Engineering professors investigating a new luxury tower that cracked on Christmas Eve in Sydney, causing hundreds to be evacuated, say they found design flaws and construction issues.
Around 300 people were forced to leave the 34-storey Opal Tower apartment building in the Olympic Park on 24 December after residents heard cracking noises and felt the building move.Â
Initial investigations revealed a large crack in a pre-cast concrete panel on the 10th floor of the building, called Opal Tower. Fifty-one apartments, housing around a quarter of the tower’s residents, were deemed unsafe. Further cracking was found on level four.
The building only opened in August 2018.
On Friday, 22 February the state government of New South Wales released the final report from the independent investigation prepared by Professors Mark Hoffman, John Carter and Stephen Foster.Â
They found "a number of structural design and construction issues, including non-compliance with national codes and standards", which they said were responsible for the damage.
"We found some of the as-constructed hob beams and panel assemblies were under designed according to the National Construction Code and Australian Standards, leaving the beams prone to failure. We also found construction and material deficiencies likely contributed to the damage to the hob beams on levels 4 and 10."
Residents who bought luxury apartments will be relived that the professors considered that the building was "overall structurally sound", and that the damage can be "rectified to ensure the building is compliant with the National Construction Code".
However, they called for qualified structural engineers to check the final design and construction proposals in detail before major rectification works begin, and before the building is deemed completely safe for occupancy.Â
They called for better monitoring of structural design and construction of high-rise buildings, the registration of structural engineers, and "independent third-party checks of critical elements of the design during the construction of these types of buildings".
NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, said the government supported the "direction of the report’s recommendations".
"The biggest recommendation in today’s report is about registering engineers – and we’ve already committed to that," he said.
Image: Opal Tower opened to residents in August 2018 (Opaltower.com.au)