83 Abel Smith Street is a four-storey apartment building containing 14 one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, occupying a narrow triangular site between Abel Smith Street and Karo Drive.
A significant feature of this building is that it is built entirely in light timber framing, on a concrete slab-on-grade floor and foundation; generally identical to new house construction. All gravity loads are supported on pre-nailed timber stud framed walls, and all lateral bracing resistance is provided by Gib® plasterboard wall linings which also provide all of the acoustic and fire separation between the apartments. This structural system produces a low-rise multi-storey building with a superior architectural specification that exceeds all performance requirements, while structural steel and concrete are all but eliminated. Structure costs, crane hire, and the use of specialized building trades were all kept to the absolute minimum.
The footprint of the building straddles a large, historic city council stormwater culvert buried at a depth of around 5 metres. In the vicinity of the culvert timber piles were driven below the level of the culvert to ensure the building did not subject it to any new foundation loads that might damage the old brick stormwater structure. Away from the culvert there is no requirement for piling, as the buildings’ light weight enables it to be supported on simple shallow foundations that also resemble domestic house construction.