Michael Spponer and co. have completed a thorough look at through the archives of Frederick Romberg and distilled it into a small series of posters and a video. In April 2013 you can see these in the windows of the RMIT Design Archives, next to the Design Hub on the corner of Swanson and Victoria Streets. It might last a while longer online here.
18.04.13 in architects
“A society dedicated to the screening of documentaries and films on architecture, design and urbanism.”
“Enjoy screenings of the best in documentaries + films on architecture, design + urbanism in the beautiful courtyard of ‘Walsh Street’, the house designed by Robin Boyd for his family in 1958. DADo screens feature-length films as well as shorts + animations, some will be imported into Australia exclusively for our subscription only screenings, others will be classic favourites. Guest speakers will offer their own unique perspectives on the film subjects to kick off the conversation.”
16.04.13 in film
Late last week I received a batch of photographs taken in 2010 and 2011. The sender wishes to remain anonymous. This was something of a relief as I had been scouring the web looking for high resolution images taken of the rear of the wall – a mesmerising task. So thanks, whoever you are. Thanks also to the two others who have previously provided privately-held images of the wall.
This photo, from a window high in the old maltstore, shows the September 2011 installation of super stops adjacent to the wall.
After staring at these new photos for a while, I wondered if the southern part of the wall was leaning a bit. The photographer remembers, “a slight outward lean of the wall at the time.” So I extended some vertical lines to vanishing point from several nearby buildings to see if I was right.
That showed the South end of the wall was on a lean, but I wasn’t convinced. As the adjacent lamp post is shown on a similar apparent lean I thought the lens was interfering. So I started again and used Photoshop’s new adaptive wide angle lens filter to horizontally correct the horizon, then vertically straighten the lamp post and the wall beneath it.
Having manipulated the perspective so that the lamp post was true, the Southernmost pilaster is still showing a bit of a twist or lean, of about 25mm. This probably isn’t surprising given the lack of restraint, brick expansion, and the three-sided exposure this part of the wall was receiving.
The following photos were all taken in late 2010.
The Northern end of the wall, demolished on the night of March 28th.
The Southern half, after some site preparation work (removal of asphalt).
The brick panel next to the gate
The next panel down, the northern end of the collapse. The gate bracket may have prevented further collapse, but it also caused local cracking. This panel was over-sprayed with new graffiti in early 2013.
A zoom, showing cracks under the gate bracket (red arrows), and the extent of the wall collapse (blue zig-zagged line).
Southern panels. Note the missing capping bricks on the closest pilaster.
Far Southern panels, note the capping brick that’s fallen away on the left.
Zoom of previous pic, to 100%. The cracks to the pilaster and end panel mentioned in the Herald Sub existed in 2010.
Closer inspection of this new photo shows more cracking and lost mortar, especially in the last panel.
The vertical columns are pilasters, not piers as I’ve previously described them. The U.S. Brick Industry Association defines a pilaster as, “simply an increase in effectiveness of a wall at a specific location”. Its effectiveness extends only six times the thickness of the wall (about 1.4m in this case), measured from the edge of the pilaster. The distance between each pilaster is about 4.4m, which would mean that the pilaster thickenings were not providing any benefit to a 1.6m span at the centre of each panel.
A series of proposals for the site never came to fruition, being stymied by the economic jitters of October 1989 and October 2008. Things came close to happening in 2008, when the asphalting behind the wall was scraped up, and an archaeological dig took place.
The Capital City Zone 2 C126 amendment was issued that same year by the then Minister for Planning, Justin Madden. Apart from exempting the development from public notice and review (in the interests of speeding things up), it stated that a planning permit was not required for, “site preparation and retention works including security fencing, site offices, bulk excavation and piling, footings, ground beams and ground slabs”.
The site was the first major development in town to be “taken in” by the Minister for Planning, in 1989. After several permit applications in the 1990s and 2000s, in May 2012 the current minister issued another permit with conditions for Building 5, then going with the name “Portrait”.
The permit required the lodgement of a Construction Management Plan explaining how the developers would go about demolition and construction in a safe and considerate way.
“Prior to the commencement of the development, including demolition or bulk excavation, a detailed construction and demolition management plan must be submitted to and be approved by the Responsible Authority.”
