Technology helps wood displace steel and concrete

Tahlia HopkinsMediaRelease

Until recently, New Zealand developers had been slow to adopt the engineered timber structures in contrast to leaders in Australia, USA. Now, more engineers here are recognising engineered wood’s advantages with new building information modelling technology for designing commercial buildings.

In August a national conference on engineered wood for commercial and multi-residential building is set to attract hundreds of early adopters as New Zealand moves fast to catch up to our Australian neighbours in sustainable commercial buildings.

One distinct advantage is speed. Engineered wood buildings are erected much faster than traditional poured concrete slabs and on-site welded steel columns. The key to wood’s speed and accuracy comes from using new design and manufacturing software known as “building information modelling” (BIM). Engineered wood structures are ripe for using these highly accurate systems and automated machining technologies.

“Following trends in Australia and USA, the use of engineered wood is growing as BIM becomes more widely used by complete project teams – from engineers and architects right through to the trades,” says John Stulen, conference director for the 3rd Annual Changing Perceptions engineered wood conference on sustainable commercial building.

“The shorter project times have also caught the eye of all of leading trades contractors, especially when their people see BIM in action on a tall wood building project,” says Stulen.

“This year we are delighted that 100% of our conference case studies will be outlining New Zealand wood projects,” he adds.

The conference will include case studies for both wood and BIM:

  • The timber structure for a multi-story office complex that Sir Bob Jones commissioned, now under construction in downtown Wellington;
  • Naylor Love has completed the Otago Polytechnic student accommodation building and is soon to finish the new Nelson airport terminal;
  • Cross-laminated timber producer XLAM has joined forces with Housing Corporation to deliver emergency housing solutions faster than ever before;
  • Leading architects, Jasmax, designed a stunning apartment building – Merchant Quarter 2 – over a carpark in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

This national conference has grown since 2016. It now attracts a wide audience of architects, engineers, developers, quantity surveyors and specifiers, as well as building officials and leading specialist trades, focused on commercial buildings; like electricians and plumbers and heating/ventilating/air conditioning specialist and leading practitioners.

The Changing Perceptions Conference has full one-day programme on 28 August at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua. Early bird registration rates close Friday 20 July. The event begins with an evening reception on 27 August. Register now at: