Princes Wharf’s innovative renovation

by FM Media
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The management of the recently refurbished Princes Wharf No 1 has been optimised by a fitout design that ensures multifunctionality, SAXON MITCHELL, the venue manager, notes. In addition, the innovative renovation includes effective automation and louvre windows that double up as a fire safety system.

The Princes Wharf No 1 building, which was built in 1939, has undergone a major refurbishment. The premises were largely unaltered from 1939 until 2009/2010. Although it is one of the most significant buildings on the Hobart waterfront, in terms of the evolution of the working port from a technical and aesthetic perspective, the site was largely underutilised and not easily accessible for the Tasmanian community until 2010. Following an extensive public consultation, it was decided to refurbish the facility into a multipurpose community events centre to be used for festivals, concerts, arts events, conferences and exhibitions.
The multipurpose nature of the recently refurbished Princes Wharf No 1 ensures that the facility will be able to cater to the needs of many different community, cultural and commercial events and exhibitions, thus ensuring long-term viability for the Tasmanian Government. The fitout of the building ensures this multifunctionality, while a new building management system (BMS) eases management of the facility.

The fitout design was guided by the need to provide flexibility for a wide range of uses. This flexibility is evident in the seating, room partitions, stages, sound system and access to powered systems. In addition, a number of functions are remote controlled, including the vertical black room partition blinds that divide the internal area between the bookends and the upper level clerestory window blinds.
The venue was fitted out with moveable (internal and external) retractable seating for 496 people in eight banks of raked seating rows, and 194 individual matching stackable chairs. This makes up a total of 690 seats. Each bank of retractable seats includes six rows and 62 seats.
Each retractable bank of seats has a dimensions of 1.3 metres (depth) by six metres (width) when closed, 5.6 metres (depth), excluding front step, by six metres (width) when open and an overall closed height of 2.8 metres. The banks are moved within the shed with a ‘tug’.
Another fitout feature that enables adaptation of the shed interior to suit the needs of numerous types of events is the approximately 80 metres of black woollen theatre drapes that can be hung via chains throughout the shed. There are 21 individual drops, each 3.8 metres in length, allowing for an overlap. Room partition blinds and drapes fall from the lower trusses to the floor – an approximately five-metre drop.
The venue also includes a portable stage comprising 15 Megadeck stage panels that can be configured in any manner. They are each 1.2 metres by 2.4 metres (providing a total area 43.2 square metres), and 600 millimetres high, and include handrails and steps. There are three stage points – one in each bookend and one in another location – and three control points located inside the Castray Esplanade side wall.
The sound system installed also lends to the venue’s multipurpose nature. Category six wiring with designated audiovisual cabling and associated backbone distribution systems throughout the interior provide flexible usage options.
Along with the catering service kitchen, there are four self-contained demountable stainless steel cooking kiosks with individual exhaust hoods and risers, sinks and lighting with plug-in plumbing points along the centre of the shed (water, LP gas and electricity). This allows venue hirers to provide guests with live food cooking stations and a moveable feast. This is a great alternative to the standard three-course menu typical of many banqueting facilities.
There is an open space beneath the catenary structure in the forecourt, with services in each catenary pole for single phase and three-phase power, and data. Additional three-phase power can be made available through temporary underground conduits, hydraulics services, and in-built audio speakers to each pole. Overhead is an elevated canopy comprising a catenary lighting structure with integrated shade cloth sails, which cover approximately half of the total catenary area. Additional live loading opportunities for special lighting and gantries, for example, are also afforded.
Ease of setting up and knock down is facilitated by truck bump-in bump-out facilities that allow for vehicle access to the shed interior via a loading bay from the ‘paddock’. The maximum entry width into the shed is 6.09 metres. The width between the ‘paddock’ end bookends is 4.5 metres, which is sufficient to allow a 2.5-metre width semi-trailer.

Another innovation installed during the refurbishment are the louvre windows systems, which are tied into the fire system, essentially allowing the old shed shape to work as a multipurpose venue.
David Auret, Queensland manager of Winco Systems, which completed the installation of the louvre windows, notes that the Schneider Louvre system installed at Princes Wharf is fully automated for daily natural ventilation, which is controlled via the BMS, but highlights that it has a more important secondary function as a smoke exhaust.
“The louvres are manufactured in Germany by Schneider Nolke and differ to domestic glass louvres in that they are specifically engineered for commercial buildings – having significantly heavier mechanisms – and utilise 12.76-millimetre glass blades,” Auret says. The heavier construction is designed to reduce long-term maintenance and servicing costs, and it also allows for greater daylight areas with greater spans than are normally achievable.
According to Auret, installation in a refurbishment project such as Princes Wharf poses some challenges as old timber buildings have a lot of movement and it is essential for louvres to be fitted perfectly square, so as to not jam the mechanisms. He notes that the automation component is achieved with LDF louvre actuators by D+H Mechatronic, adding that these drives are only 25 by 25 by 400 millimetres in size and have no visible moving parts. “While there is no Australian standard for this equipment, the LDF drives and associated control panels are certified to EN12101-2 (ISO21927-2). The drives are microprocessor controlled and can be programmed for operating force and speed in both opening and closing directions.”
In addition, the louvre windows are low maintenance. Auret explains, “They have an anti-pinch function to prevent hands from being crushed in closing windows (this is a feature of all D+H commercial drives) and, most importantly, there is a gasket relief function, which ensures, after the windows are closed as tightly as possible, the drives reverse by a few millimetres to release the pressure on the window seals, so that they function correctly and do not get distorted over time. This greatly impacts future maintenance costs compared to other automation systems.”
In the event of a fire, certain louvres will open to exhaust smoke from the building. Even if the power fails, they will still operate in the event of a fire. “The D+H control panels have an inbuilt 72-hour battery back-up that is monitored. In the event of a power failure, the louvres will be driven closed, the ventilation function disabled and the system goes into a standby mode and will only operate in the event of a fire,” Auret imparts. He notes that the cables to the motors are monitored in case a short circuit occurs (for example, someone accidently drives a nail through a cable). “The panel would go into fault mode and repairs can be carried out prior to any fire event.”
Furthermore, the incoming fire alarm signal is monitored; thus, if the FIP malfunctions or the cable is damaged, the louvres will automatically open in fire mode. Inside the panel, there is a thermal element to detect any fire within the panels and, in such a case, the windows are driven open prior to any serious damage occurring.
As part of the EN12101-2 certification, the LDF louvre drives are certified for 10,000 double strokes; however, on projects such as NAB’s headquarters in the Docklands, Melbourne, drives have exceeded over 30,000 to 40,000 cycles as recorded by an on-board microprocessor.

A number of system upgrades were necessary to enable the building to become an effective venue and allow VMS to manage it efficiently. These included upgrades to the power, water and gas supply, lighting and lighting controls, security system and the sound system.
In addition, a new BMS was installed. Operated by a direct digital control (DDC) system, it allows control of the building’s gas heaters, toilet exhaust fans and window louvres ventilation though a central computer web interface from a PC located in the venue management office.
The functions controlled by the central web interface include remote web-based access, control and time schedule access, and manipulation of set points. The BMS, which was installed by Schneider Electric, also includes a graphics viewing of the venue that shows which systems are operational at any point in time, providing overall control of all the bits and pieces that together provide an efficient multipurpose facility.

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