Fast Walling Solutions for Narrow Block 

Building in metropolitan urban areas presents many challenges to builders. Specifically a re-build on a small Commercial Business District block on valuable land often requires new perimeter wall construction abutting pre-existing neighbouring boundary walls. Concrete provides an excellent and practical solution to these challenges.


The building block fronts Sydney Road which is the main thoroughfare to the busy and bustling centre of Manly. The block was previously occupied by an older commercial building which had passed its use by date and the owner sought demolition and a new design and build which maintained ground floor retail tenancies and capitalised on the airspace above with commercial tenancies and residential apartments. Parking for material deliveries construction activity was confined and restricted on the main access road frontage and being a small sized block of land, construction area and storage room was cramped and in scarce supply.

Due to the small size of the land and the necessity to efficiently utilise the entire footprint, the building structure was required to abut the boundary walls of the neighbouring buildings on either side. These factors combined make construction on these types of building sites particularly difficult and challenging for the builder. The challenge was elegantly solved by local Sydney architect Smart Design and local builder Growthbuilt by using tilt-up concrete construction for the perimeter boundary walls in conjunction with insitu reinforced concrete for the columns, additional walls, beams and floors.


The development was designed by Smart Design Studio of Surry Hills, Sydney whose motto is appropriately “Design from the inside out”. It consisted of basement car parking, a ground floor retail tenancy and two commercial tenancies, two residential levels with four apartments per floor and a top level of two large two bedroom penthouse apartments set back from the street with roof top terraces.


External walls four storeys high were constructed flat on the ground floor slab then lifted by crane and “tilted” into position. Casting a tall vertical element flat on the ground removes the risk of working at height and problems associated with human backs lugging heavy building materials up four storeys of lift. The slabs are stack cast on the ground, cured and then in one day all the perimeter boundary walls are lifted in position by crane creating a swift and cost effective wall construction method.

Services and future service provisions are easily created in the walls by placing conduit and cable within the tilt-up formwork. Windows and doors are easily created by simply using formwork block-outs. Lifting points and inserts are cast into the slab for crane rigging attachment along with temporary bracing ferrules and connections. Once the walls are connected and braced by the box diaphragm of the building the temporary bracing is removed producing a strong robust structure. All work is carried out within the confines of a restricted inner city building site affording easy access with no overhang or infringement upon neighbouring properties.

The internal structural framing walls and columns of the building were constructed using conventionally formed insitu reinforced concrete along with the floors, roof and staircases creating a strong robust structure. 


Low maintenance and durability

The internal walls, ceilings and columns were intentionally left as exposed concrete surfaces creating an appealing low maintenance and durable walling solution taking advantage of the inherent beauty and qualities of concrete.

Fast and Practical

Tilt-up construction provides a speedy reliable method that allows fast wall construction which can be completely manufactured and erected from within the tight boundary confines of a city block. 

Concrete is for keeps

Concrete solves the challenging design and construct issues of constructability on a small confined site providing a finished product that has low maintenance, with high durability and robustness. Concrete underpinned the success of this challenging inner suburban residential construction providing a practical and elegant solution. 

Project: Central Business District Mixed use multi-residential

Location: Sydney Road, Balgowlah

Architect: Smart Design Studios, Surry Hills, Sydney

Builder: Growthbuilt Pty Ltd, Surry Hills, Sydney

Engineer: Opus International, Chatswood, Sydney

Photography: Smart Design, Growthbuilt, CCAA.

Concrete Systems:

Walls: Tilt-up concrete and insitu concrete

Columns: Insitu concrete

Floors: Insitu concrete