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Somerville House – Seymour Library Refurbishment

Completion year 2018

Key People

Alex Saunders

Civil Project Engineer, Principal

Justin Turner

Structural Project Engineer

Nigel Cooper

Mechanical and Vertical Transportation Engineering Section Manager, Project Engineer

Michael Lanchester

Acoustics Section Manager

Michael Bourke

Electrical Project Engineer, Associate

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The project consists of the refurbishment of Level 5 of the existing Somerville House Library and the extension of the building through the addition of two mezzanine levels, increasing the library’s space by 537m2.

In conjunction with Thomson Adsett Architects and Blade Project Services, the library upgrade has provided an innovative and vibrant learning hub for the school. This new space supports Somerville’s vision of 21st century learning with flexible learning areas, dedicated study spaces, meeting rooms and an Academic Research Centre that will provide the opportunity for increased student exhibitions and collaboration.

WGE carried out acoustics, civil, electrical, hydraulics, mechanical and structural services for the refurbishment, as well as a review of the existing services on site and identification of those that could be re-used to suit the upgrade.

The team was commissioned to create a feature lighting design – custom shape suspended linear extrusion light fittings, which were used to enhance collaborative and learning spaces.

Vertically and horizontally recessed linear extrusion fittings were also used to highlight timber finishes, highlighted by suspended glass pendants chosen to warm learning environments.

There were a number of challenges within the project, including the construction of two additional floors inside the existing auditorium building which had been repurposed as the main senior library for the school and the inclusion of a new roof top plant deck to house all the services required for the new space.

The library refurbishment works extended across three existing buildings constructed in 1959, 1973 and 1980.  The design procedure was unique in which the existing structure was reviewed using imperial units whilst the design of the new elements was undertaken using metric units.

The school did not have a complete set of existing documentation on file, which meant extensive onsite investigations in the form of visual site inspections, site survey, x-ray scans and demolition of elements were conducted to confirm slab thickness, encased steel column sizes and, reinforcement size and spacing.

WGE design engineers were required to design the two new floor systems as light as possible to ensure the existing columns and footings could still safely support the additional loading.  The floor was framed using structural steel beams and timber floor joists to reduce the additional weight.

Consideration also had to be taken in the low ceiling heights, resulting in close co-ordination with the Architect to achieve aesthetic below ceiling services, in particular mechanical duct runs.

A temporary floor was laid over the existing floor level of the library to ensure the lower levels could remain in operation during construction (i.e. no additional propping).  By working closely with Project Manager, Architect and the Managing Contractor, a comprehensive design was developed and the works were completed before the first school bell rang.