Coburg's old Pentridge Prison is being transformed into an urban piazza precinct, a commercial and residential hub with people now eager to get in rather than out. Combining new apartment-living and design with the prison's original old world 'charm' was the challenge for the project's developers and Hybeam by futurebuild fit the profile perfectly.

The developers, Pentridge Piazza, envisage a mix of history and urban living and have retained the story of the place while developing a new urban village that appeals to both home buyers and tourists, converting the original buildings into apartments, shops and an educational facility over several stages.

So far the project is on schedule. The 74 apartments, part of the project’s ?rst stage, are near completion and selling fast. Other plans for the development include a 15 storey Sentinel building, with 125 apartments on the former hospital site, and education facility of 1500sq m on the old ‘B’ annexe building.

When Joe Caldarella, of Bowens Timber Commercial Division, heard about Pentridge Piazza's ambitious project he was keen to be a part of it. “Jobs like this don’t come along very often – it's a very high pro?le site,” he says. With a good supply network, in this case Dindas Lew Australia and futurebuild, Caldarella knew he could deliver. He wanted to ?nd the most innovative product solution for the job.

After meeting with David Peda, project administrator of Pentridge Piazza, Caldarella put together quotations for the floor joist systems for the 74 apartments. Dindas Lew produced comprehensive layouts and design certi?cates and priced quantities based on the plans. The Hybeam option represented cost savings of around 20 percent when compared with other alternatives. The ?rst stage apartments have all been ?tted out with Hybeam Engineered I-Joists and represent half of the project’s two storey homes. There are also several spaces which have been sold as shells for the owners to ?t-out as they wish. In fact, Hybeam represents most of the I-Joists in stage one.

Some of the existing bluestone walls are three feet thick and combining old and new structures relied on Hybeam members used at different levels. The entire 74 apartments' joist systems allow for dropped-level floors in wet areas. The dual height was achieved using the Hybeam HJ246 in the dry areas in combination with the HJ200 in the wet areas.

The Hybeam lies within the steel superstructure and could be ?xed to the steel in a number of ways. Carpenters were provided with details of ?xing and blocking methods to ensure they were con?dent in using the Hybeam. Site calls were also scheduled to offer training to contractors such as plumbers and electricians for the hole cutting for services. futurebuild provided the technical support in these areas, including a pocket guide to calculate spans and permissible hole locations.

Source: Building Products News.