Fielders offers bespoke solution for the Art Gallery of New South Wales  

The number of innovative building products available to Australian architects, specifiers and builders these days is impressive, and continues to grow as manufacturers are constantly innovating to develop construction materials that look better, last longer and are easier and more economical to work with.

But what if the ideal product just doesn’t exist?

This was the case for Japanese architectural firm SANAA, who were tasked with designing the recently opened $344M AUD Sydney Gallery of Modern Art project.

It’s a complex development that takes a bespoke construction and design approach which includes green roofs planted with Australian native species, almost 1,500m² of solar panels and of course fully curated exhibition and museum spaces. The new building also features art research and education spaces, multipurpose spaces, a gallery shop, food and beverage facilities and visitor amenities.

The centrepiece structure was designed to complement the Art Gallery’s existing building – a 19-century structure with neoclassical façade – and presents a series of interlocking pavilions that step down towards Sydney Harbour. The buildings sit low and lightly on the land, tracing the natural topography of the land.

A key feature of the project is the use of Fielders KingFlor®, which is used as permanent formwork for concrete slabs on multiple levels of the structure. In most cases the metal decking has been left exposed to form interior ceilings and as soffits on the building’s substantial exterior overhangs.

When Pritzker prize-winning lead architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nichizawa, together with builders Richard Crookes Constructions evaluated the available steel decking options, they were attracted to the KingFlor® range but failed to find a profile that would meet the project’s architectural intent. So, they then approached the Fielders Design Solutions Group (DSG) for counsel.

Introducing the DSG

The purpose of the DSG is to provide additional value to partners including architects, engineers, specifiers, builders and developers, by sharing expert advice and support to these partners throughout all stages of their projects, from early conceptualisation to completion.

The Sydney Gallery of Modern Art development is a prime example of how the DSG can assist. Upon discovering that the client wanted a bespoke, visually driven profile for their development, Fielders’ expert team began working towards a solution. Ultimately a  unique decking product KingFlor® KF100, was created exclusively for this project, which drew on the fundamentals of the existing KF70® product, but with a revised profile that delivered the architects the cleaner, smoother lines they were seeking.

KingFlor® KF100 required a revised manufacturing process, but prior to reaching this stage, prototype products needed to be made and subjected to Fielders stringent testing program, before ultimately being trialed and verified in an independent NATA accredited laboratory.

The DSG also assisted in a trial installation to ensure the client was completely satisfied with the appearance and functionality of KingFlor® KF100. Along with meeting its visual goals, KingFlor® KF100 delivered the functionality and cost saving benefits – that can be found across the entire KingFlor® range – to the project.

The qualities of KingFlor®

Compared to conventional plywood formwork, the range-wide efficiencies of KingFlor® include achieving considerable time, labour and resource savings as there’s less set-up and back propping needed before pouring the slab and then removing the formwork once the concrete has cured.

Additionally, Permanent metal deck formwork like Fielders KingFlor® stays in place after the concrete has set and has superior unpropped spans, reducing the back propping requirements and labour on site.

The wide range of KingFlor® profiles deliver a range of benefits for end users in various building applications. The trapezoidal geometry of KF40®, KF70®, SlimDek 210® (and KF100) enable significant savings in reinforcement as well as concrete volume savings by displacing concrete where it’s not needed, reducing cost while satisfying the most stringent floor performance requirements. The cost efficiency and program advantages achieved by KingFlor® composite decking is unrivalled compared with traditional construction practices.

And if there’s not a decking profile to suit, the DSG may even be able to design one to meet customer requirements.