Tzannes: tallest engineered-timber commercial building in the world

International House Sydney at Barangaroo

Well known Architectural firm Tzannes with projects across Sydney; including a residential and hotel project at Circular Quay, Bennelong Point, the Irving Street Brewery and the Dangrove Art Storage Facility for the collection of arts philanthropist Judith Neilson (currently in progress); has just completed the construction of International House Sydney at Barangaroo South. It is now the tallest engineered-timber commercial building in the world.

International House Sydney at Barangaroo

International House Sydney, Barangaroo South. Image: The Guthrie Project

The most striking aspect of International House Sydney is that six above ground levels are constructed entirely from engineered or cross laminated timber (CLT), including floors, columns, walls, roof, lift shafts, egress stairs and bracing bays, supported by a single ground retail level of conventional concrete structure. However it is not the first time CLT construction has been used in Australia; 200 George Street designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, and 5 King in Brisbane by Bates Smart, also make use of the material.

International House Sydney at Barangaroo

International House Sydney, Barangaroo South. Image: The Guthrie Project

Glue laminated (glulam) timber, developed in Switzerland is a structural engineered wood product comprising a number of layers of dimensioned wood bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant structural adhesives. It’s become a method to engineer strong and durable timber by using smaller pieces.

Steve F [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sheffield Winter Gardens. Photo by Steve F [CC BY-SA 2.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The process diminishes the impact of defects in timber like knots, and it has a lower embodied energy ranking than concrete and steel making it a highly sustainable material with very little production waste, while providing strength and versatility. High strength and versatility of the material allows for the production of wide beam spans without intermediate columns. It’s versatility also allows the same design flexibility as materials with higher embodied energy requirements.

International House Sydney at Barangaroo

International House Sydney, Barangaroo South. Image: The Guthrie Project

The use of intelligent green and sustainable construction practices, with the use of its unique structures, reveals a new aesthetic and beauty whose engineering has done away with the use of concrete that would have released tonnes if greenhouse gasses into the environment.

International House Sydney at Barangaroo

International House Sydney, Barangaroo South. Image: The Guthrie Project

Tzannes has taken advantage of the extensive use of wood by revealing the exposed beams – 500 cubic metres of sustainably grown and recycled timber were used in construction. They also demonstrate that the real estate market is ready to accept construction and development that have lower carbon emissions while at the same time proving that the market is ready to accept  the aesthetics and versatility of mass timber construction as a viable and exciting alternative to traditional building methods and traditions.

Who would not welcome these advantages as well as the warmth of wood in opposition to the coldness of concrete and steel?