Engineers disagree on whether Australian high rise is safe to reoccupy


Engineers disagree on whether Australian high rise is safe to reoccupy

John Wilson

15 January 2019

While only two of the four engineers’ have concluded it is safe to reoccupy the building, some residents have moved back in to Opal Tower, either voluntarily or because their hotels were cancelled by the builder. The engineers for the body corporate say they are waiting on further information before they can declare the building safe to occupy, while the New South Wales (NSW) state government only released its own assessment by three academic engineers today.

The builder, Icon, told residents in a letter on January 10 that engineers WSP, who designed the building, and Rincovitch Partners, had both declared the building to be “structurally sound.” No explanation was given, however, why a concrete panel on the 10th level of the 34-storey tower had cracked. The extent of temporary bracing that has been placed through a number of floors—up to a hundred jacks, each of which can support ten metric tonnes are being used—suggest that there are still concerns the building will continue to shift.

Icon’s letter stated: “It is entirely up to the residents whether they want to move in or not. Our view and the view of the engineers is that the building is safe to occupy.” Residents have complained about the lack of information.

A one page letter sent on January 11 by Cardno Engineering, who have been engaged by the body corporate, called for completion of the reinforcing and asked for further tests to “confirm finding of the non-compliant reinforcing in the precast on Level 10” and whether the significant spalling is a “one-off occurrence” or a “systemic problem.”

The NSW government report released today, which was prepared by Professors Mark Hoffman,…

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