Melbourne is officially home to Australia’s tallest prefabricated building – a 133 metre, 44-storey residential tower at 323 La Trobe Street which rose at two floors per week during its eight month nightwork construction period.
Constructed by Hickory Group and designed by Rothelowman, the La Trobe Tower has been developed using an innovative new prefabricated construction method, dramatically improving construction times and reducing site disruptions. Hickory estimated that their new structural building system allowed the project to be completed more than eight months faster than traditional methods.
“This represents the cutting-edge of innovation in the construction industry,” said Hickory Managing director Michael Argyrou.
“With this project we have proven that there are faster, safer and less disruptive ways to build.”
All structural elements on the La Trobe Tower project have now been trucked to site and craned into place, with only interior fit out works to be completed.
The project’s success is expected to lead to more widespread use of the construction method, with plans for three similar Melbourne projects by Hickory Group already in the works.
“This would have widespread benefits for the environment, workers and consumers, while underpinning the creation of exciting new opportunities for the Victorian property and construction industry,” Mr Argyrou said.
Project architects at Rothelowman said industry adoption of the building methodology will revolutionise the relationship between builders and designers.
“It's an entirely new way of thinking, with designers working much more closely alongside the construction team than in a traditional build,” said Rothelowman principal Stuart Marsland.
“More importantly, the new system can be applied retrospectively to buildings which have already been designed.”
Hickory installed much of the high-rise structure during extended hours construction shifts, trucking in the oversized prefabricated components at night to avoid disrupting tram and vehicle traffic on La Trobe Street.
A quiet electric crane and strict noise control measures were put in place and monitored throughout the eight month night work period to ensure neighbouring residents were not disturbed by the activity, resulting in zero noise or congestion complaints.
“We hope the success of this tower will lead to more widespread adoption of our fast-track building method and provide a best-practice benchmark for future high-rise developments to follow” Mr Argyrou says.
The manufacturing investment has also created employment opportunities for automotive sector personnel to transition into the construction industry. For example, several ex GM Holden employees worked on the design and manufacturing of the building.
The building is host to 206 one and two bedroom apartments, plus a common area on level 15 featuring a lounge, outdoor terrace, kitchenette, and gymnasium.
Argyrou will present at this year’s prefabAUS conference on behalf of Hickory Group, highlighting the significance of the La Trobe Street Tower for the larger prefabrication industry.
“Australia’s tallest prefabricated building at 323 La Trobe Street in Melbourne’s CBD demonstrates how Australian innovation is dramatically changing the construction landscape,” says prefabAUS CEO Warren McGregor.
“The latest evolution of Hickory’s prefabricated building elements approach, devised specifically for high rise construction projects, enabled the 44 level structure to rise at a rate of two floors per week – double the industry benchmark – coupled with enhanced worker safety, 90 per cent waste reduction and reduced traffic congestion, this new approach represents world leading technology.”