Five months later in October, an updated planning permit was issued for the same development, in response to a new application by ARM Architecture on 5th June. Oddly, the revised requirement for a demolition management plan did not need to be lodged before demolition took place. Perhaps this had been deemed to have taken place already, or that it was too minor that it didn’t require a permit?
“Prior to the commencement of the development, excluding demolition or bulk excavation, a detailed construction and demolition management plan must be submitted to and be approved by the Responsible Authority.”
Grocon completed a Construction Management Plan for Stage 1, which is behind the maltstore and doesn’t include the street frontage.
The only hoarding application I could find was lodged in April 2003, at the City of Melbourne. It was withdrawn four days later. It was for the “erection of advertising on the existing hoarding.” No further details are available online.
The council released a carefully-worded statement on Tuesday. Here’s an excerpt:
“We can confirm that the City of Melbourne has not issued a permit for the structure attached to the wall… There are four relevant legislative frameworks – Planning, Building, Occupational Health and Safety and Local Laws. There are intricacies in the way in which these interconnect and overlap. These complexities are likely to be considered by the investigating authorities.”
The council doesn’t say if the billboard should have required their permission, only that they didn’t issue a permit. They go on to underline that they aren’t responsible for the site, noting that the building site was private property, and that the Minister for Planning issued the planning permit. The Minister has previously said he hasn’t ever issued a permit for a hoarding either. This is a bit of a worry – the Minister is responsible for building sites all over the CBD which may have similarly confused boundary jurisdictions.
Signage normally falls under regulation 52.05 of the Melbourne Planning Scheme. Clause 52.05-4 mentions the sorts of signs for which permits aren’t required.
“A sign with an advertisement area not exceeding 2 square metres concerning construction work on the land. Only one sign may be displayed, it must not be an animated or internally-illuminated sign and it must be removed when the work is completed.”
There is other advice from the City of Melbourne saying that two advertising signs are permitted, each 2m by 1.2m. Hoardings are to be between 1.8m and 2.4m high. As the sign was approximately 3.2m high and 200 square metres in area, with another sign of about 29 square metres on the stacked containers, this one definitely required a permit from someone. As part of an application, the owner has to lodge details of the, “height, width, depth of the total sign structure including method of support and any associated structures.”
Clause 52.05 does refer to safety, but only to say that a sign shouldn’t distract or slow drivers. This perhaps doesn’t fulfil one of the clause’s purposes: “To ensure that signs do not cause loss of amenity or adversely affect the natural or built environment or the safety, appearance or efficiency of a road.”
I’ve read here and there that I’ve been overdoing it a bit, that sometimes walls just fall. I have overdone it, at some cost, but partly out of fear that no one else would and the issue would quickly fall out of the news. So I’m glad that the mainstream media picked out several items from the first post. Depending on where you read, different final conclusions have been made already. The wall fell because of the strong gust / the hoarding / the cracks. It was a combination of all three, and many more reasons that have their roots in events decades ago. This wall did not “just fall”.
The brick wall was an inbetweener. Not quite of the site and not quite of the street, it became invisible to owners and authorities. It was nobody’s business, a forgotten relic poorly built and not maintained. But it was a useful relic for keeping the curious out of the CUB site, for their own safety. Not that it stopped them – most of the useful photos of the wall were taken by urban explorers and graffiti enthusiasts.
The wall’s context has changed out of recognition since the closure of the brewery in 1987. Firstly Elders demolished the brewery behind it in 1989, exposing it to Westerlies it had never had to deal with before. The buildings that abutted the wall at its Southern end were also pulled down.
In more recent times, a large apartment building was built directly across the street, tram works and a super stop installation have taken place, and the bitumen area immediately behind the wall was dug up then used as a tip for mountains of spoil. Then it was all removed. There was also a decade long drought and a number of half decent earth tremors. That’s a lot to deal with for a wall that had been ready to fall for quite a few years.
Competing and overlapping jurisdictions have led to confusion about who was meant to be doing what and when. There are quite a few aspects that any inquiry will have to cover. Rather than having multiple internal inquiries, some held by bodies that may be partially liable, a better way would be to have one independent public inquiry. It is the general public who have been let down here, so they should be able to have faith in the inquiry and know what is going on during it.
