BVN will recruit several new age engineered timber products from around the world for its upcoming alteration and addition of a 1970s concrete building in NSW.

The team will refurbish and extend an old Telstra training centre building at North Strathfield in Sydney, which has become the new home for the Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School.

The project is the second stage in the total redevelopment of the building, the first being the fitout of the ground floor which opened in April 2015 for students in kindergarten to year 2.

The second stage of the project is much larger and concerns all of the building’s levels and its external skin. Upon completion, the building will be home to 450 primary school students and it has been earmarked as a template for the future of inner city school designs.


But while renders of the finished school are striking, and its claim to be an environmentally-friendly model for adaptive reuse in the context of our growing cities is sound, it is the building’s structural composition and interior finishes that are currently making headlines.

The building has been called the first Australian school of the timber age and will be fit with a new Glulam portal frame, cross laminated timber (CLT) walls and a unique CLT slab/acoustic ceiling system.

All indications from BVN are that it will look to Europe to source the timber which, including the shipping of materials, is expected to dramatically reduce overall build time for the project.


Join.jpgThe Glulam portal frame system (picture above in red) will be sourced from Swiss engineered timber company Neue Holz who will ship them pre-cut and assembly-ready for easy erection by the project’s builders. The pieces will be joined using modern plug connections developed in-house by Neue Holz called ‘GSA Technology’(pictured right).

The GSA system comprises a set of plugs and steel rod connectors which are adhered to the Glulam with epoxy resin to create a precise high-performing join which, according to Neue Holz, will only account for a reduced efficiency of 'η = 0.80' at the connection.

Neue Holz will also coordinate the shop drawings between the architect and suppliers of other engineered timber elements which will included CLT walls from Austrian giant KLH and special CLT slab/acoustic ceiling system from a German company called Lignotrend (highlighted in red below).

The Lignotrend ceiling system is unique to Australia and is an all-timber structural cassette with an acoustic performance layer on its ceiling surface. It is made from CLT for structural reasons and comes with services housings and insulation layers.



Besides the environmental sustainability of the engineered timber, primarily from timber’s ability to store carbon, BVN has pointed to new research surrounding occupant health and behaviour to justify its use of timber in a school building environment.

A study conducted by the Human Research Institut in Austria reveals the many significant benefits of timber structures for school students. The research was based on four classrooms featuring timber construction, with psychophysiological measurements carried out on 52 pupils from timber classrooms and standard classrooms across a school year.

Significant differences were observed in the health parameters of students from the timber and standard classrooms. Students in the timber classes exhibited decreased heartbeats, revealing reduced school-related stress levels.

This research mirrors a report commissioned by Planet Ark in 2014 which found that exposure to wood products and interiors could create similar health benefits to those created by spending time in nature.

Released in the lead up to World Wood Day on Saturday March 21, the ‘Wood – Housing, Health, Humanity’ report explored numerous studies analysing the health and well-being benefits of wooden interiors in homes, businesses, and places of learning and healing.