Following the near decade old European trend, the Australian construction industry has started to embrace commercial construction in timber. The material and methodology brings with it the potential for faster and more cost-efficient construction, with less overall waste, less on-site resources, and a safer, quieter, cleaner build site.
The technology, known as prefrabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT), has already been utilised effectively by construction giant Lend Lease in their Melbourne Docklands apartment project, Forte. This mid-rise luxury apartment tower is not only the tallest timber apartment complex in Australia, it also lays claim to the title of Australia’s greenest apartment building.
However, it’s private builder Strongbuild that is working on Australia’s largest CLT project – an affordable apartment complex across three towers, developed by BlueCHP and based in the south-western Sydney suburb of Campbelltown. With a tight deadling and a limited budget, BlueCHP were facing several challenges, however these were addressed when Strongbuild proposed a cost effect solution based on CLT rather than traditional concrete and steel.
Over 3,000 cubic metres of CLT will be used to construct the 101 residential units in towers up measuring up to eight stories high, and despite it's size, the project requires as few as four workmen on site at a time, increasing it's cost efficiency and decreasing noise levels.
"Cost efficiency in construction needs to be a priority"
Currently, CLT is imported from various parts of Europe, however CLT will soon be made in Australia with Lend Lease setting up it’s own factory in western Sydney, and New Zealand timber producer XLam opening a plant in Albury to produce CLT from Australian pine.
As Australia's housing market continues to grow and prices continue to soar, cost efficiency in construction needs to be a priority. Thankfully, technologies such as CLT combined with innovative developers and builders, like BlueCHP & Strongbuild, is proving to be a promising solution that could make a real impact.