Multi-Storey Residential Timber Buildings in Australia: Where is the education

The University of New South Wales
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Australasian Universities Building Educators Association (AUBEA), 37th AUBEA International Conference: Proceedings, 2012, pp. 163 - 170
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There is a growing interest in the construction of medium rise residential timber buildings internationally. A number of developers in Australia are seeking to complete the first structural timber residential building over four storeys high. The most widely advertised is a 10-storey timber apartment building in planning for the city of Melbourne, to be built to 'Passive House' standards. Amongst a number of challenges that face Australian building companies adopting this innovative construction technique is the lack of skill and experience in construction professionals that have worked on medium rise timber structural buildings. The current practice for the design of structural frame for residential buildings over four storeys high is in the use reinforced concrete and steel. Previous studies have revealed that although construction professionals have an interest in innovative timber structures their preference for working with concrete and steel is based on previous education and familiarity with the materials. Preliminary investigations have revealed that Australian university degree courses in Architecture, Civil/Construction Engineering and Construction Project Management receive little or no education on engineered timber medium rise residential buildings construction. This paper aims at investigating the current uptake, demand, opportunities and barriers for timber use in residential buildings. This paper presents the results of semi-structured interviews with Australian construction professionals and tertiary education providers and highlights the challenges they face in adapting to innovations entering their industry. Finally this paper presents strategies on how these two sectors can work cooperatively to incorporate multi storey timber building education into universities across Australia.
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