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Inspiring Projects from the 2017 Timber Design Awards


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CLT and ironbark internal egrees stairs at International House image The Guthrie Project.

Timber can do so much more than framing, formwork, architectural features, and finishes. The winners of this year’s 2017 Timber Design Awards are the perfect proof it can be the structural and aesthetic star of projects at any scale.

The premier award, the Grand Prix Award was won by Tzannes Architects and Lendlease for International House Sydney at Barangaroo, Australia’s first multistorey commercial building constructed from engineered timber. The project also won the People’s Choice Award, the award for Public or Commercial Building, and the Sustainability Award.

Developed by Lendlease and engineered by DesignMake Lendlease, the building is constructed predominantly from cross laminated timber [CLT] and glued laminated timber [glulam].

“The architecture of International House Sydney reflects a new form of beauty,” Alec Tzannes, the principle architect says. “Beyond the shape and surface, it is deep design renewing architecture’s role to serve the greater social purpose of lowering carbon emissions.”

“The architecture of International House Sydney reflects a new form of beauty,” Alec Tzannes, the principle architect says. 

The architects turned the structural limitations of the materials to advantage, designing a unique colonnade that echoes the shapes found in natural forests.

The building’s timber has also been left exposed. Such a Performance-Based solution requires detailed fire engineering to be undertaken to meet the requirements of the National Construction Code.

More than 2,000m3 of CLT were used for the floors and cores, and 930m3 of glulam in the columns and beams of the multi-storey office building. The building also features two-storey high pilasters made from reclaimed ironbark timbers.

Prefabrication was used extensively as part of the build, substantially reducing the time required when compared to conventional ferro-concrete approaches. This approach also led to improved safety, with zero lost time injuries during the construction program.

This approach also led to improved safety, with zero lost time injuries during the construction program. 

In addition, the use of timbers resulted in a building that is lighter, and one that has positive biophilic qualities for both occupants and passers-by.

Another winning project that showcases timber’s benefits in terms of speed, lightness, constructability, and end-of-life materials re-use is the Macquarie University Innovation Hub. It won the awards for Innovative Structural Design, Engineered Timber Products, Timber Panels, and also the award for Timber Panels and Doors.

The building structure comprises two linked pavilions constructed from timber floor cassettes, CLT/glulam roof cassettes, and Victorian Iron Ash glulam V-columns. The facade panels combine Accoya, LVL, glass and Birch ply installed into a spruce structure faced externally with Accoya for longevity.

The project was designed by Architectus and delivered by a team including Lipman, Strongbuild, Taylor Thomson Whitting, Arup, and Against the Grain Windows and Doors.

The facade panels combine Accoya, LVL, glass and Birch ply installed into a spruce structure faced externally with Accoya for longevity. 

As the project has a tight timeframe and a specification of the brief was the building must be able to be disassembled and reassembled at another location if required in future, design for manufacture and assemble and prefabrication approaches were used.

The Multi-residential category award was taken home by Fieldwork Architects for ETZ Townhouses in Parkville. The project also won the award for Timber Cladding. It comprises four three-level townhouses bordered by extensive native parklands. The architect took inspiration from the natural setting in specifying materials including alternating charred and cedar cladding above a ribbon of dark metal cladding.

The benefits of timber in terms of its influence on wellbeing were highlighted in the winning project in the Interior Fit Out Commercial category, the new Bendigo Hospital.

Designed by Silver Thomas Handley in collaboration with Bates Smart, it uses timber as one of several biophilic elements that aim to increase the wellbeing of patients, visitors, and staff. A bespoke woven timber ceiling runs between the hospitals two entrances, creating a dappled light effect as it filters daylight from the skylights above.

It uses timber as one of several biophilic elements that aim to increase the wellbeing of patients, visitors, and staff. 

Landscaping was also treated as part of an integrated whole, with elements including native trees in the interior, a rooftop garden and views of nature including landscape, courtyards, planted screens or landscaped roofs visible from all hospital rooms and circulation spaces.

This is the 18th year the Timber Design Awards have been held. Their aim is to encourage and promote outstanding timber design and project execution, and entries are accepted from anyone involved in the design or building of structures featuring timber, including builders, designers, architects, engineers and landscapers.

Eileen Newbury, National Marketing and Communications Manager for the Forest and Wood Products Association, which resources the award’s platinum sponsor, WoodSolutions, says the quality of entries reflects the increasing popularity of wood and wood products. This trend is expected to increase as more mid-rise residential and other commercial projects realise the significant financial, operational, and environmental benefits of using timber systems.

“I would like to thank all the entrants for their inspirational work and for relentlessly pushing the boundaries of working and building in timber,” Ms Newbury said.

You can gather some more inspiration for your next project by taking a look at the full gallery of all 2017’s winning projects, along with the winners from previous years here.

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