July 28, 2017

Decking out the Opera House for 50 years service

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous and well-recognised landmarks in Australia. In 2016, the Vehicle Access and Pedestrian Safety (VAPS) project was completed successfully separating 1,000 heavy-vehicle movements a week from the forecourt through  new tunnel and underground loading dock, and improving safety of pedestrians. Part of the works involved re-surfacing areas of the underground structure, with Hychem products chosen to seal multiple areas.

The $152 million VAPS project, which began in 2011, was at the time the largest single capital works program undertaken at the Opera House since it opened in 1973. The tunnel and loading dock were dug out of sandstone, directly underneath the Opera House, providing heavy vehicle access to the building.

Profloor Epoxy Systems was contracted to re-surface approximately 2400m2 of floor across three underground levels.

Aleks Todorovic, Managing Director at Profloor Epoxy Systems, said the Opera House was looking for a long-term flooring solution.

“The Opera House wanted to make the loading dock a safe, anti-slip environment, whilst ensuring the floor remained flat and level. It also had to be durable enough to handle the day-to- day delivery of show sets, sensitive and expensive instruments, stage props, and anything else that was being delivered,” Aleks said.

Hychem products were chosen for the project due to their durability and longevity. 

Chris Bauer, Head of Flooring at Hychem, said, “The Sydney Opera House has a 50 year plan, that is, a plan of not having to touch anything for 50 years. So they needed something that was extremely durable and long lasting, but also aesthetically pleasing because it’s such a globally recognised building. They wanted to make sure everything was 100 per cent perfect and we had the system to deliver that.”

A multifaceted project

Along with installing epoxy resin to the majority of areas in the underground loading dock, Profloor Epoxy Systems also used Hychem products to install sewer pit linings in confined spaces.

“We used Hychem SF12 to line the sewer pits as it has exceptional chemical resistance to acids, alkalies, oils, fats and solvents, making it ideal for such environments. It was also ideal for the areas we were working in. It has low solvent and odour content, allowing it to be used safely in relatively confined spaces,” Aleks said.

To install the flooring, diamond grinding was used to prepare the existing concrete substrate and a double primer coat was applied.

“For the flooring areas we used a combination of Hychem E300SL and Hychem SF12FG, and finished sealing the floor with Hychem 100W.

“E300SL was trowel applied to a 4-5mm thickness, as a base layer to level the concrete surface, and remove any little pits, divots and other imperfections to make it smooth.

“As the area was expecting lots of foot and vehicular traffic it also needed to be durable and slip-resistant to ensure safety and prevent damage to the coating. Hychem SF12FG met these requirements as is has a high solids content for durability, is wear resistant in harsh and punishing environments, chemically resistant to oils and solvents, and has a built-in fine grit anti-slip additive that provides a non-slip surface.

“The Opera House also wanted the finished colour to be a light grey. Hychem SF12FG can be adapted to a wide variety of colours so we were able to provide them with the colour they wanted. To achieve the final surface we applied two coats.

“We finished the installation with Hychem 100W, which has low VOC ratings, allowing it to be used in areas where other solvent based sealers are prohibited due to odour, health and flammability issues. It also meets the standard of the Green Building Council of Australia.”

Profloor Epoxy Systems also installed integral covings to all perimeter walls at 150mm height using Hychem GP, and used adapted Hychem products to provide various anti-slip grades in different areas to comply with current Australian Standards.

Overcoming challenges

With a project this large, it was not without it’s challenges.

“There were a lot of fire egress stairs and walkways which required casting in Australian Standard compliant stair treads into concrete formed recesses provided by the builder. To achieve this we used Hychem GP epoxy mortar,” Aleks said.

“We also had to work around the clock in some key access areas so that the epoxy was cured and ready to return to service for site personnel the next morning.

“We successfully completed the project within the builder’s deadlines, and provided the Opera House with a long-term flooring solution that exceeded their requirements for aesthetics, hygiene, safety and durability.”

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