Thirkell Consulting Engineers provides professional structural and civil engineering consultancy services. Based in Cairns, Australia, we can service the tropical region of Queensland, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific. We service projects with construction values up to $20M and work in partnerships where our skills add value to larger projects.
Our services include concept and detailed design, documentation, feasibility studies, compliance inspections, certification, construction supervision, project management, contract administration, planning and development applications, insurance reporting, expert witness and legal reporting. In addition, we also hold QBSA design licences and provide an architectural design service to deliver ‘whole of building’ solutions where required.
We are a dedicated team that delivers design and engineering solutions for residential buildings, shopping centres, public buildings, offices and multi-use medium and high rise buildings, retail, restuarant and tourism facilites, recreational and leisure facilities, industrial buildings, soil and water retaining structures, mining infrastructure, regional marine and aviation infrastructure and small land subdivisions.
Main clients are private developers, builders, other design and engineering firms and local Councils. Clients with difficult land sites, complicated structures, refurbishment that requires detailed engineeringknowledge or using new technology will benefit from our depth of experience.
George Thirkell has developed a professional career in the construction industry for over 20 years mostly based in tropical North Queensland. George has engineered some of Cairn’s major buildings including the Cairns Convention Centre and Skyrail. Six years was also based in London on projects spanning across the UK. Professional development in the UK was underpinned by the expansion of UK and European Union law on sustainable built environments. During this time George worked on the Swiss-Re (Gherkin) iconic Norman Foster designed office building in the City of London delivering cutting edge ‘green’ building features.
Upon returning home to Cairns, there was opportunity to develop sustainable building projects with an integrated design and engineering service. At this time it was also identified that some important building regulation was counterproductive to sustainability in tropical Australia, some new green building technology uptake was lagging behind and tropical expertise was not well recognised. Greenbuild.com.au was developed along with the founding by George and Emma of the Tropical Green Building Network to further support the work being done by Beachcomber Building Solutions, Thirkell Consulting Engineers and industry colleagues in the area of built environment sustainability.
GreenBuild.com.au promotes sustainable building products and construction services in tropical Australia making information and contacts 'easy to find'. We also support to our industry champions at the forefront of tropical expertise, new technology and services. We are founders of the Tropical Green Building Network and members advertise their businesses on Greenbuild.com.au. The network supports and promotes events and activities that relates to sustainable building in the tropics.
RecycleBuild.com.au is an online building materials exchange that promotes new, used and unused building materials throughout Australia. It is FREE for the public to use and has an average of 17,000 visitors a month. The aim is to reduce building materials going to landfill by finding new homes or re-purposing. We operate the website charitably as a 'not-for-profit'.
Since 1993, George Thirkell has had Australian and international design and engineering experience in a wide range of projects.
George previously worked with Colefax Clayton Smith of Cairns, now known as Cardno CCS. Contract work in the UK from 1999 was performed with WSP, Carter Clack, Alan Connisbee & Associates and other London based engineering practices. Since 2005, George has directed his owned company based in Cairns, Australia.
In Australia key projects for George has included:
UK based projects include:
Recently George has completed further studies in architectural building design and holds a QBSA Building Design licence (medium rise). As a professional engineer and building designer, George can value add to design through the economical employment of materials and design processes. The whole design and engineering process can be carried out ‘in house’ and can extend to project management of construction and final certification.
George grew up in Cairns and is now raising his own family here. He appreciates the cultural heritage that makes up our region. He is involved in community and industry organisations including the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, PNG Tradelinked and the Tropical Green Building Network
Emma Thirkell (nee Cummings): Administration
Bachelor of Business (property development, valuation and land economics),
University of Queensland, graduated 1999
Charted Surveyor Royal Institution Chartered Surveyors MRICS 1114355
Founder and major sponsor of the Tropical Green Building Network and operator of GreenBuild.com.au
Emma has over 20 years of experience in the property industry and has skills in property valuation, development, agency and management in all sectors. Competencies have been gained in the development, planning, financial, legal, economic and building aspects invaluably adding to very practical real estate experience. Consultancy, valuation and agency work has included shopping centres, factory outlets, retail shops, restaurants and hotels; commercial office buildings; industrial units and estates, motels, tourist resorts, tourist accommodation, residential homes and units in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Emma is a co-director of Thirkell Consulting Engineers and assists in administrating client’s contracts. She also carries out business administration duties including, accounting and marketing. Emma also compiles and administrates development applications and building approval documentation. She has excellent report writing skills and compiles reports and correspondence for insurance claims and legal expert witness purposes.
