Factors that influence design professionals when they use structural Timber in Australia.

Gregory Nolan M.Arch, B.Arch (Hons), Timber Research Unit, School of Architecture & Urban Design, University of Tasmania Betty Truskett M. Ed.Studs, Education and Research Consultant

While Australian researchers produce considerable technical output on timber engineering, timber is not a dominant building material outside the domestic construction sector in Australia. While proven technical solutions are available, they are not the first choice for most practising building designers. This paper reports on research into the factors that influence Australia’s building design professionals when they make decisions about using timber as a structural material in non domestic construction. Three professional groups were studied: architects, structural engineers and quantity surveyors and their opinions gauged by qualitative and quantitative means. In all, almost 250 practising professionals were interviewed.

The research confirms that the use of timber in complex or sophisticated building is restricted and that building professionals do not use timber as much as they could. The considerable variation in the use of structural timber between Australian states is documented as is the relative importance the various professions place on different criteria. Architects view timber differently to structural engineers. Nevertheless, both groups use it for similar reasons; its aesthetic character, its workability and its economy. However, a perceived lack of effective support from industry and a general lack of confidence in timber design and documentation skills are shown to be impediments to its increased use.

Issue 4 Volume 9

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