Timber high-rise tower mooted for Auckland: suggestions on a number of sites

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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.

Source:

  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald

 

57-storey giant set to tower over Auckland

auaHengyi Pacific, the company planning a 57-level tower in downtown Auckland, has already built two Melbourne super-towers and is well under way with a third. And now it has big plans for its site here. Although many Auckland apartment projects have been cancelled before construction began, Hengyi – one of Australasia’s largest high-rise unit specialists – appears set on going ahead. The $300 million Pacifica project would be New Zealand’s tallest apartment tower. Construction is due to start next month, near Auckland’s waterfront.

Dean Fossey, a Hengyi Pacific director who is based in Melbourne but comes to Auckland every fortnight or so, this month showed what the company has done across the Tasman, and revealed more detail of its Auckland plans. “By March next year you’ll be starting to see the structure rising,” he said. Features of Hengyi’s two existing Melbourne towers give an indication of some of the elements planned for the Auckland boutique hotel/apartment tower, on a site between Commerce St and Gore St, a block from the waterfront in the Britomart area.

Hengyi’s first Melbourne project was The William, an office block conversion of two adjacent buildings – a 23-storey tower on William St and a 21-storey building in Little Bourke St. That has an outdoor pool and a hotel. That was followed by the Light House project on Elizabeth St in the Melbourne CBD. The newly opened 69-level, 607-apartment tower is distinctive for its colour and angular floor plates. It has almost a Rubik’s Cube look, all angles, colours and jutting points, making it stand out strongly on the city skyline. Melbourne developers are not afraid of colour – a big difference to Auckland. Elenberg Fraser were the architects and Multiplex Constructions built it.

And Hengyi is now working on Swanston Central, designed by the same architect, a 72-level, 1039-apartment project nearby at 168 Victoria St in Melbourne’s Carlton neighbourhood. In fact, level 69 of Light House provides a bird’s eye view of Multiplex’s progress on Swanston Central. On the ground floor of his offices on Collins St in Melbourne’s CBD, Fossey has models of The William and Swanston Central. Also based in that office is Hengyi chairwoman and founder Min Wang, originally from China, and director Lu Xing, also originally from China but in Melbourne for more than 20 years. Both had returned this month from a trip to Tibet, where they visited temples and viewed Mt Everest, said Xing, sporting Tibetan wrist beads.

Aged in her late 40s, Wang is said to be a billionaire as a result of developing buildings in China. Her CV shows she has an MBA from Beijing University. Her partner, Liang Chen, is Hengyi president but while she lives in Australia, he remains in China. Hengyi is affiliated with mainland Chinese developer Shandong Hengyi. Other Hengyi Pacific directors are Jeff Wang, Fossey and Hengyi’s boss on the ground in New Zealand, Liz Scott, who is the company’s general manager (NZ). Simon Manley is Hengyi’s development manager.

Fossey said car parking efficiencies were one of the features planned for the big Auckland tower. “We don’t dig a lot of holes,” he said, pointing to just two basement levels at The William and two at Swanston Central. “We’re not big on basement digging.” Stacking systems maximised car parking: at the newly opened Light House, there are just 158 parking spaces over seven levels. “This is how we get away from digging a hole.” Two car parking lifts are planned for The Pacifica, with robotic-style car stackers. Residents will drive into a dock, leaving their vehicle on a turntable. The car will then be remotely moved into place. Fossey said Hengyi had examined high-tech car parking systems in Germany and Singapore. “We just use the [car] lift like a passenger lift. Car dependency in Melbourne has diminished.”

In Auckland, ground works for the project will involve boring for piles and pouring concrete for the foundation. The skyscraper itself will be built of concrete – in contrast to the steel-framed Commercial Bay project, now rising nearby – with a double-glazed glass curtain wall. Exterior balconies will be on the lower levels. “Light House has balconies up to about level 40 but it’s not possible above that. It’s a decision we make project-by-project,” Fossey said. The now-rising Swanston Central will have exterior balconies up to about level 24, he said. “But Pacifica will be on a site more exposed to the water than the Melbourne projects are,” Fossey said. Hengyi’s Melbourne projects are far from the city’s tallest. For example, Multiplex is building Australia 108 in the city’s Southbank area, a residential tower that will be 319m tall, not far short of Auckland’s 328m Sky Tower. That Melbourne super-tower is due to open in 2020, and will have 1105 apartments on 100 levels, says Multiplex. Fossey said Aucklanders had welcomed Hengyi’s arrival and were “more welcoming than Sydney or Brisbane”, where the developer has also looked for work. “Going into Auckland, people are interested in what we’re doing, trying to understand it.”

But will the huge Pacifica project flood the market for apartments? In a study, Colliers International found 1391 new apartment units – including those at Pacifica – in the CBD, 961 on the city fringe and 1443 in suburban areas. Half the units are under construction, but building has not started on the other half. Pete Evans, Colliers’ residential project marketing national director, said next year would see the highest number of Auckland apartments completed in more than a decade – but not enough to meet demand, and only a year’s supply. “In major cities with population growth, we would expect supply to be anywhere between 12 to 24 months. Most apartment projects take two to three years to build, so the current under supply will remain in the foreseeable future,” said Evans. “Auckland’s population growth, and banks restricting funding, is not assisting the needed supply of new apartments.”

Source:

  • NZ Herald
  • Anne Gibson

Commercial Bay – Auckland

Source: P Precinct

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