Emma is developing industry capability to deliver sustainable building outcomes and works with economic development agencies, government and industry stakeholders to develop affordable housing and buildings that are appropriate for our tropical climate.
The client is a licensed builder and presented floor plans and front elevations as part of our brief. The plans were substantially developed, particularly through the double skillion roof and blending the structural elements into the design to optimise space. The client required us to develop the documentation for Building Approval although to save costs, we did not provide an electrical plan or drawing and documentation for fixtures, finishes and fittings. The client was a HIA Greensmart professional and we shared our knowledge of products suitable for a sustainable house with them through GreenBuild.com.au.
The house was presented as part of Sustainable House Day 2009 because of the emphasis that the design has on cross ventilation, the light weight structure, insulation, lighting and choice of finishing materials in a modern context. The house was also entered into the HIA Greensmart awards in 2009 although did not win the category.
The ‘Kula House’ was designed to take young families into the future. The house is affordable, practical, and comfortable and complies with many ‘green’ principles.
The challenges presented by the narrow land lot has shaped design solutions that have ultimately made this house design very suitable for many land lots in new housing estates in the tropics. The ‘Kula House’ typifies the traditional ‘long house’ design, common to the cultures of the Pacific islands and South East Asia.
This contemporary low set home design follows a ‘Beachcomber’ philosophy that the structural lines should be simple with the main emphasis on the roof. Get this right and everything else falls into place. The roof’s principle job is to protect the occupants from the tropical rain and heat whilst promoting natural light into the internals and visual appeal from the street front. The long house has a 1:2.5 width to length ratio and works with a contemporary steel frame skillion roof system. The main double skillion has an average height of 5.5 metres with a 20 metre spine. Clerestory windows run for three quarters of this central span. The double system skillions to the front and rear with the carport skillion roof flying over at complementary angles mixes practical function and style well, delivering on sustainable ‘green’ living outcomes.
The work that the 900mm roof eaves perform is critical to comfortable tropical living by keeping the tropical sun off the walls. The decks to the western side of the house play a critical role. The roof to the deck also has a large eave to protect it from the sun and rain. The house is raised off the ground above sand fly level, allowing air to circulate under the floor and reducing the risk of flood or surge high water damage. The open carport allows prevailing dry season south easterlies access to the house.
The ‘Kula House’ achieves desirable natural light and breeze for every internal space and no air-conditioning has been installed. Traditional ‘Queenslanders’ in the tropics can be quite dark in the middle of the house, particularly during the weeks of very high rain fall when we are in the hottest part of the year. These parts of the house can also be mould traps due to poor air circulation in times of high humidity. The ‘Kula House’ has a central split in the main double skillion and along this spine the high clerestory louvred windows deliver light and cooling breezes. Every room in the house has an external wall with large full height louvre galleries. The cooling breezes push hot air up into the high raked ceilings to the clerestory windows promoting passive cooling. Sea breezes and monsoon north easterly breezes can also be captured through the 7 metre opening onto the rear deck. There is covered access from the carport to the house to help take children and shopping from car to house during weeks of monsoon rain.
Sustainable building principles include smart design producing smaller houses that deliver standard features. The 180 square metre internal floor plan delivers four double size bedrooms, a full size ensuite and walk in wardrobe for the master bedroom, a large main bathroom, a laundry and storage room, dedicated kids play area and a study. The high raked ceilings bring about bigger room volumes and an increased sense of space. The central hall way is strikingly wide and complimented by the high raking ceilings and angles. The children’s play area is central to two of the bedrooms and also acts as an open breezeway. The open galley shaped study is tucked behind the kitchen keeping more powerful electro magnetic fields away from sleeping areas. The laundry opens to a large covered drying deck on the western side of the house. The open plan kitchen, dining and living area is only 50 square metres in size although in true appreciation of tropical design, the adjoining 50 square metres of deck will be the main living area for most of the year.