( This post is posted as a draft on Thursday night, and revised and completed on Sunday )
12.04.13 in buildings
A week ago three people died while they were walking down Swanston Street. One was a French research fellow at Monash. The other two were a young brother and sister on their way to the footy. I published a post about the wall that collapsed on Sunday, gathering together what I could find from publicly available web pages. I didn’t expect the level of reaction I got. I was contacted by all sorts of mainstream media outlets, many in search of speculative comment. My investigations were made not because I consider myself an expert in walls and wind, but because I knew how to do it relatively quickly, and because I wanted to do something.
This was an accident of the “waiting to happen” variety. No one wanted it to happen, but no one seems to have done anything to prevent it happening either. The organisations involved, the way they interact, and the regulations governing them all, could do with some improvement. But conclusions should be left to the inquiries. We should be watching these inquiries, demanding an independent one, and making sure they have all the information they can get to work with.
On Thursday I happened to pass the site again. Once again it had altered. A bulldozer was scraping up the debris while a man hosed the dust down. A WorkSafe officer was taking photos of what remained of the footings. A group of random people were gathered at the makeshift shrine, paying their respects .
Here are some further observations about the wall – they aren’t conclusions. The previous post is here.
Overlay showing ground (2009), contours, approximate wind direction, and approximate positions of the collapse (red line), the mounds on March 28 (green ellipses – about 1.5m high), and the 7.2m high stacked containers.
Wall from North East ( Red_Baron_012 )
The red hoarding was built in October 2011, after a rebranding of the development by Cornwell from ‘Portrait’ to ‘Swanston Square’. WorkSafe visited the hoarding on October 12th to inspect the installation, following up concerns about the lack of a pedestrian management system. NEWS
The height of the brick wall was about 2.5 to 2.7m on the street side, depending on where you count bricks. The hoarding extended above the wall by about 250 to 500mm. It varied as the top of the hoarding was sloping while the brick wall stepped down the hill at intervals. The land drops by about two metres across this 78 metre street frontage.
Rear view, January 2013. (supplied by R.Liao)
The bricks composing the wall were of two types – extruded “wire-cut” bricks with hollow perforations, and older pressed bricks stamped with “CITY BRICKS”. City Bricks, now absorbed into Boral, had been pressing bricks since 1923. This mixing of bricks suggests that the wall could have been built from recycled bricks of varying ages, compressive strengths, and abilities to withstand moisture.
The freestanding wall had piers at about four metre intervals along the rear side, which might have been useful buttressing against winds off Swanston Street. [ design guide PDF ] But these piers were not reinforced or tied into a footing, and were much wider (2 bricks) than they were deep (half a brick). It might be more appropriate to call them decorative pilasters, making the wall look more substantial than it actually was. The outer skin of the wall was apparently not bonded to these piers at all. A photo shows how one pier failed in the gust of wind.
Left: View from apartment block across street (crop). ( Meld Magazine / A. Ngo) Right: North end of wall – pier imprint on odd concrete upstand – perhaps this predated the brick wall? Also shows that the bricks continuing down in front of the wall were in direct contact with the concrete. (PJ)
These ‘piers’ ‘supported’ twin-leaf wall panels with all bricks laid in the same direction. There was no cavity between the two leafs at their base, though there appeared to be a small one further up. This could have allowed the internal faces of the bricks to trap damp lower down.
Possible cavity or bowing showing in distorted telephoto image, March 28th ( Herald Sun / H.Blair )
The Southern end of the wall ended at one of these piers. This pier once abutted a rickety timber paling fence. In late 2011 this fence was replaced with a new steel one for the red hoarding. This new fence appears to have butted into the brick wall, and may even have been supported by it as not much else appears to have been holding it up. The hoarding was fixed to both the new fence and the wall, so any wind load placed on the elastic lightweight wall could have transfered to the rigid brick wall through the hoarding. This has been covered in the comments below the first post, and since by media.
