A high-rise built with a timber structural frame

Flipping through the property section of the Australian Financial Review a few days ago (28/2/2011), this project being developed at the former Carlton United Breweries site in the north of Melbourne’s central business district caught my eye. The project is called Delta, a ten level apartment building being developed by Grocon who is well known for developing and constructing Melbourne’s Eureka Tower – the tallest building in Melbourne and one of the tallest in the southern hemisphere.

Delta, a passive house design to be constructed using timber. (Source: Architecture & Design)

What’s unique about this structure is that the contractors (also Grocon), are attempting to have the structure supported entirely by timber above the bottom couple of floors. Grocon is calling this design “passive house”, reflecting the fact that the soft-wood timbers from which the building will be constructed from is natural and not a material that emits carbon dioxide emissions in its creation – unlike concrete and steel.

The building will also heat and cool itself as the design will be insulated and the timbers will not absorb and release heat into the building in the way that other materials such as steel and concrete do. As a result, the building will reduce energy consumption in both the construction and operational stages and is expected to be carbon neutral. If built, Delta would become the tallest timber structure of its kind in the world.

The passive house design has been in use across Europe for about 20 years now, but has never before been attempted in Australia. Because of this, the specially manufactured and polished timbers will likely be imported from Europe. With carbon pricing looking a real possibility of being introduced in Australia, designs such as these may become more common.

Oh, and by the way, the soft-wood timbers are meant to be fire proof!


Australian Financial Review

Architecture & Design


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