Aurecon's expertise on Timber Buildings addresses the increasing trend toward engineered timber as a viable mass-scale complement to traditional materials.

Timber building design

Timber building design

Rising timber trends

Over the past decade, there has been an increasing trend toward engineered timber as a viable mass-scale complement to traditional materials such as concrete and steel. Recent examples include the world’s tallest timber building, Mjøstårnet by Voll Arkitekter in Brumunddal, Norway, and Australia’s tallest engineered timber building, 25 King, in Brisbane.

But is this timber trend merely a fad or does it herald the arrival of a new generation of mainstream construction material?

The benefits of timber

Advances in timber construction technology with Mass Engineered Timber (MET) materials such as cross laminated timber (CLT) and glue laminated timber (Glulam) and improved availability of these products has enhanced the supply options. Other benefits of timber are well documented, such as:

  • Research has shown that adding natural elements, such as timber, to our workplace environments is associated with increased feelings of wellbeing and higher productivity. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.
  • Being the only truly renewable mainstream building material, timber delivers sustainability and environmental benefits while sequestering carbon. 25 King achieves a saving of 74 per cent of embodied carbon over a traditionally constructed steel and concrete building.
  • Building with timber is faster, quieter and safer, and produces less waste. The prefabrication of elements off-site can reduce the time on-site by up to 50 per cent. Timber buildings do not require back-propping which means that facades can be constructed sooner, eliminating the need for scaffold, and allowing for the speedy first fix installation of services.
  • Timber is lighter than steel or concrete, making it the perfect choice where weight is an issue. For example, timber can be an enabler for Transport Oriented Developments (TODs) where buildings are constructed over tunnels and other transport infrastructure, in bad ground, or on top of existing buildings that are limited by the capacity of the original structure.
  • A prefabricated timber building requires a much smaller on-site workforce, making it a great choice for constrained sites where noise issues and congestion due to construction activity is an issue.
  • 8 per cent of global CO2 emissions are produced in cement making activities. Replacing concrete elements with timber reduces the global warming impact of construction. Giving due consideration to the carbon sequestered in timber buildings can contribute to a timber building becoming carbon positive. 

But is the momentum of building high-rise with timber products being hampered by perceptions of disadvantages such as fire rating requirements, durability, susceptibility to termites or moisture ingress and performance in terms of acoustics and vibration?

In reality, such issues can be effectively mitigated through good design and detailing practices, and a deep understanding and appreciation of how to effectively design and construct in timber.

Our difference

With experience in designing and managing the construction of commercial timber buildings around the world, Aurecon has built expertise that is invaluable in understanding the pros and cons of timber.

  • Human-centred approach: We take a human-centred and holistic approach to timber design – understanding the biophilic benefits of timber for end-user occupants
  • Managing the supply chain: We have deep connections with industry which helps in managing the supply chain of timber design and construction to unlock value
  • Understanding sustainability benefits: We understand, and can quantify the sustainability benefits of timber across the entire project lifecycle
  • Exploiting the aesthetics: We exploit the aesthetic benefits of timber to showcase this natural product at its best
  • ‘Fit for purpose’ hybrid designs: Our commitment to timber is not all-encompassing – we realise that sometimes hybrid designs are more ‘fit for purpose’
  • Investing in the future: We are investing in the future of timber manufacture through our research into the use of robotics in mass engineered timber construction

25 King Street – A visionary timber building

Putting people at the heart of our built environment has brought the design of Australia’s tallest and largest engineered timber office building to life. Watch this video to learn more about our Brisbane office, 25 King.


How we deliver

We deliver through collaboration and co-creation – understanding our clients’ challenges, prototyping, testing and refining to arrive at the best solutions – this is our Aurecon Methodology. We always ensure that working with us is enjoyable and rewarding for everyone – we call this the Aurecon experience.

  • Smart building technology: As early adopters of digital technologies, we bring the latest and most appropriate tools to the design and delivery of our clients’ projects, to ensure our leading-edge knowledge and experience is transferred to our clients and their projects. From creating a ‘digital twin’ of existing assets to better manage and understand maintenance and lifecycle needs, to using machine learning as part of a ‘smart building’ approach to analyse data to decrease energy usage and operational costs and enable better investment decision-making, we are at the forefront of engineering technology that can amplify business success.
  • Innovation: We use design-led thinking as a core methodology, backed by a mindset and Aurecon-proprietary toolkit for innovation. With our clients, we take a human-centred approach to co-create and deliver solutions focused on end-users, so that their ultimate experience is enhanced.
  • Eminence and expertise: We draw on a strong cohort of Aurecon leaders from around our business to provide the right team for each challenge. Our design leaders are nurtured through our own Design Academy and Masters programme, with a strong focus on encouraging and supporting diversity to enable innovation.

Podcasts

Listen to these ABC podcasts interviewing John McGuire, Aurecon's Managing Director – Built Environment, on the benefits of timber building design.

  • From the 1880s onward steel became the material of choice for building skyscrapers.

    Now that’s beginning to change. Cross-laminated timber is becoming a construction staple and the towers of tomorrow may soon be predominantly wood.

    Listen now! Visit ABC's website

  • From the Giant Sequoia and the Cathedral-like Mountain Ash forest, to modern timber skyscrapers, we explore the world of trees. We take a tour of the world's most spectacular trees, learn why cross laminated timber might revolutionise the building industry, and discover an ambitious urban project that is transforming Melbourne's western suburbs.

    Listen now! Visit ABC's website

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