Left: Southern end of brick wall abutting lightweight hoarding. There is a noticeable bow in this pier, but this could be lens distortion. The horizontal member of the lightweight fence appears to be fixed to the top of the pier. ( Herald Sun / Jem Richardson ) Right: Metal framing of lightweight wall where it abutted the Southern brick pier (ADL NOW / Alex Coppel)
Another photo showing the lack of support at the North end of the lightweight hoarding. The supporting steel post is to the right. (ADL NOW / Alex Coppel)
North end of wall (9 News). Much blurrier inset: Google 2009
On March 28th, a 9News bulletin panned over a vertical crack visible at the North end of the remaining wall, without comment. News Ltd has also found photos of diagonal cracking along the rear of the southern portion of wall. News Ltd found this shocking, but as the wall had no control joints or reinforcement, probable moisture problems, and.. who knows what in the way of footings, it’s hard to be surprised. News Ltd’s photos also show black matter at the base of the Southern wall segment. Hopefully this was a damp proof course (which I can’t see anywhere else) and not some kind of mould. From the Swanston Street side, there is also black staining visible on the internal face of the wall which does look more like a mould colony, indicating rising damp.
TOP: Black stuff? December 2012 (Herald Sun / Jes Richardson) BOTTOM: Swanston street side, March 28 (SBS/AAP)
At the Northern end of the collapse, there is a suggestion of what may have prevented the collapse from continuing further. A sliding gate rail is fixed into the wall at the point the collapse stopped. Then again, the fixing may have caused cracking, weakening the wall so that it failed at this point.
Northern extent of wall collapse, showing rusted door rail and fixing ( ADL NOW )
This part of the wall also seemed to have succumbed more to mortar problems than elsewhere. The front face of the wall showed efflorescence between the paint-sealed bricks, and the local pier, taller than the others, was quite uneven and looks to have eroding mortar. The end capping piece is an extruded brick on end, allowing water to penetrate with ease.
Left: Google Street View 2009 showing pier at Northern end of failure. Right: Northern end of failure, 2010. ( twitterpic by @funkineering )
Until 2012 the brick wall was partly shielded from Westerlies by a mound of earth and overgown grasslands. This was replaced with a much larger mound in February, after the overburden scrape. By March 28th, all mounds had been shifted and the area was flat. Clear new photos showing the location of this mound last December, and the nature of the land around it, have been sent in by Rita Liao.
Rear of wall, January 2013, affected area in rectangle. This also shows the asphalt and fencing that were removed in March. (R.Liao / butterpaper)
Rear of wall, January 2013, taken from beside the malt house (R.Liao / butterpaper)
Some time after 1967, a brick wall was built from the Queensberry Hotel right along to the remaining two terraces (557-561 Swanston Street, but shown as 45-47 Madeline St in the plan below). Terrace houses used to stretch the whole way up to the Queensberry Hotel, but had been gradually done away with bu CUB. A timber fence later replaced the two last buildings, which were demolished soon after the brewery closed. The removal of these buildings exposed the end of the wall to the elements and removed a boundary wall that may have been acting as a return.
1896 MMBW plan overlaid on Google map, red line showing collapse area, blue shaded areas indicating 19th Century cellars. (SLV)
Trade Quality Control Office, at 557 Swanston Street, shown as 45 Madeline Street in the map above. This building contained an 8 foot deep cellar. The doorstep and the bluestone pavers in front of this office at the right of this photo still exist. (1987 CUB video, 2013 PJ)
Here are some further images plotting this part of the street through the 20th Century.
Swanston Street in 1938, with the Queensberry Hotel at the right. Terrace occupants included residents and a diverse set of businesses: the Swanston Battery Service, a Chinese herbalist, a silver-plater, the Maternal and Infant Welfare Division, the Air League headquarters, Peter Kaye’s appliance shop, and the CUB Personnel office at No. 561. ( SLV / Lyle Fowler )
Aerial photograph from 1946 showing two storey terraces the length of the frontage. ( SLV / Lyle Fowler )
A 1952 aerial view from the North East. ( SLV )
1953 aerial from the North West ( SLV )
Buildings adjacent to Ballarat Street & Malt Store, 1963. At the time, these buildings at 557 – 561 were used by the Manufacturers Bottle Co. ( SLV / Lyle Fowler )
Here’s a blurry 1968 aerial photo showing the buildings still in place.
