Island Bay Community Town Hall


Beau Engelbrecht / Victoria University School Of Architecture And Design

12. Student design award

The Island Bay Community Town Hall project is an exploration of timber construction through a wholistic design process with the purpose of providing drier, warmer buildings without risk of mould growth as a near-future application for medium scale high performance timber buildings that the NZ timber construction industry can and should proceed with for the carbon reduction targets.

The selection of timber for this project was based on Wellington's seismic climate, the material's forgiving stress loads, the cheaper cost for collection and manufacturing of glulam structural elements, alongside the warm and natural nature of timber itself for a welcoming environment.

An arrangement of tall glulam 225x225mm columns which are anchored to a concrete footing foundation provide the vertical structural load capacity, alongside 88x315mm glulam split primary beams support the timber span suspended flooring and the 45° corner braces. Timber provides aesthetic features also, with the majority of the structural elements being exposed inside the building behind the envelope. This allows for the potential for community carvings or pyrography to decorate the internal structure.

The process behind this structural and material selection started with analyzing the concept building, and exploring through various materials such as steel, concrete, and timber alongside their strongest construction methods. The end result found timber to be far easier in terms of transportation, manufacturing, easy to work with, cost effective, and slightly more environmentally friendly. Having chosen timber, I studied platform framing and post and beam methods, to which I found the post and beam to be more a more aesthetically pleasing traditional construction and its exposed structural elements rather than covering their complexion. This was followed by investigating numerous envelope construction methods to suit the design.

The reason behind the glulam method was the difficult and costly issue of acquiring large timber spans or sizes, whereas glulam allows for many smaller spans of timber whether recycled or simply from scrap material on construction sites presents a environmentally and economy friendly alternative to dumping scrap, off-cut timber in landfills. 
The timber species consists of pine, due to its fast growing nature, relative ease of acquiring and manufacturing.

I've always found interest in how things are constructed with all the nitty-gritty details, and today in architecture and engineering I find it a shame that buildings tend to cover-up the structural elements rather than celebrating them into their design. For this project submission, I've made sure that the structural elements and timber construction is celebrated and revealed.