A building expert wants the Auckland waterfront area to get this country’s first timber high-rise, saying the Wynyard Quarter or Britomart areas would be ideal for a significant wood tower.
Damian Otto, director of design and digital construction at Takapuna-based Tallwood, called for Auckland to go green and build a timber tower of up to 15 levels. That would showcase what could be achieved after technical advancements in timber construction, he said.
“I’ve heard suggestions of wood towers on a number of sites,” he said, naming the Quay Park area as well as the central business district but said nothing was definite and discussions only centred on plans, not finished design.
New Auckland towers are all being built in steel (the 39-level Commercial Bay) and concrete (The Pacifica at 57 levels).
But Otto said that could change.
“Wynyard is the best candidate for a wood building because it’s reclaimed land and above the water. Wood buildings are lighter, so you can build more for less. Timber buildings also perform well in earthquakes. It’s only recently that the timber technology has caught up with materials and availability. There’s going to be a doubling of demand,” Otto said of the type of materials needed to build wood high-rises.
He saw Lendlease’s new wood International House in Sydney during its construction in 2016 and said that had led the way in Australasia. It was now time for us to follow.
“International House is a seven-storey office building manufactured predominantly from engineered timber. It is a great example of the benefits of building tall with timber. There is no reason why we can’t follow in our neighbour’s footsteps and build beautiful, quality, timber buildings such as this one,” Otto said.
Last year, property mogul Sir Bob Jones said he planned to take the timber industry to new heights by erecting the world’s tallest wooden office building in central Wellington on the Leader’s Building on Featherston St: a 12-storey 52m block due to be completed later this year.
Otto said wooden building offered advantages over concrete and steel high-rises because not only were they lighter, making them ideal for reclaimed land, but they could be dismantled and the materials recycled.
Lendlease had designed and built International House with longevity in mind, he said.
“In the words of architect, Alec Tzannes, they reached for a design that would weather well, be long lasting and attractive because ‘buildings that are not considered beautiful tend to be demolished, so beauty is at the essence of our concerns about a lower carbon future’,” Otto said.
International House, although a relatively small project by Lendlease standards, had huge significance in this part of the world, Otto said.
A Tokyo skyscraper is set to become the world’s tallest wooden building. Sumitomo Forestry is planning W350, a 70-storey block made 90 per cent of wooden materials, due to be completed in 2041 and to mark 350 years of that business.