Delivered by the City of Melbourne, Lend Lease and Places Victoria, Library at the Dock is built with CLT and recycled hardwood,

A seminar hosted by Advantage Austria – the commercial arm of Austria’s Consulate General - on 1 May at Library at the Dock, Melbourne, highlighted the country’s unique legacy and role in timber cultivation and construction. Belinda Smart reports.

The seminar’s venue, Library at the Dock, is an apt exemplar of the extent to which Austria‘s know-how in timber construction has reached the Australian market. The library is the first public CLT building in Australia; Austria is widely regarded as the birthplace of CLT.

Highlights included an overview of the ‘Austrian story’ in terms of forestry and the use of timber in construction presented by Christoph Kulterer, Chairman of proHolz Austria, a working group dedicated to promoting Austria’s diverse timber industry.

Noteworthy is that “82 per cent of Austrian forests are owned by private individuals and Austria has a strict forestry law that makes it obligatory to forest owners to manage their forests sustainably.” In terms of wood stock per surface area, Austria is one of the leading countries in Europe. Each year 30.4 million cubic metres of wood regrow; equivalent to one cubic metre wood per second and about 2,160 single-family homes made of timber per day.

“In other words: every 40 seconds a timber house regrows in Austria’s forests.”

A key tool for planners and authorities is

Published by the Austrian Wood Research Institute together with proHolz Austria, it comprises an online database of 1,500 construction elements for walls, ceilings, roofs, etc. which also assesses these parts ecologically.

Initial work on CLT began in Germany and was continued by the technological university in Graz, Austria.

CLT technology officially launched in the mid-90s, when the first press for cross-laminated timber was built in Styria, southern Austria, under the aegis of Austrian CLT specialist KLH.

Worthy of note in terms of future projects is the world‘s highest office and hotel building. Comprising 24 storeys and of 84 m height, the HOHO, will be built in Vienna, with construction to be completed in 2018.

Kulterer, who as well as chairing proHolz, is CEO and President of Hasslacher Norica Timber exemplifies Austria’s forestry heritage. He hails from a family business founded in 1901, which grows and processes timber into a wide product range including but not limited to glue laminated timber, cross laminated timber, solid timber ceiling systems, special components and finger-joined structural timber. The company’s track record includes involvement in the roof of Melbourne University and International House, Sydney.

Meanwhile Lukas Grabner, a Structural Engineer at KLH, presented on Fire Safety in Structural Timber Buildings and also highlighted the launch of online portal klhdesigner. at. With English translation available, it features a range of tools to assist the design of timber constructions.

Focusing on the significant opportunities in timber construction for the Australian market, a presentation from Erkki Välikangas, Supply Chain Manager of Engineered Wood Products (AU/NZ) for Stora Enso Australia, looked at the topic: ‘Modern Timber Construction – Global Trends versus Australia.’

“… everything that’s made with fossil materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow. All divisions within Stora Enso drive innovations to make this happen, looking into different ways of utilizing the whole tree.”

Andreas Luzzi – CEO of Perth based company Laros Technologies, which consults, designs and supplies to the low-energy, high-performance building industry, summed up the seminar. He noted that Austria currently supplies 70-80% of world’s CLT (as at 2016) while projecting automation & 3D printing as possible future trajectories for the industry.

Meanwhile areas of concern included building health issues: interstitial dew-point, ventilation; timber protection from bacteria and funghi and seismic stability, he said.■

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