Looking to The Future With Tall Timber Buildings

The conventional construction material of timber is to be given a new definition under technological advancements. The timber industry and government have joint hands to invest in research and development in order to encourage forestry resource use in commercial construction.

According to NZ Wood promotion manager Debbie Fergie, with more new commercial and residential buildings in New Zealand that are eight storeys or below, the height is ideal for using engineered timber. She suggests “as the challenge of providing more affordable housing solution grows, we have to search for more innovative ways of designing and making buildings.”

Daryl Patterson, lendlease Head of Operational Excellence, Property in Sydney adds, “This includes rethining the materials we use, the design software we use, and the manufacturing and construction processes.”

After being processed by robotics, engineered timber delivers a high level of accuracy and quality. It also eliminates the communication problem in passing information through various hands by allowing the architects’ design software to talk directly to machines.

The advantages of improved load bearing and structural strength allow timber to compete against steel in its installed properties. As a wood based product, it also conveys additional benefits of sustainability, versatility, aesthetic warmth and appeal, predictability under fire and damage resistance under earthquake.

In recent years, the production of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in New Zealand is equivalent to that of Britain and the United States combined. The pros of using CLT include fast and quieter construction, much safer work practices, reduced carbon emissions and cost minimisation. Most importantly, it is the only renewable structural building material.

In the past, only low-rise structures were allowed to use engineered timber with concerns regarding the risk of fire hazard from lightweight timber framing. This is now challenged by new findings that heavy timber performs better than steel in fire.

Above all, the application of timber to tall buildings may change the traditional building market in terms of materials, software and manufacturing processes.