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Critical Auckland Infrastructure Wins Top 2019 Concrete NZ Learned Society Prize

Thursday, 17 October 2019  
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Auckland’s spectacular $1.4 billion Waterview Connection Project (Waterview) scored a double at the 2019 glittering Concrete NZ Learned Society Concrete Awards in Dunedin, securing not only the Infrastructure Award but also the overall Premier Award.

Waterview Connection

Amid one of the strongest entry fields in the event’s history, the Waterview project was recognised for its extraordinary scale and complexity – and particularly for its immediate impact on and benefit to Auckland’s transport infrastructure.

When it was completed in 2017, declared the judging panel, Waterview “delivered something of real value both to the community and to New Zealand as a whole. It has reduced travel times for vehicles and facilitates other modes of transport and links them in unique and artistic ways.

“The finished product – an outstanding achievement – is a celebration of concrete. It incorporates many elegant components and complex features, and addressed a multitude of technical and logistical challenges. It has significantly boosted the resilience and capacity of the city’s motorway network. It is truly a deserving winner of our Premier Award.”

Andrew Dickson (Beca) and Nic Brooke (Concrete NZ Learned Society)

Held every two years, the Concrete Awards recognise innovation in the development and understanding of concrete and celebrate its appropriate use in the natural and social environment. Entries are assessed in six categories – Architecture, Infrastructure, Residential, Landscaping, Technology and Commercial/Industrial – with the Premier Award going to the top project among them.

Waterview entailed the construction of twin 2.4km tunnels and extensive sections of motorway – as well as significant retaining walls, large multi-level ventilation buildings and 1.8km of interchange bridges to connect two existing motorways (SH16 and SH20). Together, these components contributed to the completion of the 48km Western Ring Road.

The project’s major challenge was its twin tunnels. At the time of construction their 14.4m outer diameter qualified them as the largest diameter tunnels in Australasia, and the world’s 10th largest diameter earth pressure-bearing bored tunnels. They are supported by a precast concrete segmental lining comprising more than 24,000 precast units, fabricated at a purpose-built yard in Auckland.

Waterview Connection in Auckland

Delivered by the Well-Connected Alliance, the Waterview project team comprised the NZ Transport Agency, Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell Constructors, Beca, WSP, Tonkin + Taylor and Japanese construction company Obayashi Corporation.

Two years down the track, an average of 62,000 vehicles use the tunnels every day – a figure that climbs to more than 80,000 in peak periods.

Monte Craven Architectural Award
Fulton Hogan - Wynyard Quarter Pump Station, Auckland

Wynyard Quarter Pump Station in Auckland

Watercare’s new Wynyard Quarter Pump Station is critical for managing the wastewater generated by the extensive development in Wynyard Quarter. This project saw the establishment of a deep, wet-well pumping station with a 24-hour storage capacity for wastewater.

Because the architectural revitalisation of Wynyard Quarter, building a conventional ‘green block’ control room was aesthetically unacceptable – it had to complement the surrounding environment.

Instead, the team created a 12m semi-egg-shaped tank-like structure that housed public toilets on the lower level, the pump station’s electrical and control equipment on the second level, and a rooftop area that’s available for occasional events. A unique, original building that complements its surroundings.

Andre Van Wonderen (Fulton Hogan) and Nic Brooke (Concrete NZ Learned Society)

Who's Involved? 
  • Submitted By: Fulton Hogan
  • Owner: Watercare Services 
  • Contractor: Acrow Ltd

Judges' Citation 
The judges were impressed by the elegant design of this building and felt that it showcased a solid construction methodology with thinking "outside the box". The project overcame a number of technical difficulties and location challenges and was finished on time and on budget. This is a fluent and sensitive, original project, and the judges commended all involved for its combination of functionality and architectural artistry, which has resulted in a welcome contribution to the built environment. 

Commercial/Industrial Award 
BBR Contech - University of Auckland Old Arts Building Refurbishment, Auckland

University of Auckland Old Arts Building Refurbishment

Listed as a Historic Place Category 1, the 100-year old Arts Building – resplendent in its Oamaru stonework – needed a seismic upgrade. The project, undertaken between 2015-2018, used a variety of strengthening techniques – with particular care taken to preserve the building’s historic fabric while delivering a functional, modern space.

