Showcase timber building attracting international interest


When completed next year, the building will become the world’s first multi-storey wooden building to use pre-stressed timber as a structural building material.
The building was designed by the Nelson-based team of Irving Smith Jack Architects and multi-disciplinary engineers Aurecon.
Their highly original concept for the three-storey building won a national competition for the building’s design run by NMIT and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2008.

The design brief was that the building had to be sustainable and substantially made of wood. Timber is sustainable, renewable, locally available and requires less energy to manufacture than other building materials such as concrete and steel.

Project director Andrew Irving says in resolving the conceptual design, a degree of structural innovation was essential from the outset, requiring close collaboration between architect and engineer.
“We identified three or four options for the design then settled on the combination of simple gravity frames with a more complex shear wall seismic system,” Mr Irving says.

This option was chosen because the sophistication of shear walls “allowed us to use an elegant timber frame with straightforward connections that could readily be adapted for use in a variety of building typologies”.
He says there has been strong interest in the project, both in New Zealand and from as far afield as Chile and India. Later this month leading timber engineers from all over the world will descend on Nelson to check out the building’s many innovations.

The tour is part of the programme for the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction forum hosted by Canterbury University.
Originally due to be held in Christchurch, the forum’s venue was changed to Nelson to incorporate the visit.
”As architects, we see this as the first in a new generation of creative, sustainable, wooden structured, multi-storeyed buildings,” Mr Irving says.

STIC chief executive Robert Finch says the engineers’ visit will give the building “good international exposure and a chance for them to see what can be achieved with wood as a structural building material”.

Another two projects are already in the pipeline in New Zealand, and Mr Finch says it is hoped that the use of wood as a structural building material here and overseas will be encouraged.
The project will also feature as a case study in this year’s New Zealand Timber Design Society Wood Solutions seminar series commencing on August 31, Mr Irving says.
The building will maximise the warmth and visual appeal of structural timber. To achieve this, all structural timber components will remain visible, which will also allow the project’s innovative use of wood to be showcased to the design and construction industries.

The building’s design also breaks new ground for:
• Incorporating energy-dissipating, earthquake-resistant engineering technology in a structural timber design.
• Its sustainable approach to construction, making use of timber as a renewable resource, grown and manufactured within a 100km radius of Nelson.
• Using locally manufactured LVL by Nelson Pine as the primary structural element, and local fabricators Hunter Laminates and Potius flooring to manufacture structural components. At the same time, this supports Nelson’s forestry and timber manufacturing industries.
• Using Potius floor panels for the first time in a multi-storey timber building.

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