Safety and complete confidence clear priorities for new mixed use 20 storey CBD building

The developers of a 20 storey building in Adelaide’s CBD say they have listened to public concern and have redesigned the exterior façade of the U City development on Franklin Street to completely exclude the use of approved exterior cladding panels, in the light of safety concerns.

U City is being developed by one of South Australia’s leading providers of social and community services, Uniting Communities and will include five floors of specialist disability accommodation and six floors of retirement residences in the heart of the city.

According to Uniting Communities Chief Executive Simon Schrapel, “safety and confidence in the building’s integrity must come first. We have moved quickly to redesign a very small element of the development to eliminate all use of any composite panels containing polyethylene materials in the building’s façade, in the light of the ongoing debate about their potential combustibility.”

“They may well be fully approved for use in Australia, but with the memory of London’s Grenfell Tower disaster still fresh we have gone back to the drawing board with our builders to ensure no such material, however small, will be used in U City.”

Currently under construction, 95 per cent of the building’s original façade design already incorporates completely non-combustible and approved extruded aluminium framing, glass and glass reinforced concrete (GRC) panels.

A very small proportion of the original design detail (around 5 per cent) had been specified using aluminium composite panels, which are approved for use and widely used in Australian building construction.

“However although they are approved and meet current building standards, the debate is still raging about the stringency of the Australian testing of such panels,” said Mr Schrapel.

“So we have decided to go one step further to be able to give our future tenants, residents and all visitors as much confidence as we possibly can in the safety of our development, we have now opted instead to use locally fabricated aluminium sheeting which is completely non-combustible and has absolutely no polyethylene content at all.

“This change in material may come at extra cost to us as the developers, however cost is clearly not our primary focus when it comes to safety and protecting lives. We are happy, as with the creative mixed use nature of U City, to be leaders in the development field for Adelaide and Australia,” said Mr Schrapel.

The State Government is currently undertaking an audit of dozens of existing buildings in the CBD which may have potentially combustible cladding, at the same time as a public inquiry into the cause of the Grenfell Tower fire gets underway in London.

“There was no question of continuing with our initial design – even allowing for it incorporating just 5 per cent of material which passes all current approvals – if people couldn’t feel safe living in U City,” said Mr Schrapel.

U City is now in the early stages of construction and is due for completion in early 2019. It will create 180 jobs during the construction phase and more than 30 additional ongoing jobs in the future.

More information about the U City development can be found at: www.ucity.com.au

 

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

Alice Minney, McCo Group -0459 982 217 or alice@mccogroup.com.au

Leigh McClusky, McCo Group -0411 711 780 or leigh@mccogroup.com.au