Media response - D'Arenberg Cube

Published on 08 July 2019

Enquiry - Fire safety matters at the site

Was the council aware of these issues prior to the inspection?

Yes, it was brought to the attention of the Council’s Building Fire Safety Committee by the CFS. The primary issues the council identified were:
  1. The fire safety risk of the installation of combustible materials to walls and ceiling. The Council became aware of this following a complaint made to the Council’s Building Fire Safety Committee on 16 March 2019.
  2. The unauthorised change of use of multiple levels of the building from the uses that were approved.
  3. The use of the building beyond the maximum occupant capacity.

We were told it was considered an emergency and serious, is this so?

Yes, the Council’s Building Fire Safety Committee issued a notice under the Development Act 1993 in relation to the combustible wall and ceiling attachments on the basis it was considered an emergency. The combustible items have since been removed.

Via two notices and a letter issued to D’Arenberg on 29 May.

The first notice required all combustible wall and ceiling attachments to be removed within seven days, which was done as required (after being granted a 2 day extension).

The second notice, requires a report from a suitably qualified engineer within two months, regarding the suitability of mirrors and artwork in the stairway and advice/certificates verifying that ceiling linings and attachments to all floors meet with relevant standards. This is being addressed at present.

The letter requiring long-outstanding building approval documentation and other relevant documents, is then to be provided within 28 days.

The exact nature of how some of these non-emergency items will be addressed is still to be determined. The council is currently working cooperatively with D’Arenberg to address these issues in a timely manner.

The cube has been opened for 18 months and, under council policy, inspection should be annual. Why has it taken so long to find these issues, considering it is a public safety risk? 

Firstly, the Council is not required to inspect buildings annually. Prior to occupation, the CFS inspected the building and requested the removal of certain combustible materials attached to the ceiling and walls. These items were removed, but were later replaced, contrary to the instructions of the CFS.

How many times has the cube been inspected? We have been told the council has never inspected it.

The Cube has been inspected twice by the Council’s Building Fire Safety Committee. Prior to occupation the CFS also inspected the fire and life safety aspects of the building.

Were there any safety complaints made to council about the cube? When were they received?

The initial complaint made to the Building Fire Safety Committee occurred on 16 March 2019.

Did the council do a safety check of the cube when it opened?

As discussed above, the CFS inspected prior to occupation.

In light of this incident, will council make fire checks more regular, particularly at tourist attractions?

The Council inspects buildings in accordance with its building inspection policy.
The building inspection policy prioritises the inspection of buildings containing large numbers of people, reflecting a risk-based approach. We will continue to do this.

We were also told there were issues of a political nature thus conversations were going through lawyers. What is this ‘political nature.’?

The reason it has been considered of a political nature, is because the Cube is an iconic and well recognised building. Because of the complexities of some of the requirements, communications did involve legal representatives.