The Hotel Britomart

The Hotel Britomart is the first eco-friendly hotel to hit Auckland, providing the city’s thriving tourism industry with a boutique offering that seamlessly blends sustainable features into an indulgent yet comforting atmosphere. Opening its doors in mid 2020, The Hotel Britomart incorporates a new 11 storey building and the refurbished, adjoining Masonic and Buckland buildings. The hotel offers 104 rooms, mixed use commercial space and administration on the ground floor, and a gym in the basement.

As the first property company in New Zealand to join the Green Star Performance rating system, Britomart successfully achieved a 5 Green Star rating during its design and build as well as its Green Star Performance accreditation since operating. This was achieved through the choosing of sustainable materials, incorporating reused concrete and recycled water through and passive design.

This project allowed our team to provide our client with a unique level of service through our collaboration with fellow members of the Holmes’ family, Holmes Consulting and Holmes Solutions. The team from Holmes Consulting provided valuable insight into the structural elements of the design while Holmes Solutions undertook full scale testing of the precast façade panels incorporating pieces of brick.

Rigorous cooperation with the other stakeholders was required to successfully navigate the complexities of upgrading a heritage structure to current fire standards while adhering to sustainability and design requirements. The Fire Engineering strategy for The Hotel Britomart utilised smoke modelling to assess the most effective solutions for the project. Given the hotel’s height and occupancy requirements, one of the main challenges was the single stair. Through smoke modelling and egress calculations Holmes Fire showed that the stair achieves the fire safety performance requirements. The single stair was an important part of the design as it maximised the floor area available for hotel rooms.

The refurbishment of the existing Masonic and Buckland buildings included additional structural support, fire rated separations, smoke sealing and sprinkler protection.



Jubilee Place

As part of the transformation of the Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, this composite steel building will project outwardly with a externally braced load-bearing diagrid structure resembling a large steel web. The development has a strong focus on the people and their experience in the building. This project has prioritised environmental conscious design by setting the bar high in terms of sustainability targets, achieving a six-star Green Star, five-star NABERS and Gold WELL Building Standard.

The structural fire engineering of the building is a key aspect to the design, as the unique and complex nature of the building dictates a first principles approach to be followed when designing for fire safety. The structural fire engineering team developed a holistic fire safety design that removed unnecessary and redundant passive protection, quantified actual building behaviour under fire and building loads, and provided a defensible and robust pathway for building approval.

Additional fire engineering solutions where also developed throughout the building to enhance occupant safety and usability, to mitigate the risk of fire spread between properties, and to specifically design a bespoke passive fire protection strategy for the building.

Jubilee Place as a result, will not only be an architectural statement but also become a precedent for good fire safety design utilising advanced Structural Fire Safety principles to encourage more unique and innovative designs.

Little National Hotel

Currently under construction, Little National Hotel promises to offer local and international travellers a luxurious escape in the heart of Sydney CBD. Utilizing the existing Wynyard Walk structure above Wynyard Station, the hotel boasts 230 contemporary rooms enveloped by a striking curved façade and vertical garden. Guests have access to a modern gym, library and exclusive rooftop lounge and bar with city views.

The hotel structure comprises a steel-framed structure with a composite steel-concrete floor system. Holmes Fire’s team of structural fire engineers, in collaboration with the structural engineers’ team from TTW, developed a unique optimised fire protection strategy for the steel structure. Holmes Fire was able to demonstrate via an advanced thermal and structural fire analysis, utilising non-linear finite element software, that the structural frame with an optimised fire protection strategy can maintain structural stability throughout the entirety of a credible fire scenario. This resulted in major cost savings for the client, as the solution allowed for reduced passive protection of steel members, reducing material and labour costs.

In addition to the structural fire assessment, a number of Performance Solutions were required to support the design intent of the building. These included, for example, reduced fire resistance levels to particular areas, external separation of fire compartments, service penetrations through fire rated elements, travel distances to exits, egress width, stair discharge, protection of fire hydrant booster etc. Holmes Fire also analysed any potential impact the fire strategy of the new hotel may have on the existing Wynyard Walk building and helped enable the two buildings having some combined fire services.