The building materials selected add to the sustainable features. The roof is a light colorbond steel with 8 mm E-Therm reflective thermal insulation blanket under the roof sheeting in a 260 mm cavity with a raked ceiling achieving a R3+ rating. The external walls are light weight CFC sheeting and board and cool quickly. The yellow stringy bark timber floorboards throughout are coated with a low VOC water based product. All paint used is from the low VOC Wattyl ID range. Compact Florescent (CFL’s) or LED lights are used in 100% of the house, including the outdoor floodlights. Ceiling fans with 1200mm blades are plentiful and strategically located. All water fittings have water saving flow restrictors. A Conergy solar hot water system is installed. Plans are in place to also install Photo Voltaic Panels, water tanks and a grey water system as time permits. Most importantly, the design of this house reduces the demand for electricity, in particular, air-conditioners throughout the long summer months.
The house is named after ‘Kula’ shells that are valuable in the PNG Trobriand Islands. The Trobrianders believe that mere argument is unlikely to change someone's mind and the art of persuasion through indirect and subtle means like the physical allure of gifts such as valuable ‘Kula’ shells are a vital part of negotiation. The ‘Kula’ barter system is an inherent part of this culture.
This house is designed and built to appeal to future generations, ensuring it remains valuable and relevant. Design principles based around traditional Pacific island ‘long houses’ will last the test of time in the tropics.
The owner builders had initial design ideas and Beachcomber Building Solutions PL produced final designs, engineering and drafting. The design required Cairns City Council planning approval as it exceeded the height allowable for a residential house and this was secured by Beachcomber Building Solutions.
The land has panoramic views over the city and Cairns Inlet to the north. The area situated closest to the street front is flat and approximately 400 m². The northern area of land falls for 9m over the next approximately 16.5m and continues to slope steeply to the rear boundary of the lot. The front boundary of the lot faces south with some interrupted views. The western boundary of the lot is overshadowed by the adjoining property which is two storeys from a higher ground level than the subject land.
As the block is long and proportionately narrow, the house frontage is 13m at its widest point and approximately 39m in length. 19 metres of the house length spans over the slope equating to 62% of the house footprint. The height of the home from the ground on the northern elevation is 15.5m. This engineered solution makes previously un-usable land, usable.
The main living areas of the home are located in the single storey structure constructed over the steep slope. This overcomes the inherent constraints of the height and shadow from the western boundary house and allows the flat land to be used for outdoor lawn area, swimming pool, entrance area and car accommodation.
The home has a garage attached to a two storey structure positioned over the flat area of land. A single storey structure is positioned over the steep slope section of the land.
There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office situated on the 1st floor and the ground floor has a second office, rumpus room and third bedroom. The ground floor continues along this level through to the single storey structure that is positioned over the steep slope. This area accommodates the fourth and fifth bedroom, two bathrooms, a home theatre room, and kitchen, dining and lounge areas. This part of the home opens out onto extensive verandahs.
A large floor plan at the ground level accommodates the needs of people who are disabled, aged and children by eliminating the need to use stairs.
The ground floor structure on the flat land area is constructed of rendered masonry block and the balance of the home is steel frame with timber and fibre cement cladding. There are two main roof systems and two minor roofing systems that are curved metal sheeting.
Energy efficiency provisions well exceed those that are deemed to satisfy the Building Code of Australia performance requirements.
There are extensive outdoor living areas and openings to the home maximizing the prevailing breezes. The house and landscaping design represents great sensitivity towards the visual amenity for neighbours. The outstanding natural feature of the land is its panoramic views over Cairns and the inlet to the north and the prevailing summer breezes from the north to enhance a natural cooling system during summer. Careful design has taken full advantage of the northerly aspect of the home. The entrance area and southern elevation is also angled to receive any south easterly prevailing breezes. The orientation of the house and use of the natural features of the land minimizes the impact of the sun on the walls of the house. Large eaves and roofed deck areas shade walls.