To date, this is the only photo I can find of the wall prior to the demolition of the brewery, taken in 1979 and showing the “top yard” behind the wall and the buildings at the South. This is the blurry online version. ( NLA: Wolfgang Sievers ).
The adjacent malthouse has been in a state of neglect for decades. Built in 1904 and out of use since at least 1987, it too has moisture problems. Moisture is trapped and spreading behind the paintwork added some time before 1988. Demolition of the abutting pier in 1989/90 without any remedial work didn’t help things. I hope that the deteriorating condition of this building is quickly examined in case it too poses a risk to passersby.
Water penetration at the Malt Store
The first brewery on the site was established in 1858. In 1907 a merger of six breweries formed Carlton & United Breweries who then operated from the site. Numerous owners performed building works on the site over its 129 years of production.
The brewery was used only for keg production after 1949, and was closed in 1987. A three part video documents the closure, which makes reference to an outdoor ‘top yard’ used for empty keg deliveries. It had an entry from Swanston Street. From a process of elimination, I’m assuming this to be the yard behind the fallen brick wall.
Rear of wall and ad containers, showing old asphalt, now removed. January 2013 (R.Liao / butterpaper)
The Australian asserts that there is a “squabble” between the City of Melbourne (CoM) and the Ministry for Planning over who is responsible for the wall. It comes down to a matter of definition – whether the wall is a free-standing hoarding (ministry resposibility), or a street advertisement (council). This wall is both.
The Minister says he didn’t approve the hoarding, and the council was “unable to locate paperwork relating to any application”. The Australian believes the council approved the immediate demolition of the rest of the wall. LINK
In its report of 14/03/13, Heritage Victoria list what is included within the site’s heritage registration.
On Tuesday 2nd April, City of Melbourne issued a press release stating that would not comment further, “at this time”. CoM
This section will be updated as any new photographs are found. The photos at the linked Flickr pages can be clicked on to see much larger versions.
Architecture graduate Paul Morgan, on behalf of a group, describes loss of podium as “architecturally regressive”. “Responsibility for the symbolic sense of the city has been abrogated by the State Government… The character of the city is being left to the developer and the architect.”
This post has been continued: PART 3 is here
EDITS: 10/4/13: add new image links, minor corrections, 12/4/13 lens distortion note, 26/5/23 new images.
07.04.13 in buildings
Hi again Peter. Great work on this. Keep it up.
A few general thoughts after reading some of your latest updates. Hope these can add to the discussion:
- a cavity? Yikes! Substantially weaker than a solid wall. – mounds and other obstructions can slow the wind but can also accelerate the flow locally – damp can weaken certain types of brick. Particularly if underfired. But.. – a membrane type damp proof course can substantially weaken a wall by providing less friction and less bond than a mortar joint. An over fired, pressed brick can have a very smooth surface, which can also reduce bond.
Hi Greg, great to have your struct. engineering input.
I’m not sure that was a cavity – may have been the lens – it didn’t look like one in some other pics but all too far away to properly see.
I was thinking along the lines of a mortar DPC – what was the norm back in the ’70s?
Can the level of firing be gleaned from the darkness of the brick?
by peter on 8 April 13 ·#
A custom web site consultancy run by Peter Johns (editor of this website).
Recent websites include…
01.04.13 in web-designers
tags: peter johns
On Thursday afternoon two young pedestrians were killed by a falling brick wall in central Melbourne, and another 18 year old was ferried to hospital in a critical condition but died on Easter Sunday.
This article tries to assemble some of the publicly available information on this wall, it isn’t trying to point the finger anywhere. The initial reason for doing so was that the newspapers missed quite a bit and got some things wrong. Please note that this article contains imagery and descriptions which may be distressing.
Grocon, the police, WorkSafe, and the coroner are all launching investigations into the collapse. But on the night of the accident, the full length of the partially-collapsed brick wall was removed and thrown in a heap. The stacked advertising containers next to the site of the collapse were also pulled down and rotated so that the Swanston Square branding didn’t show. The site in no way resembles what was there before the incident.
In the haste to remove everything to do with the sad event, the tidy-uppers neglected to remove the blood stains on the footpath. They were not even cordoned off on my visit a day later. Such haste at what is possibly a crime scene is troubling. I hope it was all with the permission of the council, police, and coroner. They have hardly had any time to make a detailed investigation into the structure of the wall that was left, and now they can’t.
