Challenges and solutions in the design of a 10 storey CLT building

Australia has joined the world in pushing the boundaries of timber construction. In recent years several tall all timber buildings have demonstrated the significant advantages of mass timber construction, especially in multi-unit, multi-level residential buildings. Recent modifications to the National Construction Code of Australia have provided a deemed-to-satisfy pathway for timber structures of up to 25 meters (or 8 stories), further accelerating the adoption of tall timber buildings. As these buildings become more commonplace, it is natural that architects and clients begin to push the boundaries of structural form. This leads to increasing spans, irregularities and openings. One such structure is a ten storey aged care facility currently under construction in Sydney, Australia. The entire structural system is composed of engineered wood, predominantly of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), with the exception of the steel framed balconies, sitting on a two storey reinforced concrete base. The architectural design required large open spaces and expansive glazed façades. Economies gained from importing the CLT panels from Europe limited the design team in possible panel dimensions. These challenges meant that innovative solutions and design approaches were required, supported by learnings from past projects, both in Australia and around the world. This paper provides an overview of the design challenges and discusses a range of solutions to issues including the incompatibility of ‘standard’ European brackets with Australasian architectural layouts, modelling of limited size wall panels, analysis of diaphragm response and problems of floor dynamics. A collaborative design team ensured that these challenges were overcome, enabling what will be one of Australia’s most exciting mass timber buildings.

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