The land is set on a hillside amongst forest with views to the ocean. The clients brief was to create a pavilion style home for a family of four. One pavillion is devoted to the main bedroom, the other to two bedrooms and the third to a kitchen dining and lounge area. All three pavillions are set around a large open deck. The steeping slope suits light weight post and beam construction and steel framing is a preference. The client also wanted large glass windows and doors to the elevations facing the deck and the panoramic views.
Beachcomber Building Solutions provided design, drafting and structural engineering services. The owner was involved in the concept design phase, fittings, fixtures and finishes selections and onsite project management.
The clients had experienced the extremely destructive Cyclone Larry event and the follow-up recovery. Although they had a restricted budget, the house was to exceed minimum building code requirements for cyclonic wind speeds in this location. Although the design well exceeds the required wind loads for this location, a purpose built bunker was included.
The clients brief also included features that would allow the house to be self-sufficient for energy and water. The design features high grade insulation of the building envelope that repels heat suitable for a humid tropical climate and the 3 pavilions also have large openings and natural cross flow ventilation. It requires minimal air-conditioning. Energy efficient lighting, fittings and appliances are also a feature and the total energy requirements for the home are able to be supplied by an affordable array of photovoltaic panels. The Tully to Mission Beach area has one of the highest rainfalls in Australia during the wet season although water supplies can be restricted during the dry season or during natural disasters such as cyclones. A large water tank is designed to sit beneath one of the pavillions.
The home was built not long after Cyclone Larry and building costs were at an all-time high with labour shortages. The client selected the builder, managed the projects construction phase and a dispute arose with the builder. The builder had replaced materials without permission, digressed from the design and its intent to exceed minimum building code requirements for cyclonic wind speeds and displayed poor workmanship. During this period we were able to provide design and engineering inspection and reporting services for the client’s legal consultants and the client was able to bring the contract to an end, withhold payment and claim rectification costs.
The Rolt residence at Fogarty Street Whitfield is a unique modern Queenslander. It utilizes the design principles of a Queenslander, yet uses materials that both keep maintenance to a minimum and adds character to the building.
Primarily of Steel construction, the house features a clestory roof with windows, large open plan design, extensive use of louvres for cross ventilation and other innovative features to reduce maintenance and make it more user friendly.
Clad in materials like zincalume, scyon linea weatherboard and panels of rusty steel, complete with an orange glass front door, this is a house that was designed to be noticed.
The owners embraced the principles of building an environmentally sustainable house, because for them it was a practical and logical solution. Beachcomber Building Design was able to bring together the owners 20 years of idea’s gathering with their own expertise to create a home that met all of the criteria and fully utilised the strengths of their block of land.
The home was presented in Sustainable House Day 2013 presenting the following features:
This new executive style home is 800 sqm on a gently sloping 4700 sqm battleaxe lot. It was designed and engineered by Beachcomber Building Designs and Thirkell Consulting Engineers for experienced and licensed owner builders.
The sites elevation presents stunning views of the Barron river valley. The open and outdoor living areas and master bedrooms are designed to feature the views, framing the stunning backdrop and resonating it back into the house. The ambience the backdrop creates is stunning, and the drama is unfoldsas one enters through the homes front door. The main entrance hallway is wide and has a high vaulted ceiling creating an expectation that you are moving into an extraordinary space. This design feature has become a signature style element for Beachcomber Building Designs. The owner builders have included high end finishes to create the epitome of modern elegance.
Staying true to tropical sustainable design innovation, the home is a hybrid of building styles and materials that seamlessly work together. The design focuses on ease of buildability and risk free costing. It focuses on yielding out the ‘must-haves’ for a home in the $1.5M value range.
There are 5 spacious bedrooms, including a parent retreat and 3 stunning bathrooms and outside powder room. Numerous living spaces include an enormous open plan living and dining area, home theatre, spacious home office, and kids study nook. The expansive outdoor living area has a fully equipped kitchen. The resort style lap pool spans 17meters with heated spa. The home has a completely self-contained guest/caretaker's quarters. There is a C-BUS command system controlling the home by remote and a secure gated entry with video and intercom. The 21kw Solar system, delivers a generous quarterly income. The 6-car remote lock up garaging with extended depth and height accommodates all types of vehicles and was an essential design criteria.