Interactive imagery from Google Street View, dated 2009:
View Larger Map
There has been misinformation in the news. The brick wall in question was not heritage-listed, nor was it a century old. It was not even there in 1967, when the area was occupied by a row of shops. The brewery was unfortunately not well photographed by CUB, whose sole set of publicly available online photos was taken from the rooftop in the 1920s – not very helpful. The wall was probably built as part of major rebuilding works that took place in the Sixties – a photo shows what might be the continuation of this wall into the malt store.
Malt store in the 1980s, showing brick arch over laneway matching fallen wall. ( SLV image )
1945 view South down Swanston Street, showing CUB and buildings where fallen wall was. ( SLV image )
Across CUB rooftops in 1920s, showing Swanston Street shops circled at location of fallen wall. ( SLV image )
The Adderley Smith Blues Band posing in front of the Queensberry Hotel, 1967. Some shops at the location of the wall are at the left of the photo. (credit: Len Weigh )
Looking at the wall on Good Friday, what remains of it, the rear two-thirds sat along a badly poured concrete strip footing, the streetside third of it continuing downwards in modern wire-cut brick for several courses. The wall appears in news photos to have fallen forward off its concrete perch.
Area of collapsed wall, March 29th 2013. (PJ)
Zoom in to 7News footage, March 28th
The wall fell for a length of at least 15m. It was anchored at the Northern end of the fallen section by a hefty Parallel Flange Channel with ties into the wall. This PFC is one of two still flanking an old vehicle access way in the wall that was covered by the new hoarding. There was nothing holding the all in place at the Southern end.
Northern end of collapsed wall – bricks now removed. (PJ)
Unrestrained Southern end of collapsed wall. (Google 2009)
The wall may have been laterally supported at some stage if it was part of a larger structure continuing on towards the Malt Store.
Photographer Len Weigh, who graciously supplied the Adderley Smith Blues Band photo above, provided me on Sunday night with 174 images he took of major tram works in Swanston Street in 2008. He wonders whether the integrity of the wall may have been affected by the tram works, which involved four jack hammer vehicles working together. Following are a few of his images showing the then black wall in the background. Further major road works occurred over two weekends in late 2011 when a tram super stop was installed and the road realigned.
All photos Len Weigh, 2008
Grocon bought the site from RMIT in 2006. At that time it was covered in ageing and weedy bitumen. Until this year, not much was happening. There has been a lot of activity on the back side of the wall in recent months. Grocon have stated that there was no construction activity happening at the time of the incident, but site preparation has been taking place in earnest.
In January, the asphalt and topsoil (“overburden”) was scraped up, including asphalt very close to the wall. [ 2007 2013 ] In February, a large mound of fill appeared behind the wall, presumably consisting of this overburden and tailings from the La Trobe archaeological excavations which finished at the end of last month. This month most of the mound disappeared. Heavy machinery would have been required to put the mound there, then to take it away. The ground around the stack of containers, immediately North of the collapse, appears to be flooded in TV helicopter footage.
Late February, 2013. ( Credit Glenn Wilson )
February view Eastwards from archaeological dig towards the East, showing mound and hoarding. ( VHD )
Mounds gone, March 28th, 2013 ( Credit: 9News )
_Possible flooding around site of collapse, March 28 ( 10 News video )
The entire length of the wall was recently covered in a 12mm plywood hoarding, constructed in early 2012 or before [ May 2012 photo ]. It’s now lying in shards in the debris. This was fixed to the brick wall through thin vertical straps, possibly on ‘top hat’ furring channels which are present in the debris. The hoarding extended beyond the top of the wall, to even out the steps in it, but also creating a sail of sorts. The straps created open vertical cavities the length of the wall. All of this would be visible had the remainder of the wall and hoarding not been removed on Thursday night in the interests of what – safety? cleaning things up? Lateral braces would have done the job.
Zoom of the archaeological dig image above, showing the hoarding extending well beyond top of the brick wall.
Photo from a 7News helicopter showing the hoarding being lifted on March 28th.
