Australia’s largest tall timber building

Almost 3000 cubic meters of Cross Laminated Timber, more commonly known as CLT, arrived in Campbelltown, New South Wales earlier this year for what will become Australia’s largest tall timber building.

“The Gardens” is the largest affordable housing project that has been delivered without any government funding.  Developed by Tier 1 affordable housing provider, BlueCHP Limited, the project will set a new benchmark in the delivery of high quality housing for Key Workers in one of Sydney’s key growth centres.

CLT is a relatively new method timber construction  to Australia but has been widely accepted as a preferred innovative, environment friendly building material for medium and mid-rise construction in Europe and the US for over 15 years. CLT brings a number of unique advantages to the table that present efficiencies without sacrificing structural integrity, design or build quality.

Maintaining their stringent quality requirements with a tight deadline and a limited construction budget was a challenge that BlueCHP Limited faced for this project, however this was addressed when building contractor, Strongbuild, proposed a cost effective build solution based on CLT rather than traditional concrete and steel.

“When Strongbuild presented this alternate construction method we were immediately enthused. The idea of being able to trim a substantial amount of time off the build while ultimately creating a softer, warmer, environmentally friendly living experience suited our company objectives perfectly“, continued Mr Northcote.

Adam Strong, Managing Director of Strongbuild commented, “It is fantastic to be given the opportunity to work with a forward thinking, innovative client like BlueCHP who shared our vision of using CLT for this landmark project.”

CLT is manufactured using layers of timber to create solid panels. As the name suggests each layer is arranged crosswise, alternating between longitudinal and transverse, glued and pressed together under tremendous pressure to create a structurally stable building material that has similar characteristics to concrete and steel yet is 30 per cent lighter than traditional structures and also offers better thermal performance and requires less energy to heat and cool.

“CLT is engineered and processed in a factory to be precise, making it fast and efficient to construct. This also translates into less waste, less on site construction resources and a safer, quieter, cleaner overall build site”, said Mr Strong. “It offers benefits to both our client and our site teams whilst also having less impact on the local neighbourhood during construction.”

Strongbuild teamed up with leading structural engineers, AECOM, to ensure the structural integrity and durability of the material met BlueCHP’s expectations as a long term owner and landlord of the properties.

“The benefit of CLT is that it provides an effective alternative to concrete and steel but without any of the environmental impacts. Concrete has an energy intensive production process, creating a lot of greenhouse gases and contributing to the high carbon footprint of most buildings whereas, each cubic metre of timber used in this project has 800kgs of carbon locked into it”, commented AECOM Buildings Structures Leader, Marc Colella.

“Cross Laminated Timber is a modern material ideally suited to modern developments like The Gardens and one that is sustainable and that will create a better living environment for all its residents”, said Colella.

As the industry discovers the unique capabilities of CLT, we will no doubt see this kind of construction becoming a convincing choice for medium to mid-rise developments of the future.