Leading Melbourne architecture firm March Studio is partnering with students from the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University on a futuristic timber high-rise model.

The 1:15 scale model of the timber tower will feature individual apartments constructed offsite and shipped in modular form to the building site to be craned into a timber frame.

March Studio director Rodney Eggleston believes that the idea could soon be feasible thanks to advances in the construction of tall timber buildings. The concept evolved out of the issue of housing affordability, and how it could be addressed with a flat-pack module that could be made cost-effectively in a factory and deployed to another area.

“We’ve now extended that idea so that potentially you could bring them together to create a tower or a vertical village.

“We’ve invited the students to imagine how they might fit out the modules in different ways.”

Second-year architecture student Gemma Borra worked with two other Bond students to design a residential apartment and commercial module. The residential unit is designed to accommodate a multi-generational household of two grandparents, two parents and two kids in a space of 92 square metres, says Borra.

“Our commercial module is a library and herb garden and we came up with the idea of growing tea in the herb garden so you can have a cup of tea while you read your book.”

Fellow student Blake Mills said the concept could revolutionise apartment living by allowing people to build their own unique house in an apartment setting.

This is the seventh year the school is running the event, says head of the Abedian School of Architecture, Professor Chris Knapp. Students from first-year to Masters levels have been teamed up for the project.

“We've found that what students learn in these three days, they keep using throughout the year.

“It's a great way for us to bring new energy and new knowledge into the school really quickly and have it permeate the entire student experience.”

High-rise timber structures built using sustainably harvested timber are finding increasing acceptance across the world – an 18-storey tower in Norway is currently the tallest timber building in the world. Australia’s tallest timber building is a 10-storey office in Brisbane. The world’s tallest modular hotel is being constructed in New York with the hotel rooms for the 26-storey structure built in Poland.

Timber towers could go as high as 200-300 metres, thanks to the advancement in glues, Eggleston said. While the cost is prohibitive in Australia, it is coming down as more players enter the market, he added.

The Bond University students’ scale model will go on display at Melbourne Design Week from March 12-22.

Caption: Bond University architecture students Blake Mills, Gemma Borra and Ellen Flood in front of a scale model of a futuristic timber high-rise designed in conjunction with Melbourne architecture firm March Studio. Picture: Cavan Flynn