Melbourne will soon be home to Australia’s first public cross-laminated timber (CLT) building, the Docklands Library and Community Centre.

The urban project, a collaborative development between Melbourne City Council, Lend Lease and Places Victoria, will see a three-storey library and civic centre erected upon a heritage wharf originally built in 1879.

Architectural firm Hayball carried out the design and documentation of the project, while Clare Design was commissioned for the design.

The sustainable performance of the 18-metre building was crucial to the design which will see 574 cubic metres of CLT as the primary structural material, combining engineered timber and reclaimed wood.

According to Clare Design, CLT technology will be applied to the upper floor slabs, roof, columns, beams and core wall construction while the height and placement of the building directly responds to wind mitigation strategies to protect the new public space, Dock Square and reduce the effects of downwash from surrounding towers.

CLT is becoming widely recognised in the built environment for its integral stability and environmental credentials along with its capability to compete with conventional concrete and steel materials.

As a digitally designed building material, CLT is made of bonded, cross-laminated single layers of timber, with the “crossing” element making the material structurally sound.

The timber is then bonded with formaldehyde-free and non-toxic adhesives to make the wood panels with the fabrication technique allowing faster and more efficient construction.

Library construction

Library construction, May 2013

The application of CLT is just one of the sustainable initiatives that will support Docklands Library in its aim to achieve carbon neutrality and a 5 Star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

Hayball has also reported that the Docklands Library building will feature an advanced passive ventilation system for enhanced natural ventilation.

Docklands Library will be located at a new Bourke Street and Collins Street intersection and will be a highly digital learning environment. Along with the traditional library collection, the space will include a recording studio, creative editing suites, community areas and a performance venue that will hold up to 120 people.

The building is part of an urban master plan of Victoria Harbour with its design said to both reflect the Docklands maritime history and new generation of the community-oriented area.

Forté Apartments

Forté Apartments

This will be the Docklands’ second CLT project following Lend Lease’s development of the world’s tallest timber residential building, the 10-storey, 32-metre Forté Apartments.

Forté opened earlier this year and earned a five star Green Star rating for its 760-panel cross-laminated timber construction and sustainable initiatives throughout the structure. Wood was used more than concrete for its façade and its walls, floors and ceilings were also made of solid timber.

“CLT is one of the most significant forms of innovation in construction technology that Australia has seen in many years,” said Andrew Nieland, business development manager for Lend Lease’s Timber Solutions Business. “It is transforming the building and construction industry by introducing a more efficient and environmentally friendly construction process.”

Design Sketch Clare Design & Haybal

Design Sketch Clare Design & Haybal

CLT for the Docklands Library will come from Finland’s Stora Enso Building and Living.

“The Australian construction industry is well used to working with wood, and CLT has recently been gaining a lot of attention from construction companies due to its many advantages,” said Stora Enso senior vice president Matti Mikkola.

“The Docklands Library and Community Centre is an excellent example of how wood, and especially CLT, can deliver added value as a construction material. CLT can reduce construction time by one-third, and wood has the advantages of being a sustainable construction material.”

Cross Laminated Timber

Cross Laminated Timber

The centre is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013 and to open its doors to the public by March 2014.