Timber buildings set to reach new heights

Griffith University researchers are putting timber to the test to see if tall wooden buildings are the way forward for our cities.

Associate Professor Benoit Gilbert from Griffith’s School of Engineering and Built Environment is part of the team testing engineered solid wood products, such as Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), Glue laminated timber (Glulam) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and their capabilities in collapse resistance.

Reaching timber building heights of five to six storeys has been made possible thanks to products such as these. Australian examples of mid-rise timber buildings include International House Sydney at Barangaroo and the world’s tallest mass timber office building on King St in Brisbane, which is currently under construction.

Associate Professor Gilbert said recent changes in legislation has prompted the rise in popularity for mid-rise buildings internationally.

Timber has many functional, aesthetic and environmental benefits: it’s a renewable, durable and environmentally sustainable building material,” Associate Professor Gilbert said.

“Using timber in building constructions enables less resources and less energy to be consumed when compared to traditional steel and concrete buildings, and the buildings require less time to be constructed as they are erected from prefabricated elements.

“Griffith University has a well-equipped structural laboratory where full-scale tests of timber elements are being performed and the structural behaviour of mass timber buildings under large deformations are investigated.

A three-year collaborative project investigating the prospect of even taller timber buildings — or mass timber buildings) has been recently funded between Griffith, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Queensland Government, Arup and Lendlease.

The project will examine the progressive collapse behaviour of mass timber buildings with CLT floors.