The big takeaway was making sure you’re thinking about using timber from day 1, not day 61, brilliantly summed up by Alain McKinney of Precinct Properties as “Are we designing a timber building or squeezing timber into a building?”. Considering all elements of the structure at the early concept design stage was something every speaker called for. Along with a universal push to develop the concept appropriate for the timber system being used – not just steel or concrete design with members changed.
Of course, there is no progress without going outside the comfort zone and the challenges that come with it. The honest discussions around where extra design and management is needed in using timber in hybrid construction and where further help is required to push forward were necessary and stimulating – these included the enduring conversations and seeking of solutions around timber moisture and shrinkage, site materials protection and moisture management, through to the consideration of fire at the early design stages, during construction and in the final building.
If ever there was a reminder of the reason why Timber Unlimited exists and the industry issues standing in the way of change, it’s this. If we’re going to unlock the limitless potential of timber and build belief in hybrid building possibilities, together, we need to stop getting weighed down talking about the problems and start working towards solutions.
Over the last year at Timber Unlimited, we’ve been rolling our sleeves up and doing just that. We’re not going to have all the answers overnight, but we have started down the path of ensuring greater clarity and certainty when it comes to fire safety guides and resources.
Particularly, in recent months, we have been consulting mass timber suppliers, industry organisations, fire engineers, FENZ, MBIE, TDS, SESOC, and structural engineers to create New Zealand-specific guidance on the fire-safe use of timber in buildings. Off the back of this, we’ve developed a “Mass Timber Guidance Document – Recommended Supplement to C/AS2 and C/VM2”. Available for download here. You’ll also find a range of international fire safety resources and selected papers from the World Conference on Timber Engineering 2023, and the Fire Safety Journal. Further to this, the “NZ Commentary to the Fire Safe Use of Wood in Buildings – Global Design Guide” will be completed and made available via the Timber Unlimited website in early 2024.
Advanced guidelines will provide recommendations and greater clarity to assist fire engineering designers and approval authorities in achieving consistent designs and consent approvals in accordance with the NZ Building Code - all underpinned by international trends and recent research results. In addition, Timber Unlimited will complete and publish towards the end of the first quarter of 2024 new best practice guidance on moisture management in timber design and construction.
Lastly, on 19 March 2024, the next of our Advanced Timber Workshops - invite-only events with industry leaders collaboratively problem-solving and creating a body of expert advice for the greater good - will be exploring Fire Safety and how timber builds can be better designed for the protection of the occupants and adjacent properties. Watch this space for the latest thinking and ways how timber can indeed handle the heat coming out of this session.
This is just the beginning. Whatever the barriers that need to be addressed and wherever help is needed, we are committed to engaging and collaborating with the industry and relevant expertise to help build our hybrid further together. From continuing to tackle specific pain points such as fire safety and moisture management. To more general, everyday guidance documents highlighting the hybrid lessons learned, pitfalls of design and its restrictions. To clearly focusing on barriers in design and materials, and design concepts specific to the region of the building and how to practically solve this.
No one can innovate alone. We’d love you to join us on our journey and be part of the solution. Whatever questions, challenges, or ideas you may have, or whatever assistance you need, we’re here to help.
Let’s talk timber.
Let’s talk hybrid solutions.