Uniting Communities Redesigns Building Facade Following Grenfell Tower Disaster


In response to public concerns for safety, Uniting Communities have announced they have redesigned the exterior façade of the U City development on Franklin Street to completely exclude the use of approved exterior cladding panels.

"Safety and confidence in the building’s integrity must come first," Uniting Communities chief executive Simon Schrapel said.

"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.

"We have now opted instead to use locally fabricated aluminium sheeting which is completely non-combustible and has absolutely no polyethylene content at all," Schrapel said.

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.

Uniting Communities and will include five floors of specialist disability accommodation and six floors of retirement residences in the heart of the city.

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,” Mr Schrapel said.

U City is now in the early stages of construction and is due for completion in early 2019.

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