One particular challenge faced in this project was the proposed design option of having an external stair instead of an enclosed fire-isolated stair serving levels above 25m in height. This is not permitted in the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy compliant provisions due to the risk that people would suffer vertigo and the risk that weather conditions, particularly wind, may become more severe above this height. Holmes Fire helped enable this design by performing a detailed analysis of the wind effects on the external stair to show that the wind velocity wouldn’t impact occupant evacuation conditions.

Canterbury Leagues Club

The Canterbury Leagues Club in Belmore has long been one of Sydney’s premier hospitality destinations. Holmes Fire has been involved in many of the upgrades and extensions to the building that have occurred over the years as the club expanded in size and patronage. The Club incorporates bars, entertainment lounges, restaurants, gaming, health club, function spaces and carparking.

Since the building has been constructed in a piecemeal manner, with many extensions at different times, Holmes Fire provided a holistic fire engineering assessment of the building in 2010 to check that the design and operation of the building as a whole would be adequate in the event of a fire. This involved fire and smoke modelling to assess the impacts of potential fires and computer modelling of a complete building evacuation to determine the egress characteristics of the building.

Canterbury Leagues Club recently underwent a master plan redevelopment to add a five-storey basement carpark, café and gaming areas. Holmes Fire provided Fire Engineering services as part of a large consultant team to develop a practical fire safety design that integrates with the existing fire safety design and enables a number of cost savings through the application of Alternative Solutions.

Key benefits of Holmes Fire’s involvement are the provision of an Alternative Solution to permit the architectural glass lift and water feature to connect all levels of the five-storey basement and permit the fire-isolated stairway to discharge into the lift lobby. These aspects of the design enabled the architect and client to achieve the desired aesthetic in the area that would form the primary entry point for patrons.

As the Club was to remain operational during construction works, Holmes Fire provided an Interim Fire Safety Strategy to justify temporary fire safety non-compliances such as blocking of egress routes and reduced exit widths. Through the application of management procedures that Holmes Fire developed, the construction was able to proceed uninterrupted, whilst still affording a suitable level of fire safety for occupants within the operations areas of the building.

Paramount Hotel

The Paramount Hotel has been developed from an existing heritage building, activating the already vibrant Paramount Studios. The existing building featured timber floors and Holmes Fire was requested to retain the heritage masonry façade and windows as part of the engineering assessment that exposed these as a feature for the proposed hotel rooms.

A complex fire engineering philosophy for the building was created, incorporating advanced occupant warning and custom alert systems, in addition to passive fire safety measures. These were required to meet the heritage requirements whilst complying with the Building Code. To retain and preserve the external façade and offer a feature to the modern adaptation, the design created internal winter gardens for each hotel room, as a method to manage the limited available natural light within the building. Glass walls, offering privacy between each internal winter garden, created a unique problem for fire protection and a performance based solution was designed to allow for wall wetting sprinklers, creating a compliant result that was un-obtrusive to the design intent and heritage factors within the design.

As a result of the fire engineering works, the vast majority of the original structure in the building was retained, with intelligent passive and active fire safety measures. Occupant safety and property protection requirements were significantly improved resulting in a successful outcome, offering a custom heritage upgrade forming a new fabric in Sydney’s architectural story.­


This historic nine-story building was constructed in 1904 with unreinforced masonry and a terracotta facade. 1095 Market survived San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake as well as the subsequent fires that consumed the building’s interior. Previously an office building, this high-rise underwent a change-of-use to become a hotel with retail and assembly space on the ground floor and roof levels.

Holmes Fire’s fire protection upgrade strategy allowed a historic staircase connecting seven levels to remain open for egress purposes, increasing the building’s floor area while maintaining natural lighting.

Holmes Structures undertook undertook the seismic retrofit of this historically significant structure, bringing it up to current code without impacting its defining masonry facade. Minimal concrete shear walls fit discretely within the original layout of the building, preserving the original hallways and interior spaces. The structure was reinforced with concrete walls and diaphragm overlays.

