22/10/2009 - 00:00

Timber build push

22/10/2009 - 00:00

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TIMBER industry group Forest and Wood Products Australia predicts the structural use of manufactured timber products will be an important future growth area for the Western Australian timber industry.

Timber build push
A London building is changing the way architects look at structural framework.

TIMBER industry group Forest and Wood Products Australia predicts the structural use of manufactured timber products will be an important future growth area for the Western Australian timber industry.

FWPA is promoting the design of the world's tallest timber residential building as part of its national 'Wood, Naturally Better' campaign.

The building, a nine-storey timber structure in London's Hackney known as Murray Grove, was designed by London-based Waugh Thistleton Architects director Andrew Waugh.

FWPA chairman Ron Adams said the group is promoting Mr Waugh's design as an example of what can be accomplished using wood, which he said had traditionally only been applied in Australian architecture as an aesthetic function.

“Certainly I think the Australian industry, and ourselves representing the Western Australian industry, have an interest in what trends are overseas," Mr Adams told WA Business News.

“That's a little bit what Forest and Wood Products is all about, trying to look at new techniques, new developments and seeing if they're applicable to WA.

“Everyone's becoming more environmentally conscious of the materials they're using, as well as the way they're using them."

Mr Adams pointed to the establishment of Denis Cullity's Neerabup-based timber business, Wesbeam, which manufactures laminated veneer lumber for structural building applications, as evidence the timber industry was experiencing a significant shift.

“The days of being able to get big logs and big pieces of timber were yesterday," Mr Adams said.

“Today it's all about manufactured timber products and manufactured timber components."

Mr Waugh confirmed that a number of Australian companies had taken delivery of cross laminated veneer lumber manufactured in Europe for testing in Australian conditions and said the technology's use in Australia was "imminent".

He said a building using manufactured lumber as its supportive structure provided significant advantages over traditional steel and concrete high-rise designs.

"Part of the whole thing was to be a vehicle of change," Mr Waugh said.

“The idea is that what we were demonstrating was a viable alternative to concrete and steel.

“What we're not trying to do here is to introduce cross laminated timber as a new style of building, but actually a new way of building.

“If you're building a mid-rise building from timber you don't need a tower crane, it can be done from a mobile crane, so immediately you're saving $500,000 off the bat.

“Then you're also reducing the time on-site by 50 per cent. As soon as you say those things to a developer they sit down and they listen."

The Murray Grove building has been built using a cross-laminated timber panel system and is said to store over 181 tonnes of carbon.

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