Dexion Office provided a comprehensive storage solution for the new Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts in Brisbane.
Opened in August 2012, Brisbane’s Supreme and District Courts complex, the largest in the country, features 45 courtrooms and spans 19 glass-paned levels of floor space. According to Director of Capital Works for the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General, Nick Dower, despite the significant advancements in technology, court proceedings still remain a predominantly paper‐based activity.
It’s a legislative requirement in Queensland that all court papers filed on a matter must be held on-site until the case is completed and all appeals processes exhausted. With 20,000 new files being opened each year and many matters taking more than a year to complete, the result is an ever-growing repository of critical documents that need to be sorted, stored, retrieved and preserved.
According to Dower, the security and accessibility of these documents is absolutely critical to the dispensation of justice in the state.
The $570 million Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts represent a new generation of courtroom aesthetics, marked by high ceilings, openness and abundant light.
To complement these new look courtrooms, the Queensland Department of Justice enlisted the help of leading storage and materials handling specialist, Dexion to revolutionise the outdated storage system. Dexion’s solution not only reflected the changing needs of a contemporary courtroom but also addressed the issue of future proofing capacity.
Dexion’s solution involved one of the largest installations of Compactus units in the country with a total of 19 automated Dexion Eclipse Compactus and another seven Dexion Mechanical Assist together forming over 3,000 lineal metres of file storage.
Dexion assisted the architects and the Department of Justice and Attorney General in establishing a storage solution for the projected requirements. All involved were confident that the Eclipse Compactus would deliver a winning solution.
Mounted on anti-tilt tracks, this automated high-density mobile storage system is as easy to use as an elevator. With the simple press of a large green button, the intelligent carriage system parts at the selected aisle. A red button is pressed to halt the system in case of an emergency. Frequently accessed aisles can be configured into the system for easy entry, supporting long running court cases that require frequent file access.
According to Dexion’s national sales manager Michael Cumner, the Dexion Eclipse Compactus was the obvious storage solution for the Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts. Fitted with Dexion Ultima shelving, Eclipse provides the flexibility required. Whilst most of the units store standard sized documents, others need to store oversized evidence such as firearms – a requirement that is met by the system’s ease of adjustment in height, width and number of bays to suit specific locations.
The basement, where most of the Court’s storage is located, features a mix of 12 tandem and triple carriage width Eclipse units. To accommodate items of different sizes, each unit contains between 12 and 84 bays of Ultima shelving, spaced over five or six levels per unit. Being a basement, natural light is limited, so the programmable integrated lights turn themselves on as a particular aisle is opened and a person enters. The light then switches off when they exit and the unit is automatically closed. This resource-efficient lighting system is an important contributor to the Courts’ 5-star sustainability rating.
The Eclipse also features ‘Works in a Drawer’, which discreetly houses the control centre of the system’s technology in the front dress panel allowing easy access for service or programming.
Cumner explained that the safety features of the Eclipse were also vitally important to the Department.
The Eclipse offers significant OH&S benefits to court staff with features such as the ‘Aisle Entry Sensors’ that provide a closed-loop safety system of light immune photo sweep sensors at waist height on the entry into each aisle, as well as a secondary safety system, ‘Zero Force Sensor’ that projects multiple light immune infrared beams across an open aisle to detect any human movement in closing aisles, automatically locking down the Compactus until the aisle is cleared.
Installed in mobile shelving installations that span thousands of metres of floor space, these sensors ensure the safety of all staff utilising the system.
Dexion storage systems have been installed throughout the 19-storey high building with an additional three Dexion Eclipse Compactus units installed on the ground, first and second floors.
Levels 10 and 11 are home to the court files, the Supreme Court Library, seven Eclipse units, and five Mechanical Assist units. The installation of the Eclipse units in these levels posed challenges for Dexion and the project’s managing contractor, Lend Lease.
For instance, the high vaulted ceilings and soaring glass panes of the building’s signature design meant that each floor was essentially built ‘upside-down’, with facilities such as air-conditioning running through the floor rather than the ceiling.
The building’s cabling and hosing requirements mean many floors are ‘access floors’ with an 800mm cavity between the visible timber floor above and the concrete structural floor below. A single Dexion Eclipse unit has a carrying capacity of 1,500kg per lineal metre and the Compactus anti-tilt tracks must stand at the full height of the access floor cavity to bear the weight. Mapping out grids to ensure that the Compactus rails didn’t compromise other functions of the building meant close communication and co-ordination between Dexion and other contractors on site.
According to Dexion’s Project Manager, Glen Rider the team encountered some inherent challenges as a result of the sheer scale of the project. With careful planning and effective communication, Dexion worked collaboratively with the Lend Lease team, completing the project on schedule and on budget.