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Fortitude Valley Station

The $32.8 million Fortitude Valley Station Refurbishment Project 2008 is notably one of the most ambitious undertakings by QR Passenger Pty Ltd. Being the largest station upgrade project conducted by the company, the degree of difficulty was heightened by the stations status of being Brisbanes third busiest station, which meant additional safety precautions for workers and passers-by in the live environment.

The station sits within the Valley Metro Shopping Centre and draws on the spirit of an historic music precinct – Fortitude Valleys live venues have helped raise and develop some of Australias greatest modern day musical talents such as Powderfinger, Savage Garden, Regurgitator and even the Bee Gees.  Hence, architects chose to incorporate soundwaves and song lyrics as a theme running through the projects design to create a pleasant visual reminder for commuters.

Catering to around 2.5 million passenger movements a year, the station, previously known as Brunswick Street, is constantly crowded and hence, when it comes to building with glass, no chances could be taken when considering fixings for the huge glass façade structure, a feature of the project.

Buchan Group architects chose NFK spider fittings to secure the glass panels on the stations façade.

Steve Nikolaou, senior architect at the Buchan Group understands the value of using quality products.

Its true that architects and, for that matter, the public at large understand and appreciate quality, but while many projects are conceived with the intention of incorporating quality materials and products, these are often value engineered out of initial proposals for reasons of minimisation of initial costs. In short, quality can and often does suffer at the hands of expediency. However, the Fortitude Valley Station benefited from the early and decisive involvement of the owner/operator, QR Passenger. Owner/operators of any building will place greater emphasis on long-term reductions in maintenance and operating costs so they will generally be more open to ways of achieving this during the design phase.

Steve explains that the rail industry acknowledges that small increases in upfront costs to achieve quality is often offset by potentially lower maintenance costs which can therefore avoid closures and disruptions to the public transport system – an extremely costly exercise.
The NFK spider fittings contributed to the creation of an overall aesthetic of elegance and high technology toward which the project aspired in addition to its many other objectives, said Steve. Queensland Glass Project Manager, Steven North, was happy to use the NFK spider fittings and remarked that the products were easy to use because of the amount of adjustment they have in them.

The panels used on the façade were toughened laminate glass which has some pretty high manufacturing tolerances. We needed to rely on the adjustment in the spider itself to line up with all four holes on the glass and that was made easier with the amount of adjustment in these particular spider fittings.

NFK Managing Director Hayden Kemp is also pleased with the result.

Steve Nikolaou from the Buchan Group was instrumental in specifying these components. The spider had not previously been used on an Australian project, so it was an opportunity for Steve to work with a fresh product.

It is also the first spider without generic square-ish shaped spider arms and that makes it unique.

NKF teamed with European company Sadev to provide the spiders and articulated point fixings and Hayden says they are rated as some of the best in the world.

NFKs focus is not on selling cheap product, but more so quality product. One of the reasons I believe Steve went with the NFK/Sadev solution, is that he knew he would be able to sleep at night. Quality lasts forever, and there is also a lot of glass weight hanging off those spiders!

A public space such as a train station can be very congested at times with commuters, so the safety factor was often discussed in relation to the hardware and glass being used.Whether it's this project or any other, we have a strong understanding of the process of building facades and frameless glass structures, we are willing to work one-on-one with architects to design a buildable project and are not afraid of designing and manufacturing customised hardware to suit their application or aesthetic requirements. Hayden says although stainless steel and glass are hot building products at the moment, many people have concerns over the tea-staining or corrosion of stainless steel.

We have strict quality control over all stainless steel products we manufacture or have manufactured on our behalf. Items used on the fade were: Sadev FXR1003 Articulated Point Fixings - Patented to Sadev (this forms the mechanical connection between the spider and the glass) and NFK custom-machined mounting bosses - used to connect the spider to the stainless steel tubular structure.