This issue’s news coverage includes stories on the latest engineered timber building slated for Melbourne’s Docklands and an update on an innovative CLT operation in Tasmania. Both are markers for the growing uptake of mass timber and, as it happens, provide a neat segue to a new feature in this magazine; the Built Offsite Forum Series. The series, to appear regularly in written and video format across our print and digital platforms, is designed to drill down into specific areas of the prefab / offsite sector. Forum 1 took place on 14 June with a fine grained look at mass timber. A sustainable material attracting attention throughout the industry for its benefits, from speed to efficiencies and cost savings, mass timber is also renewable and has one of the lowest energy consumptions of any building material across its lifecycle. How can its uptake be encouraged? Where are the pain points in the supply chain? What are the blockages in driving greater acceptance? See page 15 for coverage of the forum, where expert panellists tackle these questions and more.
Turning to another innovative material that is steadily disrupting construction norms, the emerging ‘smart panel’ sector offers numerous advantages, from in-built insulation and its attendant sustainability gains, to speed and efficiency in construction. Our feature starting on page 21 makes sense of the multiple product variations available in this category, their benefits and applications.
Finally, a resounding shout-out for the prefabAUS North America tour in June. Encompassing a spectrum of companies and organisations across varied states and centres, the trip was well received by participants, and stimulated useful reflections on a market featuring thought-provoking differences and similarities to our own. Initial tour coverage (p.33) provides an overview of key takeaways.■
Managing Editor Built Offsite
I’m pleased to report that the recent prefabAUS Study Tour to North America was highly rated by the group of 22 prefabAUS members who made the trip.
The six-day program, taking in San Francisco, Knoxville Tennessee and Toronto in Canada, featured expert presentations, live project installations and factory visits showcasing modular and panel methodologies, from minimal automation but high volume manufacturing to highly automated platforms servicing large scale townhouse and mid-rise residential projects.
The newly established Factory_OS in San Francisco was a tour highlight. The company’s first project, which we saw in progress, reflects the social conscience of the Factory_OS founders; a social housing project for the homeless.
Memorable presentations came from Carol Galante, Professor and Faculty Director at the Terner Centre for Housing Innovation at University of California Berkeley (and previously high level advisor to President Obama) and Karim Khalifa. Karim, International Keynote Speaker at the forthcoming prefabAUS conference, shared the latest developments in the Sidewalk Waterfront Toronto project to deliver a digital-enabled city of the future; he also led a tour around the 325 hectare project site.
The prefabAUS conference (http://www.prefabaus.org.au/conference-2018/) will include a discussion wrap on the North America Study Tour, while in other conference news, I’m pleased to confirm Adam Strong, Managing Director of Strongbuild as a speaker, focusing on early contractor engagement to optimise outcomes; Jamie Coe, Business Development Manager at Hutchinson Builders on prefabricated Healthcare solutions; and James MurrayParkes from the Monash University Technical Handbook Council on the upcoming ‘Design of Tall Timber Structures’ Handbook. David Tweedie, Director of Hayball, who leads sustainability and innovation, and Nick Strongman, CEO of Sensum (previously BHA) on Permanent Modular Schools, will also join the stage as key speakers.■