Bana Yirriji is situated on the Bloomfield River at Wujal Wujal in Far North Queensland. The place has great natural beauty.
The spatial design of the building has been carried out in conjunction with the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council representatives. The proposed design supports the art and cultural needs of the community, the funding allowance constraints, remote location, life cycle cost, maintenance and cyclonic wind speeds. The impact on the environment has been assessed in consideration of the health and well being of the building users and the surrounding environment. The ‘green’ design features deliver a sustainable building for this tropical and remote environment.
The building contractor endeavored to monitor the products brought to site to ensure that they comply with sustainable building practices although the building was not a Green Building Council of Australia star rated building as a category for this building type was not yet developed in 2008/09.
The Highlander was originally a small local tavern offering pub food and a bottle shop. The new owners commissioned our design and engineering services to renovate, alter and add to the original structure.
Our services for the project included design and structural engineering, technical drafting and preliminary planning approvals. The owner was involved in the concept design phase, fittings, fixtures and finishes selections and onsite project management.
The inside bar and fireplace was renovated, commercial kitchen completely upgraded and a new outdoor bar was added to service a very large new deck. The restaurant now has 90 covers (seats) with outdoor dining looking out to a picturesque mountain backdrop, gardens and a damn. The outdoor bar and deck was especially designed to cater for large functions.
A development approval from the Tablelands Regional Council was achieved although the large size of the new functions deck triggered some complications. The complications required a ‘material change of use’ development application that was carried out by a specialist planning consultant. There was additional need to provide onsite water storage for fire hazards and large storage tanks are located under the deck. Also the carpark area was re-configured to allow for buses and 50 car parks and required sealing over time.
The existing home was extended for the purpose of adding a master bedroom area and office. An additional and detached pavilion building with a garage/workshop was also designed with an entertainment room above, opening out to a swimming pool.
Our services for the project included design, structural and civil engineering, technical drafting and planning approvals. We were able to carry out this entire project ‘in-house’.
The land is situated on a hillside that overlooks the Coral Sea to the east with extensive views to the east and south. The land is an irregular shape. A flat area is situated around the existing home although generally slopes from the west to the east. An existing bank is situated to the rear of the home and a retaining wall is situated to the front of the home.
A development approval was granted. The Rural Planning Area Code and Natural Areas and Scenic Amenity Code required that the bulk and scale of a house is not visually obtrusive and does not compromise the visual amenity of the site and surrounding area.
The proposed main bedroom and office extension and addition of the entertainment room increased the gross floor area of the house although the design was viewed by council as an acceptable solution.
The existing home site had old fruit trees planted on the hillside area to the south west of the house. The existing position of the house and proposed siting of the pavilion building benefits from panoramic views and prevailing breezes.
The proposed design incorporated earthworks and the new pavilion building level allowed the roof line of the new building to be positioned at a similar level to the existing house. The garage underneath the entertainment room is at a level below the existing home. The lower level of the pavilion building will not be visible from the main road.
The design solution incorporates the garage and entertainment room within the same building structure. The entertainment room opens out onto an open deck and swimming pool. Positioning the entertainment room above the garage minimises site coverage. This alleviates the need for the construction of another separate building on the land for garage and workshop uses that may otherwise further disturb the visual amenity of the hillside.
The height of the old front retaining wall was greater than 2 metres and cracking. The earthworks decreased the overall height of the wall, brought about a lower grassed batter and a new road was formed to access the new shed.
The proposed extension and pavilion addition includes design features that enhance cross through ventilation and employ insulation materials. The pavilion incorporates outdoor living areas essential to healthy tropical living.
Beachcomber Building Solutions provided design, drafting, structural engineering, Council development application, documentation and administration for this project. The owner was involved in the concept design phase, fittings, fixtures and finishes selections and onsite project management.
The carport has been shifted from the side of the house to the front of the house making way for the new wing that has been added to the home for a master bedroom with walk in wardrobe, ensuite bathroom and entertainment room.
