New, innovative timber structural components and systems now offer alternative building-solutions to traditional concrete and steel structural systems. A detailed design study on a proposed new building in Christchurch demonstrates the relative merits of each material in a multi-storey commercial setting. Defined criteria give rise to an Optimal ‘Hybrid’ Design – using ‘the right material for the right application’ – where timber components and systems are selected for many structural elements and compares this to an All Timber design and a ductile structural system. The study demonstrates the financial implications on the overall construction cost of selecting different materials for different purposes and the cost premium of a ‘damage-resistant’ building over conventional Ductility 3 code requirements.
The study shows that in a commercial context, there is no single structural material – either timber, concrete or steel - that is appropriate in all circumstances and material selection is often subjective. The study was carried out by the University of Canterbury and Irving Smith Jack Architects Ltd. on behalf of the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).