This project identifies drivers for, and barriers to, the increased use of prefabricated timber building (PTB) systems in Class 2 to 9 commercial buildings, such as apartments, hotels, office buildings and schools.
PTB systems in Australia are in a formative stage and yet to achieve broad acceptance in the marketplace as a conventional method of building.
Opportunities for PTB systems can use timber’s well-established benefits such as high strength-to-weight ratio; design and construction flexibility; general environmental credentials including carbon sequestration; and prefabrication’s suitability for use on brown-field, restricted access and difficult sites and developments. In addition legislative constraints have now been largely removed (e.g. through changes to the 2016 National Construction Code).
An increase in large scale mid-rise prefabricated buildings, and with the increasing nationalisation and internationalisation of the top tier building companies, suggests market acceptance will grow as PTB buildings are seen as ‘normal’.
Canadian Conference on Building Science and Technology
On tall wood buildings, mass timber elements including CLT, NLT, glulam, and other engineered
components absolutely need to be protected from excessive wetting during construction. This requirement precludes the use of many conventional cladding systems unless the building is fully hoarded during construction.
The building enclosure and façade of UBC Tallwood House consists of an innovative prefabricated steel stud rainscreen curtain-wall assembly that is pre-insulated, pre-clad, and has factory installed windows. Design of connections and air and water sealing of panel joints and interfaces was carefully considered given the tall wood structure they were designed to protect. While steel studs were utilized in the panelized structure, feasible curtain-wall designs were also developed and prototyped for wood-framing, CLT, and precast concrete as part of the project.
Looking ahead, there will continue to be innovation in design and construction of fast and durable facades for taller wood buildings. New prefabricated panel designs incorporating CLT panels and connection technologies from unitized curtainwall systems are already being developed for the “next tallest” wood buildings in North America.