The front door to the home has been repositioned and has a new walkway leading up to it that is covered with a floating roof. The journey to the front door makes an upfront statement about the style of the house.
The new extension is clad in weatherboard, in keeping with the ‘Queenslander’ style and the timber has been lacquered to match the earthy tones of the red brick. Adopting the different cladding to the extension ensures that the long walkway doesn’t feel like an alleyway and makes it interesting. Roof sheeting to the existing home has been painted to match the roof sheeting chosen for the new extension. The pitch of the new roof over this extension matches the existing roof line.
The finishing detail to match the old and the new includes the mushroom coloured rendered band to the base of the external walls. Also the windows in the extension have been custom made to match the existing windows, been positioned to have matching sill heights and painted white.
The area to the front of the new extension and the front fence and boundary of the property has been landscaped to provide a private outdoor garden courtyard for the main bedroom. The large French doors opening out onto the courtyard that also faces north to catch the northerly prevailing wet season breezes. There is a walk in wardrobe between the bedroom and the ensuite bathroom. The very large ensuite bathroom is pure luxury with the floor to ceiling marble creating an outstanding feature. The bathroom is light and open and easy to maintain.
The old wing of the house comprises of the second, third and fourth bedrooms and main bathroom. The renovations have included providing and outdoor courtyard accessed from the main and fourth bedrooms.
The new open plan living area extends itself into the new entertainment room that is part of the new extension. The ceilings have been shaped to increase heights. The ceiling shapes have also been used to define areas i.e the low ceiling shape over the dining area and in the media room.
The lounge area opening to the rear verandah has been widened and the areas integrate well. The white colour with natural timbers creates a cool resort like feel complimented by the new hard landscaping around the swimming pool.
The client brief was to design a two bedroom unit to the ground floor of the existing house in keeping with the ‘Queenslander’ character. The existing house was raised and a two bedroom unit added on the ground floor along with a carport area situated to the front of the home.
The design and materials used complement the character values of the precinct. The house raise brings about a difference in the heights between ground and first floor. This is due to the need to design a large ceiling to floor cavity between the lower and upper levels for services, noise insulation and fire rating material.
The proposed design addressed the imbalance of heights by providing a 700mm wide band to the top of the external wall of the ground floor unit. The band is painted fiber cement (FC) panels with cover strips to match the gables over the roof. The band is painted a colour that compliments the upper and lower levels. The external walls to the ground floor are steel framed with timber studs and fiber cement rendered sheets. The lightweight construction is a cost effective solution that is easily insulated as opposed to concrete block that would hold the heat of the afternoon sun. Also, the positioning of the carport to the front of the building provides further opportunity of keeping the sun off this elevation. Eaves are also provided to the lower level above openings.
The design of carport compliments the form, bulk, height, scale, siting, orientation, roof profiles and materials of main building and other Queenslanders within the character precinct. The carport is an open structure with a hip roof and front gable similar in design and material use to the gables that exist on the house.
The construction costs were constrained to a budget, and the upper and lower floors would be separately tenanted. Each tenant was to have garden area with exclusive use and the additions were to include a double carport. The upstairs unit has exclusive use of the open space rear yard area. The ground floor unit has exclusive use to the open space areas to the sides of the building and an enclosed front courtyard area.
There was an existing tenant on the top floor and the construction time was programmed to a period when they were away on holiday.
We assisted the client to contract the house lifter by reviewing the quotes. The process to secure a builder to suit the budget was also difficult as building costs in Cairns had climbed to new highs post Cyclone Larry along with economically buoyant times in Cairns pre the GFC. To ensure that the construction costs did not over-capitalize on the property, we assisted the client to secure a builder and many interviews took place. The client at our recommendation chose a very reliable and experienced builder and contracted them on an hourly rate. They actively involved themselves in sourcing and procuring the fixtures, fittings and finishes. The construction was completed on time and on budget.
A Development Approval for a Material Change of Use from a Single Residential Dwelling to Dual Occupancy was compiled and submitted by us. The property was in a Character Precinct and the submission included a report addressing the Cairns Plan Cultural Heritage Significance Code. A siting dispensation was also required for the positioning of the carport within the 6 meter setback.
