Tom Roe

Bates Smart hits the heights in timber

Jo Smit
26 Nov 2018

Australia’s largest engineered timber commercial building to date has opened in Brisbane. Bates Smart’s design for developer Lendlease’s 10 storey, 45 metre tall office complex, called 25 King, showcases innovation in timber design and construction.

The design clearly expresses its exposed timber structure to the building’s transparent envelope, promoting a warm and natural workplace environment within the open plan building. The structure combines Glulam (glued laminated timber) and cross laminated timber (CLT), a sustainable solution that boasts a reduced carbon footprint and locks sequestered carbon within the timber structure.

 

The building is part of the 22 hectare Brisbane Showgrounds regeneration district. Raised on exposed timber V-columns and with the south facade expressed as a verandah of engineered timber, the building covertly references the wooden vernacular of the Queenslander building type, as well as nodding to the historic pavilions of the Showgrounds district.

 

The building has nine levels of open-plan office space, serviced via a north-facing side core. These are balanced above a ground floor shaded timber colonnade with cafés and restaurants, which open up the building as part of the public realm. 
 
Internally, the use of an exposed CLT timber slab for ceiling soffits has eradicated the need for a suspended ceiling system. This opens up the floorplates to a lofty ceiling height and creates a warmer interior aesthetic with softer surfaces and acoustics.

 

The structure and flexible floorplates evolved from research and testing of engineered timber typologies. It employs a 6 metre by 8 metre grid, in terms of both optimum distribution of columns and ceiling heights, which are determined by the span of the Glulam ceiling beams (building services ducts run parallel without the need to penetrate). The arrangement of columns creates a more intimate open plan scale, while allowing flexible and efficient spatial organisation of office floors. It also minimises the size of the exposed Glulam columns, allowing them to register almost as joinery rather than structural elements. 

 

Philip Vivian, Bates Smart director, said the project, “We know that people want to connect to nature, and using timber on the exterior and interior of buildings helps complete the connection, making people feel more at ease within the built environment.”

 

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Photo credit: Tom Roe

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