Demolished hoardings from the remaining wall, and furring channels. March 29 2013. ( PJ )
The two stacked 40 foot shipping containers raise another possibility. At about 7.2 metres high, they act like a building as far as wind is concerned. The failed wall was one of the only stretches of the Eastern boundary without a structure to deflect the wind – and so took extra funnelled wind because of it.
Two images showing the location of the three stacked shipping containers used for advertising. Left: Late February (Glenn Wilson). Right: March 28th (news).
The containers disassembled and rotated so that the Swanston Square advertising is not visible. March 29th, 2013 PJ.
Lots of questions are raised and I hope they are answered by the four separate investigations. Hoarding collapses are not uncommon in Melbourne, though they should be. Last year I took photos of two in a single bike ride in February. Luckily they didn’t hit anyone. They weren’t reported.
Fallen hoardings in Elgin Street and Wellington Street, February 5, 2012. ( PJ )
From an admittedly quick reading of the current regulations, there seems to be a gap in hoarding regulations when construction or demolition has not commenced, and where hoardings are not the “over-the-footpath” type [ CoM Code of Practice PDF ]. The City of Melbourne encourages solid hoardings rather than open chain wire ones – “to secure a building site and
form a barrier against noise, dust and debris” – but for WSW wind gusts of up to 76kph, like Thursday’s, the more porous the fence the better. Before the new hoarding was installed, there were many gaps to allow the wind through.
Many Codes of Practice have become redundant following the advent of the new performance-based OH&S regime in 2004. Try finding one for the construction industry that hasn’t been archived: WorkSafe Victoria Search. There is a new federal code of practice for demolition , but it seems to cover states other than Victoria, and again misses this situation where there is no construction or demolition taking place. All these codes place the worker at the centre of attention rather than the general public – I guess that’s WorkSafe’s remit.
Compare this tangle of code in Victoria with somewhere like Alberta, where the safety of passersby is up front and central in new regulations. This is because three year old Michelle Krsek was killed by flying metal in 2009 while walking past a Calgary construction site with her family in strong wind conditions. It shouldn’t have to take a death… or
two three to wake people up to dangerous sloppiness.
[ article edited 31.03.13, three additions; 01.04.13 link added, wind speed lowered, minor amendments, further reference links added; 02.04.13 furring channels, super stop construction, and possible flooding added; 08.04.13 minor deletion ]
Part 2 of this post, dated April 7th, is here
31.03.13 in buildings
The wooden hoarding to the left of the masonry wall was fixed to the masonry wall. This section of plywood could conceivable have been blown by a gust of wind and acting as a lever pulled the masonry wall over.
As you have reported the City Council local laws require a permit for the construction of building site hoardings. The construction company should have applied for a permit to construct the new advertising hording and the City Council Engineering services should have inspected it.
If the wooden paneling was designed in such a way that the panels allowed for independent movement or a control joint they might not have applied levered pressure to the masonry wall causing to to tumble.
You need to look at the photos showing the parts of the wall left standing and the design and quality of the construction of the left wooden section.
The 2009 Google Street view photos show a fill in panel that was structurally separate from the masonry wall.
The city council, the developer, engineer and the company that built the hoarding share responsibility for this tragic accident.
by Archimedies Leverage on 31 March 13 ·#
Try building a wall to scale out of Leggo bricks and subject it to a wind load. (Grand design or Air-crash investigation style)
Next attach a piece of solid cardboard to simulate the hoarding and apply the same wind loading, The wind would catch the hoarding and lever down the wall from the unsupported left hand side. It only needs to move a few cm and the walls integrity is compromised.
If you look at the remaining concrete foundations there is no sign of rotation or foundation collapse. The most likely suspect is the hoarding.
Council by-laws require a building permit for the construction of a hoarding. The City of Melbourne should have plans and details of the hoarding and hopefully also inspected it.
The walls mortar may been weakened by the construction of the tram stop but the most likely case is the left hand edge of the wall and the open hoarding combined with the extra height.
by Stuctural Model Under Load on 1 April 13 ·#
You are right. The fact that the hoarding was fixed to the wall without a break joint would have added pressure and leverage magnifying the wind load placed on the unsupported masonry wall.
There was inadequate lateral support to the structure.