To secure Building Approval, strengthening works was also required to the roof and during that process reflective thermal insulation was provided under the roof sheeting.
The client was experienced at property development and supplied us with a scheme design. The property was located in an upmarket canal estate on the Cairns Northern Beaches. The development was to be built in two stages. The first stage comprised of a three storey building with 8 units each with three bedrooms. The site catered for boat parking and other high quality specifications including landscaping. The luxury units included three penthouses on the top floor with large roof decks looking out to the Coral Sea.
Our primary work was to draw the scheme on AutoCAD and alter where necessary to ensure compliance with Building Codes and Australian Standards. Our services included design, technical drafting, civil and structural engineering. The owners were involved in the concept design phase, fittings, fixtures and finishes selections and project management.
The scheme had already received development approval although a full set of working drawings for construction was required for costing and bank finance conditions. Construction drawings and specification documentation was completed and costed to budget although the GFC precluded the projects commencement.
The 2006 Cyclone Larry and 2011 Cyclone Yasi recovery work included over 250 building inspections and reports followed by a full range of structural engineering and design documentation work for all major insurance companies, local authorities, private companies and individuals.
The Cyclone Larry work included over 50 public buildings for the then Johnstone Shire Council via a sub-contract with Andrew Maddocks & Associates, a local engineer. These included Innisfail ‘Art Deco’ buildings that are iconic to the streetscape. Many of the buildings were work depots and sheds all vital to the efficient functioning of public services to the region. Cyclone Yasi recovery was carried out mostly through the Tully and Mission Beach region.
Our team carried out immediate structural inspections during trying times of high humid heat and extended wet weather periods. Buildings were in various states of disrepair and revealed hazards requiring a high level of awareness, experience and work place health and safety practises.
Our team processed a high volume of reports and documents with technical accuracy enabling a scope of works for insurance claim estimations. In many instances documentation also required dimensional surveys, design, engineering and drafting work for repairs. We were able to apply all of these skills ‘in house’ for each building ensuring a continuing steady stream of documentation that our administration was accountable for..
There were a number of buildings that required inspections and documentation for poor and inadequate repair. Insurance claim administration and processes had failed for some building owners. These owners and buildings required special attention and we assisted the owners to bring these repairs to account in difficult circumstances over a longer period of time.
Our experience ensures we deliver information in line with insurance processing needs efficiently and cost effectively.
Alan Maruff House was built after WW2 for the Electricity Board to display modern electrical appliances. The new building front and façade was re-built after Cyclone Larry destroyed it in 2006. The design and building work replicated the original Art Deco façade.
The design, engineering, drawing documentation and specification work was carried out by George Thirkell as a sub consultant to Maddocks and Associates PL on behalf of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council.
The damage included the east entrance wall where a concrete ledge was pulled out of the concrete beam that was supporting a solid brick sleeper wall and ceiling/ roof structure. There was soffit ceiling damage. Reinforcement to the concrete beam had failed and was exposed to elements. The roof structure was removed and members found at the site had failed. All electrical wiring had failed. The canopy steel beams had pulled from support and sheared. The solid brick pier supporting concrete beam had cracked throughout. There was extensive cracking on the side parapet solid brick wall and the roof sheeting, flashings and downpipes to be replaced. The ceiling and insulation was damaged to front / east side of building. The gutters and downpipes had to be replaced. Stress cracks were evident on internal beams and the supporting solid brick sleeper walls. There was extensive cracking of a concrete beam over window, indicating shear failure. There were signs of water penetration to rear/ west area of the building and a ridge or valley capping required replacement. Wall required drying, cleaning and re-painting.
The Canopy was totally re-built and the front/ east external wall was demolished and re-built. The roof structure above the entrance was re-built and brickwork repaired.
Alan Maruff House now houses the town library.
George Thirkell carried out the engineering design for the foundations of a 5,100 m² Effet Evaporator Vessel that was 1200 tonnes in weight. The work was carried out in 2006. Services included structural and civil engineering, technical drafting and documentation.