The seismic upgrade incorporated new, reinforced concrete foundations, reinforced concrete blockwork masonry walls, bonded post-tensioning bars, concrete repair and FRP strengthening. It also required the mechanical pinning of the decorative Oamaru capping stones, parapets and façade.

The works also comprised refurbishment of internal spaces including the updating of electrical, HVAC and fire services to meet the requirements of a modern teaching space. Many of the techniques were selected for their ability to be hidden within the existing fabric of the concrete structure, thus protecting the building’s heritage features.

Derek Bilby (BBR Contech) and Nic Brooke (Concrete NZ Learned Society)

Who's Involved? 
  • Submitted By: BBR Contech 
  • Owner: University of Auckland 
  • Consulting Engineer: Structure Design 
  • Contractor: Argon Construction 

Judges' Citation 
The judges were impressed with the final treatments used to refurbish / preserve this heritage building. The seismic strengthening techniques used are understated, and the partially exposed anchor plates provided a nice touch. This refurbishment project showcases a compelling fusion of modern technology with the heritage fabric, and it has been completed in an elegant and appealing manner. It demonstrates a sustainable reuse of the historical University building for future generations. 

Residential Award 
Xsite Architects - Tracey House, Auckland 

Tracey House in Auckland

Tracey House is a design/build project between Xsite Architects & Monocast (QS Building Ltd).

Monocast is an in-situ concrete building system that uses existing hand-set aluminium concrete formwork technology to construct houses and apartments. It’s specifically designed for use in a residential environment where the required shapes are often too complex/costly for other concrete systems.

The first full Monocast house built in New Zealand, this project incorporated several new techniques, including the walls and roof being created in one monolithic pour. In addition, a new insitu concrete cladding was developed – designed to be structurally independent of the inner structural wythe. The inner structural wythe stays at a constant temperature even though the cladding can change greatly over 24 hours.

Services are installed ahead of time, prior to pouring of the walls and ceilings. This creates silent plumbing. The house uses the thermal mass of concrete for heating and cooling.

Who's Involved? 
  • Submitted By: Xsite Architects
  • Owner: Colin & Doris Tracey 
  • Architect: Xsite Architects 
  • Consulting Engineer: Slab Specialists 
  • Contractor: Slab Specialists 
  • Other Firms: Rimpac 

Judges’ Citation 
The judges were particularly impressed with the efforts made to achieve this monocast house, with the walls and roof completed in one monolithic pour. The features of using shrink-reducing additives, structurally independent in-situ concrete cladding, and the non-opening windows directly wet glazed into rebates formed into the concrete are all recognised as innovative new techniques. The end result is an aesthetically pleasing, low-maintenance and economical build with nil construction waste. The house has achieved a zero-energy rating; using the thermal mass of concrete for heating and cooling, further emphasising its strong environmental credentials.

Landscaping Award 
Firth Industries - French Memorial, Wellington 

French Memorial in Wellington

The French Memorial – Le Calligramme – is a gift from France to New Zealand and is testimony to the friendship forged between the two countries following WW1.

Its design – selected from 43 submissions – is a striking plinth with a pair of tabula forms which was to be carved out of Caen stone – a light creamy-yellow Jurassic limestone indigenous to north-western France.

But importing a slab of Caen stone of the required size wasn’t feasible. Instead, the team sought a concrete solution to emulate the colour and texture of the stone. Firth Industries researched the full suite of sands and aggregates available in New Zealand, while Peter Fell Ltd developed a proprietary oxide blend to develop the desired colour of the mix, and supplied white cement to act as a blank canvas for the oxide to do its work.

Both in-situ and precast elements were used in the design. The precast structures were produced in Whanganui by Emmetts Civil Construction.

La Calligramme showcases the New Zealand industry’s ability to meet the demands of highly detailed architectural concrete.