Coral Casino

The Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club is a designated historic landmark set atop Butterfly Beach and known as a playground for Hollywood stars. The building is a two-story, wood-framed structure with a lighthouse tower and it was originally designed by architect Gardner A. Dailey in 1937. Known as the “Gem of the Pacific”, its style is grounded in crisp minimal detailing and sweeping horizontal lines, much like a luxury steamliner.

Holmes Fire developed alternative methods utilizing performance-based strategies to achieve adequate fire protection to structural steel installed within the historic mural covered walls, where space and preservation constraints prevented conventional fire protection methods from being utilized. Holmes Fire also developed alternative methods to protect boundary wall openings without the need for drencher protection, saving the client construction costs.

Holmes Structures’ historic preservation utilized the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The facility was required to remain operational during the design process, allowing the Holmes Structures team only key investigations of the existing buildings. Holmes Structures was flexible throughout the design and construction phases, adapting to preserve and salvage existing structural framing and finishes in collaboration with the architectural team in a fluid process.


Recently honored with a Michelin Star, this modern Moroccan restaurant offers a carefully curated dining experience and environment. Upon entering 140 New Montgomery—the historic Pacific Telegraph and Telephone Building—guests encounter an exposed, existing concrete structure. Working with a dual palette of refined and industrial materials, Lundberg Design created an elegant and raw space. Holmes Fire provided the fire engineering solutions at Mourad with special attention to the glass-enclosed wine bridge by the entrance.

The wine bridge hangs above the lounge separating the bar from the dining room. The bridge is comprised of a steel Vierendeel truss that hangs from the structure above and ties into the existing columns. The structure is also designed for special loading criteria for seismic weight. This climate controlled steel and glass structure displays the restaurant’s wine collection which is visible from the side and below.

A new mezzanine creates additional space for dining, back of house and mechanical spaces. With limited shear walls to tie into the metal structure, the mezzanine required a unique design to achieve the open architectural goal. Two new feature stairs made of bent steel plate compliment the space. One stair hangs from the beams above and the other features a single stringer. Industrial grating typically used on flooring was applied vertically to create the banister walls.

Arc by Crown

Arc by Crown is an iconic mixed use development, an architectural statement, one that changed the Sydney skyline. Designed by Koichi Takada Architects, Arc by Crown is situated in the heart of Sydney and features a striking design incorporating heritage-inspired lower levels transitioning to a modern glass-and-steel tower, capped with a number of steel arches. The building incorporates multiple levels of basement carparking, two levels of retail and a combination of serviced and owner occupied apartments with a rooftop terrace.

Holmes Fire provided Building Code of Australia (BCA) advice in the early stages of the project to identify potential non-compliance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions and areas where Fire Engineering could add value to the design. This enabled the design team to submit a bold design to council for Development Application approval, with the confidence that significant BCA non-compliances had been identified with a strategy in place to justify Alternative Solutions.

Arc by Crown contains a number of unique features that required Holmes Fire to develop innovative, yet practical fire engineering solutions whilst still maintaining an acceptable level of fire safety. One example is the glass lift shaft connecting all above ground storeys, providing spectacular views to the north. The BCA prescriptive provisions require this shaft to be of masonry construction however, by providing a suite of subtle fire safety features, in-keeping with the architectural intent of the building, Holmes Fire was able to demonstrate that fire spread via the lift shaft would be mitigated, permitting the architecturally significant centrepiece glazed lift design to be embraced as a fire protected feature.

The design also incorporates natural ventilation for a number of the apartments. Holmes Fire was able to develop a fire safety solution that enabled open windows in the fire rated walls between the apartments and the common corridors. This provides bright and airy living spaces that would not have been achievable under the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.

Other Alternative Solutions provided by Holmes Fire included:

  • Extended travel distances
  • Omission of stair re-entry facilities
  • Location of the fire brigade booster
  • Omission of sprinklers from cupboards and concealed spaces
  • Provision of natural smoke ventilation to the through site link

Throughout this project, Holmes Fire worked closely with the client, architect, services engineers, fire brigade, builder and project certifier to help identify fire safety issues, develop cost effective, practical and aesthetically achievable solutions which ultimately meet the design objectives whilst achieving suitable levels of fire safety for the building’s occupants and fire brigade personnel.