Reece Plumbing Centre, Jimboomba (Brisbane), an engineered 425 sqm steel portal frame and tilt up wall construction completed in 2005 for client David Long & Associates. Services included drafting, structural and civil engineering.
George Thirkell was engaged by seven property owners of marinas at Russell Heads. An inspection and reporting service of the pontoons for the purpose certification and licencing was carried out. Detailed design and construction inspection and reporting was carried out in accordance with all appropriate Australian Standards and guidelines as also detailed in the minimum design criteria in the Environment Protection Agency’s operational policy: Building and engineering standards for tidal works.
The rock walls were built over a two year period and have a combined length of over a kilometre and are fifty meters wide at the base. 54,000 tonnes of rock were used in construction of the walls. The rock content alone cost $1 million. The dredge removed 250,000 cubic meters of sand or 25,000 truck loads.
Expenditure has exceeded $8 million. The construction was contracted out by the Club with the assistance of the Club’s Consulting Engineer. The Executive Committee was involved in all aspects of the construction and the day to day decision making process.
The multi-million dollar club house is built out over the Marina with a huge shade sail covered deck and outdoor alfresco dining facilities. Half Moon Bay Marina is of pontoon style construction with Comsen units supplying both power and water to 197 berths ranging in size from 10 metres to 30 metres. Two breakwaters protect the north and north-west sectors of the Marina and are designed to cyclonic standards.
Mundoo Aerodrome is a regional airport located approximately 4.2km south/south west of Innisfail. In January 2013, Cassowary Coast Regional Council commissioned a team led by Cummings Economics to develop three Options for a Master Plan for Mundoo Aerodrome Innisfail. At the same time, Cummings Economics undertook to develop a parallel Commercial Plan to address questions of management, charges and revenue sources for the aerodrome.
Thirkell Consulting Engineers reviewed the infrastructure, carried out civil engineering and pavement design, investigated development options and provided cost estimates along with Acad drafting services to present the three development options.
A thorough analysis of the two runway layouts comprising of a Code 2 primary sealed runway 1353m x 30m with a reported PCN of 9 and a Code 1 secondary grassed red silt clay unrated runway 1332m or 1344m x 30m was carried out. The primary runway was recently resurfaced with a double-coat reseal to provide a pavement for one-off Hercules C130 operations in a public emergency i.e the aftermath of cyclone Larry in March 2006 requiring heavy aircraft to bring in supplies. The master plan for future runway options were examined, firstly from an OLS perspective to determine the presence and nature of any obstacles, including terrain/trees that penetrate the potential OLS, particularly the approach, takeoff and transitional surfaces. Secondly, the upgrade runway to Code 3 for Bombadier Dash 8-300 aircraft (Code 3C, 50 pax. maximum or part freight/part pax. say 25 seat to accommodate potential FI/FO operations) and potentially Dash 8-Q400 (subject to pavement strengthening to PCN 16 standard) to operate. The Apron and overall layout of buildings, hangars and other structure was also analysed.
The master planning project also required civil scheme design options for adjunct and ancillary uses arising out of increased commercial capacity and recreational uses and future potential demand for hangar houses associated with the recreational uses.
Services included inspection, research and liaison with consulting experts including Cummings Eoncomics, AITS (Aerodrome inspection and training services) and Planztp town planning consultants. Engineering calculation, scheme design and drafting services were also applied.
Thirkell Consulting Engineers was engaged by the West Cairns Bowls Club to inspect and report on the structural steel work that failed during construction work at the West Cairns Bowls Club.
The steelwork structure was under construction to provide a roof over two bowling greens. It consisted of 10 frames of portal truss type, with intermediate hinged connections. The in-service stability of the structure relied on portal frame action in one direction and diaphragm action in the other right-angle direction to unbraced columns. The columns were founded on isolated concrete pedestal footings. The steelwork failure occurred Tuesday 20th June 2006 and the undisturbed site was inspected by TCE on the 26th June 2006. A report was issued and our appointment continued until the court matter was settled in late 2012. Services included expert witness statements, legal counsel consultations and court appearances.