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Innovative Flood Barrier now protecting Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Everybody’s building

Flood barrier

Flood Barrier at Everybody’s bar and restaurant

21st Century solution for Auckland CBD heritage building now in place after floods took out transformer in 2022.

Building owners of a central Auckland heritage office and entertainment building have installed an innovative self-raising flood barrier to prevent a recurrence of the flooding that took the building out of action in 2022 and affected the CBD earlier this year.

The Flood Free Passive Tilting Barrier is a permanent flood barrier that automatically rises to block flood water. Installing FloodFree flood protection;  has been a game changer for the Imperial Building, which includes Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Everybody’s Bar and Restaurant at 7 Fort Lane in the Auckland CBD, says Property Manager, Emma Mountfort.

“I have been involved with the Imperial Building for close to ten years,” says Mountfort. “The March 2022 floods were a 1-in-200-year storm and deluge. We had never seen anything like it. Because the rear entrance to the building is at the low point of Fort Lane, floodwater comes down it like a river. In a king tide, if the council drains block up, the water would come into the building and go straight down the ramp into our below-ground floor.”

Mountfort says that the 2022 rain event led to two feet of water entering the basement within minutes, flooding the building’s main switchboard and vector transformer. This caused an immediate building evacuation, ‘completely frying’ the main switchboard. “The disruption to people’s businesses and livelihoods was absolutely massive. We needed shipping container generators to power the Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores, costing roughly $15,000 a week while we worked to get a temporary switchboard in place.”

When looking at where to re-install the switchboard following the flood, a proposal to install a new Flood Free self-raising barrier gave the building’s owners and managers the confidence to reinstate the switchboard in the same place, where all the services in the building led to. This allowed for a more cost-effective upgrade with little civil works required. Installation of the new barrier was completed in July this year.

Watersmart are; the New Zealand distributor for Flood Free Barriers, as well as a range of other flood protection solutions.  Roger Adlam (pictured with the barrier, above) advised: “The barrier is totally buoyant. It is engineered to withstand the hydrostatic forces applied, so is also, extremely strong. The passive tilting flood barrier is designed under the principles of buoyancy to raise, in advance of the rising water level, to protect the entrance from water inundation. A drain in front of the barrier allows water at the building’s entrance to drain away. Once the water recedes, the self-actuating barrier returns to ground level, without any human intervention”. 

“The FloodFree range of Flood Barriers offers a number of self-actuating and manual options, for permanent and temporary solutions. Watersmart work with key stake holders and project managers to ensure all barriers are designed to meet exact site requirements and operator specifications. “We are working with other building owners in flood affected areas to design purpose-built solutions, with a current project requiring a 20 meter long flood barrier. Watersmart can also assist to connect the barrier to a camera so the client can visually inspect what’s going on from afar, as well as a range of visual and audible alarm systems.”

Mountfort is reassured to know that the building is now well prepared for future flood events. “Knowing that we are able to hold off any water until the tide goes out and that this critical element of the building will not be inundated again is a massive reassurance to me. Things can be replaced, paint can be repainted, but you can’t just get a new switchboard off the shelf.”

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