Wooden you know it - architecture and timber
Fri, 04/10/2013 - 00:02 Laurence Dragomir
During the formative years of my architectural education I had a lecturer for one of the obligatory technology subjects who used to make a very clear distinction between "wood" & "timber" - "You burn wood and you build with timber." The term "wood' actually refers to the materials natural state before undergoing a process of modification at the hands of man (or these days machine) to become the "timber" that you purchase down at your local Bunnings or Masters (depending on your allegiances).
Architects employ timber for many reasons - some for the warmth it brings to a space, others to provide a more 'natural' finish - a counter balance to manufactured glass and steel. During my time at Kerstin Thompson Architects we employed a timber veil, to the new Marysville Police Station in the form of alternating radial profiled battens, "recalling the local timber industry, surrounding forests and the heritage of timber buildings that were most strongly associated with Marysville's built past, now lost. The timber veil allowed for a much softer and permeable interface with the 'Marysville Heart' Park to the north - balancing transparency to public areas and the privacy required of certain aspects of Police operation. The Silvertop Ash battens were sealed but allowed to grey over time, giving the impression that the building has been there for longer than it has.
This softer, natural finish is becoming more prevalent throughout metropolitan Melbourne as an increasing number of architects incorporate timber into their designs, some going so far as to clad entire building exteriors as seen below.
Structurally, timber is a cheaper alternative to steel construction and up until more recently has been limited to buildings much smaller in stature - with precast concrete taking centre stage on high rise construction projects. Enter CLT (cross laminated timber veneer), a multi-layered,lightweight, loadbearing, solid timber panel that allows high rise buildings to go up in a fraction of the time usually required, best demonstrated in Melbourne by Lend Lease's Forte project at Docklands - the world's tallest timber apartment building and a precursor to the direction of the future wharf structures to come at the western end of Victoria Harbour's peninsula.
Above all else timber is visually stimulating and provides a welcome change to a typical Melbourne urban setting. With that in mind expand the images below to fully appreciate some of Melbourne's finest buildings which employ timber in one form or another. All images taken credited to Urban Melbourne staff.