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First, there was Forte. Six years after the completion of its inaugural timber structure in Australia, Lendlease has committed to timber buildings in all of its new development precincts.                            

“We are looking for opportunities to showcase timber at all of our major precincts around Australia,” building chief Dale Connor told the Australian Financial Review.

“We have been progressing our knowledge of the timber product. We feel what timber brings to a commercial product—for both ownership and tenant—is the way of the future. We are working out the limits to what this material can do," he says.

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International House Sydney designed by Tzannes.

And the multinational group is poised to deliver. It recently announced that planning approval had been granted for a second engineered timber office building in Sydney’s Barangaroo South precinct.

Known as Daramu House, which means “tree house” in the aboriginal Sydney Language (also known as Dharug and Eora), the project will be Lendlease’s sixth timber building in Australia, and the third to come out of the company’s precision timber manufacturing centre in Western Sydney.

The new building, featuring six floors of commercial floor space and approximately 680m2 of new retail, is expected to be completed in late 2019, and will be constructed from cross laminated timber (CLT) and glue laminated timber (glulam).

CLT and glulam is also heavily featured in the developer’s $140 million 25 King Street project at the Brisbane Showgrounds, set to be the world’s tallest and largest engineered timber office building. 

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A first look at 25 King.

In just 12 months, the Bates Smart-designed project has already delivered six out of nine floors—a speed aided by the use of prefabricated modules for each floor that were pre-assembled at ground height, then lifted into place like a Lego structure.

Designed to be carbon neutral through the construction phase and completely recyclable at the end of its life, 25 King is targeting a 6-star Green Star Design and As Built rating. This means it will use 67 per cent less electricity and 55 per cent less potable water, while the pre-formed engineered timber construction means no waste will be created. The team is also targeting a WELL Core and Shell rating.

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Approximately 112,500 screws/bolts are required for the construction of 25 King. The project team has allowed two days to pre-assemble the modules in each floor cycle.

The timber sourced for 25 King comes from Spruce trees, an exceptionally fast-growing species found in Austria. According to Lendlease, the time it will take in the Austrian forests to grow back the timber used on 25 King is as little as six hours in total.

A DECADE-LONG JOURNEY

The road to Lendlease’s new commitment to timber buildings in Australia began in 2009, when the team began exploring lighter weight construction alternatives for a site to be built on poor ground conditions.

After evaluating almost 100 systems over the next two years, Lendlease selected CLT as its preferred solution—one that would come to be featured in several of its most notable projects.

Three years later, the developer would deliver Forte, Australia’s first CLT building, then the tallest in the world. In 2013, Library at the Dock in Melbourne, the first 6 Star Green Star as built Community building in Australia, was completed.

Then came the in-house team dedicated to timber structures, as well as DesignMake, the manufacturing arm creating prefabricated building components, including cross-laminated timber (CLT) framework. Meanwhile, Lendlease continued to deliver more timber projects, including in Europe and the US.

“The fascinating thing about building with timber is that its strength is akin to concrete and steel, it can be produced economically in a factory environment and most importantly boasts a plethora of sustainability benefits,” GM for Lendlease Building, Tony Orazio .