2020
- Location: Brighton, VIC
- Client: Channel 9
- Architect: Julian Brenchley, Group Architects
- Principal Steel Products:
- Framing: TRUECORE® steel
- Roofing and cladding: COLORBOND® steel Matt in Basalt®, Monument®, Surfmist®, Dune® and Shale Grey™ in a variety of profiles including corrugated, Snaplock, and interlocking profile in a standing seam style profile.
- Builder: Nine in Six Builders and various other internal builders hired by each team
- Steel Fabricator:
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 this project. Same/similar results are not guaranteed for each user and outcomes may vary across projects.