Alistair Bennett (Firth Industries) and Nic Brooke (Concrete NZ Learned Society)

Who's Involved? 
  • Submitted By: Firth Industries 
  • Owner: Ministry for Culture & Heritage 
  • Client: Embassy of France 
  • Architect: Patterson Associates 
  • Contractor: Naylor Love 
  • Other Firms: Peter Fell Ltd, Emmetts Civil Construction 

Judges' Citation 
The judges noted that this memorial combines two large concrete elements that significantly enhance the surrounding landscape. This project is commended for its distinctive concrete solution that emulates the colour and texture of the original indigenous French Caen limestone. This is a real testament to the technical skills of the suppliers, design team and contractors. This socially important project celebrates an international gesture of friendship between France and New Zealand. The fact that its final result was featured in Architecture Now magazine, and it was showcased for the 2015 Anzac Day commemorations, are also testimony to its importance. 

Technology Award
Firth Industries  / Cresco Engineers Ltd – Firth Ribraft X-Pod

Firth Ribraft X-Pod

A collaborative development between Firth Industries and Cresco Engineers NZ Ltd, the Firth RibRaft X-Pod system’s key features include sustainability, minimal wastage, construction efficiency and suitability for a variety of ground conditions.

Initial research employed finite element analysis to develop the optimal shape for the pod which provided the required strength while minimising the concrete volume.

To enhance sustainability, the pods are manufactured with 80% recycled plastic content. To minimise concrete volumes, an innovative adjustable pod system was developed to allow for dimensional flexibility of the foundation system.

Improved constructability was an important concept. The pods are designed for compact stacking to optimise their transportation – all the components for a house floor can be delivered on a residential trailer.

Pods clip together using a RibRaft Keystone, holding them firmly in place during construction. The risk of polystyrene pods floating during concrete placement is eliminated. Because the pods are adjustable, there is minimal need for cutting. This accelerates construction and eliminates the potential for polystyrene beads to contaminate the concrete or the site.

Dene Cook (Firth Industries), Fabio Parodi (Cresco Engineers) and Nic Brooke (Concrete NZ Learned Society)

Who's Involved? 
  • Submitted By: Firth Industries  / Cresco Engineers Ltd
  • Owner: Firth Industries
  • Consulting Engineer: Cresco Group

Judges' Citation
The judges were thoroughly impressed by this environmentally friendly, time-saving concrete placement solution. The pod design allows for easy transportation and installation, resulting in higher efficiency and reduction in costs. The system uses less overall concrete, more recycled materials, and eliminates polystyrene pods, thereby contributing significantly to environmental sustainability. The judges also noted that the system was developed in New Zealand and has immense potential for foundations across the country.

Technology Award Commendation 
University of Auckland - QuakeCoRE-ILEE Low-Damage Concrete Building Test 

QuakeCoRE-ILEE Low-Damage Concrete Building Test

A shake table was developed to conduct tests on a full-scale, two-storey, low-damage concrete building.

Compared to smaller-scale component tests and simplified loading protocols typically used to develop/validate building designs, this technique sees an entire building subjected to real earthquake ground motions. It is the largest shake table test ever conducted on a representative New Zealand building system.

The test gives engineers the confidence to implement low-damage concrete systems, and demonstrates examples of alternative connection detailing that can be used to suit different design requirements.

The results are now being used to refine and update design guidelines for low-damage concrete buildings.

Geoff Rodgers (University of Canterbury), Yiqiu Lu (University of Auckland) and Nic Brooke (Concrete NZ Learned Society)

Who's Involved? 
  • Submitted By: University of Auckland 
  • Client: MBIE (Building System Performance) 
  • Consulting Engineer: QuakeCoRE 
  • Others: University of Auckland, University of Canterbury and ILEE Tongji University 

Judges' Citation 
The judges wished to commend all involved in this massive piece of work to validate and encourage more low-damage technology design solutions in future concrete buildings. As a direct response to the Canterbury earthquakes, this is a big picture item that will also promote the use of precast concrete construction. From a sustainability point of view, by reducing the number of buildings that may need to be demolished and rebuilt, this research will inform precast concrete seismic design in New Zealand for many decades to come.