Engineered timber on the rise

Having successfully campaigned to change the Building Code to make it easier to build mid-rise buildings in engineered timber, FWPA is maintaining momentum on a number of fronts to increase its use. These include world-leading acoustic research, visits from international architects, a programme of meetings with local developers and a design competition. 

Both Andrew Waugh and Russell Acton can claim to be the architect behind the world’s ‘biggest’ contemporary timber buildings.

Andrew is behind the world’s largest cross-laminated timber building project by volume, Dalston Lane in London which used 4,400 cubic metres in 121 apartments.

Meanwhile Russell designed the world’s tallest mass timber building – Brock Commons Tallwood House in Canada – which stands at 18 storeys, almost double the world record of just five years ago, the 10-storey Forté building in Melbourne. (He believes timber can easily be built to 30 storeys with current technology.)

FWPA have sponsored both architects to visit Australia in recent months, where they have shared their knowledge and experience with local developers, architects and media. (The Australian Financial Review, Domain and ABC Radio National were among the media outlets to cover the visits.)

That’s not all we at FWPA are doing to advance the cause.

Our Mid-rise Advisory Program team are continuing to identify building projects currently in planning which could potentially be built in engineered timber – and meeting with builders, consultants and developers to educate them on possibilities.

Discussions are currently underway with people associated with almost 30 new projects, most of which we believe will proceed to construction.

FWPA and industry have also joined together to fund research into the acoustics of cross-laminated timber in order to overcome an absence of information which is a major barrier to its use.

Almost 100 wall and floor configurations were tested, in the most comprehensive program of its type in the world.

A design guide based on the research will be published later this year.

Meanwhile, DangerousDesigns – an online competition created to promote the use of wood and wood products – is attracting entries from both student and professional designers, including a recent award-winner who entered with a design for a cross-laminated timber apartment block.

Jay Wetherill and Russell Acton
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and Canadian architect Russell Acton (top) with supporters of timber buildings