The capabilities of engineered-timber construction will be a major focus for this year’s Prefab Aus conference and it appears that it’s just in time.

As the organisation’s members gather for the third national conference in Sydney, a spate of prefab timber development is underway all over the country.

The Tzannes Associates-designed International House Sydney recently topped out at Barangaroo, and will become Australia’s first cross-laminated timber (CLT) commercial office building upon completion.

Macarthur Gardens, a three tower residential CLT project is also well underway and is already the largest CLT project ever to be undertaken in Australia.  The Gardens are being delivered by construction company Strongbuild who are also providing a 10-storey CLT tower as part of a separate luxury retirement village project at the western end of Sydney’s Norwest Business Park ‘Circa’ precinct designed by Jackson Teece.

The $65 million tower is the first of the development’s two main structures scheduled for completion in late 2017, with Strongbuild opting for CLT technology over traditional construction methods on account that it will save at least three months in construction time in addition to associated costs.

Strongbuild’s head office in Sydney is also built out of glulam and was designed by outspoken advocate for engineered timber construction James Fitzpatrick from Fitzpatrick + Partners.

Construction underway at Macarthur Gardens. Image: Fifth Estate

Strongbuild’s $65 million CLT tower for a luxury retirement village project is scheduled for completion in late 2017

Lendlease’s International House at Barangaroo recently topped out. Image: Tzannes/Instagram

It’s also no coincidence that the Principal Sponsor for 2016 Prefab Aus is XLam, a New Zealand-born CLT company who by mid-2017 will be mass-producing 60,000m3 of CLT annually out of its new Australian manufacturing plant in the Albury Wodonga region.

Depending on the value of XLam’s CLT and the company’s level of service, its manufacturing plant could be a welcomed resource for Australian designers and developers looking to incorporate CLT in their projects.

To date, no Australian CLT project has used Australian manufactured CLT with Strongbuild using Austrian company Binderholz to bring its product into the Australasian market and Lendlease previously using the KLH UK and Austria’s Stora Enso.

Both Strongbuild and Lendlease do have manufacturing facilities that are used to create the prefab components once the timber hits Australian shores. Strongbuild’s 8,000sqm facility is based in Sydney’s Baulkham Hills while Lendlease’s new Designmake prefab building components manufacturing arm recently opened in Western Sydney.

XLam’s ranks were recently bolstered by the hiring of former Aecom engineer and CLT design specialist Nick Hewson. Hewson is now the technical manager at XLam.

Strongbuild Managing Director Adam Strong and XLam’s Business Development Manager, Rob de Brincat will be presenting at the 2016 Prefab Aus conference as will a number of other prefab design experts and strategists.