Timber-framed medium and high-rise buildings are growing in popularity across the world. This is because of their lower carbon footprint, enhanced beauty, fast build time, and psychological benefits for the end user.

Currently, the world’s tallest timber building is Mjøstårnet in Norway, an 85 metre mixed-use complex completed in March 2019.

But how is Australia doing in the timber construction space? 

Let’s look at Australia’s top 5 engineered timber buildings.

5. Library at the Dock, Docklands, VIC

Completed in 2014, Library at The Dock is Australia’s first public building to achieve 6-star Green Star status.

CLT and Glulam were chosen as a lightweight alternative for the structure which is constructed on top of a 75-year old heritage-listed wharf. These materials provided a 30% weight reduction compared to traditional materials.

This highly sustainable building reuses hardwood timber from the original wharf and includes passive ventilation, natural lighting, solar panels and a water collection system - setting a new benchmark for sustainability in public buildings.

4. Candlebark School Library, Romsey, VIC

Timber was not the obvious choice for a library next to bush-fire prone forest. Architect Paul Haar proposed an underground timber-framed structure built into the sloping land. Sustainably sourced LVL roof beams from WA were used to support the earth covered roof.

Using the earth as a thermal shield, the building also functions as a refuge in a bushfire event.

3. Forté, Docklands, VIC

At the time of completion in 2012, the 10-storey, 23 apartment Forte building in Docklands held the title as the tallest timber apartment building in the world. Standing at 32 m high, it was Australia’s first CLT building. 

The use of engineered timber reduced CO2 equivalent emissions by more than 1,400 tonnes even though it was prefabricated and shipped from Austria by boat.

It took just 16 weeks to assemble the timber frame on the geopolymer concrete base structure.

2. International House Sydney, Sydney NSW

International House Sydney was Australia’s first commercial building to be constructed of engineered timber. The 6-storey building located in Barangaroo, comprises CLT and Glulam structural elements spanning up to 9 metres. With it’s V-shaped support structure the distinct timber components are visible through the low-iron double glazed facade.

Engineered timber was used for its sustainability advantages and to capture the essence of the previous timber wharf.

1. 25 King Street, Brisbane, QLD

Upon completion in 2018, 25 King became Australia’s tallest timber building and still remains the world’s largest by floor area. Designed by Bates Smart the 45-metre high, 10-storey commercial office complex draws inspiration from the renowned timber Queenslander home. It was constructed in just 15 months using 100% responsibly sourced European Spruce.

The building is expected to achieve WELL Certification - a scheme focused on the wellbeing of building users.

These projects propel forward timber high-rise construction in Australia. They demonstrate how this traditional building material can be readopted in modern construction practice to reduce the carbon footprint and improve the wellbeing of building users whilst still being economically viable.