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Engineered Timber: The Way of the Future


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A majority of buildings in Australia have been constructed using concrete or steel, but a different type of material could pave the way for construction projects of the future. 

Lendlease in Australia is well underway to constructing the tallest engineered timber building in the world. Jobsite ANZ spoke to Tony Orazio, the General Manager for Lendlease Building, about how engineered timber can replace other, more common materials, such as concrete and steel, to construct the next generation of buildings.

 The Largest Engineered Timber Building in the World

Lendlease Building is Australia’s largest building, construction, design and development business, with global offices across Asia, Europe and America. Construction of the new 25 King building in Brisbane, Queensland has already started, and once completed, it will stand as the tallest and largest engineered timber office building in the world by gross floor area.

The building is set to reach a height of 45 metres and will consist of nine storeys. In efforts to maintain a sustainable approach to new buildings, 25 King is aiming to achieve a 6-star Green Star Design rating and As-Built rating. All that is possible since it will be using significantly less electricity and potable water than other buildings. 

“A key element of 25 King’s structure is the use of prefabricated modules for each floor."

“A key element of 25 King’s structure is the use of prefabricated modules for each floor. These modules are pre-assembled at ground height and then lifted into place to form what looks like a wooden lego structure”, says Orazio.

25 King, once fully constructed, will be composed of 2097 individual timber elements. It will contain 33 timber columns and 52 beams on each floor. Approximately 21,175 square metres of Cross Laminated Timber will be used in the walls and floor, and approximately 1,415 cubic square metres of glulam timber will be used in the beams and columns. 

The building is projected to be finished at the end of 2018 and will be a feature attraction in Lendlease’s portfolio, particularly in the unique Brisbane scene. With construction costs at an all-time high in Queensland when compared to Australia’s other states and territories, looking to alternative building materials, such as engineered timber, is a savvy way for construction companies to remain competitive.

Additionally, the use of engineered timber products in construction is attractive to businesses because of their structural value. The products are manufactured using parts of timber to conform to application-specific performance requirements. The components are then fused together using adhesives under pressure from heat, forming structural members.

Economic and Environmental Benefits 

The use of timber to construct buildings could prove economical and environmentally friendly for construction companies.

According to a study conducted for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, there is an abundant supply of timber that could be used to construct buildings in the future. Timber possesses a high strength-to-weight ratio and can be used efficiently in structures as it can carry a lot of its own weight.

“The fascinating thing about building with timber is that its strength is akin to concrete and steel. It can be produced economically in a factory environment, and it is designed to achieve up to 40 per cent lower embodied carbon when compared to typical construction,” says Orazio.

 While there are fire safety and moisture sensitivity concerns regarding timber, engineering the timber (as has been done throughout the construction of 25 King) can improve its quality and usability as a building material.

Engineered timber has economic value because timber is most often factory prepared and can be assembled rapidly.

Engineered timber has economic value because timber is most often factory prepared and can be assembled rapidly. Additionally, there are local and global markets that already exist for timber, further increasing its economic value. There are also secondary ways in which timber waste can be used, such as biomass fuel, minimising the production of waste.

The use of engineered timber in construction is growing due to the numerous benefits it provides as a material. Engineered timber could challenge the dominance of steel and concrete in building construction in the future.

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