This should have been identified by the City of Melbourne who should have inspected the site as part of the building site permit process.
The hoarding on the western wall is stronger construction and had solid support, but it also has a large span that is unsupported. Ideally there should be support bracing every 5-10 meters.
The fact that the plywood hoarding was fixed to the brick masonry wall without lateral support on the southern edge most likely was the cause of the walls collapse.
The previous hoarding was a separate unit and as such allowed for independent movement.
The increase in height is another factor that would have contributed to the walls collapse.
The design and engineering of the hoarding needs to be inspected and subject to a thorough review and engineering wind load testing to determine if it met industry standards set down for the City of Melbourne.
I hope the owner, developer, engineers and city council have good insurance cover as the underwriters could conceivably not pay out in what will be a very expensive law suit and compensation claim against all parties involved. Watch them run for cover and avoid owning up to their responsibility. Shares in the project site will undoubtedly be effected.
by Anonymous on 2 April 13 ·#
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said Council wants to create a landmark precinct at Evandale framed by the Nerang River and with views of the city skyline and hinterland mountains. Council’s vision for the site includes a Living Arts Centre, for performing arts and cinema; a New Arts Museum for media, art and design; a stunning outdoor garden Artscape and a green bridge to adjacent Chevron Island.
“Concepts will need to be distinctive and innovative and will have to respond to a comprehensive design brief. The winning design will evolve into the city’s creative commons, a place loved by residents and a must-see visitor destination.
“This will be a complex task, so we are encouraging multi-disciplinary design teams. We hope to see involvement from local, national and international designers across a wide range of disciplines, from architecture and engineering to digital and lighting design and arts management.”
Mayor Tate said the jury would be looking for something outstanding; something that captures the essence of the city and its cultural identity, with the potential to attract investment and to contribute to the Gold Coast’s place as a major tourist destination.
Stage one, from 26 March, will provide competitors with six weeks to develop and submit proposals that include a high-level design response and outline their team’s capability. An independent expert jury will assess submissions.
Stage two, over 12 weeks from 18 June, during which up to three short-listed teams will each be paid AUD$250,000 to further develop their responses. The jury will then select a winner to work with Council to deliver the cultural precinct.
26.03.13 in competitions
I was just cycling home from the Bob Mould concert at the Corner Hotel, with an extra ring in my ears beyond the usual tinnitus, when I was reminded of something, that I dwelled on for the rest of my ride. It was just another rental truck…
20 years ago I was working in my father’s home office, while studying architecture in Auckland. One of his clients drove up onto the lawn, unannounced . He was called Duncan I think, quite a lovely man. He wanted to give his company’s logo a quick overhaul, and for some reason thought his architect was the best place to go. My father and I assisted him for about an hour, and then he was off, with some coloured pencil sketches on the back of recycled paper. He thought the current logo was a bit Seventies, heavy, and dated. We helped him add the colour and sense of distance to it that he wanted. Though I had my reservations, as the old Budget Rentacar logo was one of my favourites. I’m not sure who did what, as it was a while ago.
Even further back, in 1986, I was doing work experience in an advertising studio responsible for the local Ansett account. I can’t remember any stand alone graphic design studios at the time. They put me in a corner with coloured pencils and asked me to come up with an ad for Ansett. I went for something with a little perspective, a runway. Not too uncommon in the 80s, as I did like triangles. I’ve just realised how uncannily close to the ‘new’ Budget logo it was. There is some extra irony as Bob Ansett used to own the Budget brand in Australasia.
Maybe I was more involved that I remember in the ‘renewal’ of one of my favourite logos. I would like to think I was at least responsible for the retention of the old font, which I vaguely remember arguing for. That was the beginning and end of my graphic design career. Anyway, now I am reminded of that sunny morning in a suburban Auckland office every time I see that logo, pasted on trucks all over the globe. Funny how the tiniest things you do can end up following you for a long while.
Googling for images of the logos, I found out that it was just been updated again, for the first time in ages. Now the font and the colour have gone. Looks a bit weak to me.
Budget 1970s – best I could find – it was black with orange strips representing tire tracks.
Budget 1993 – straight outta Milford, Auckland
Budget 2012 rebrand
13.03.13 in graphic-designers