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Glulam on the BIG Stage – Our Longest Beams Ever!

22 March 2021
University of Waikato, The Pā – TimberLab Project Update March 2021

CREDITS: Client: The University of Waikato / Project Manager: Greenstone Group /
Architect: Architectus & Jasmax / Engineer: Beca / Constructor: Hawkins

Over the past few months, the TimberLab manufacturing team have been focusing their efforts on the delivery of components for one of NZ’s largest and most complex Glulam projects to date.

“The Pā will provide a new main entrance to the campus, a student hub (including food outlets and social learning spaces) and a new University marae. The Pā will strengthen the overall capability of the campus for University and community events and activities”. Source: The University of Waikato.

Structural Form

The structure is inspired by the form of a traditional Wharenui (meeting house); large Glulam portal frames work together with concrete shear walls to form the building entrance at ground floor level. Long Glulam roof rafters extend out from the apex of the Wharenui portal structure in multiple directions making for an impressive scale of roof structure. Glulam columns support the roof structure at the facade line around the perimeter of the building. Mass timber elements combined with concrete and structural steel components provide a hybrid structure for the various spaces surrounding the Wharenui.

TimberLab worked alongside the project team from concept design stage as an ECI partner. By providing early input, we helped the team to design with prefabrication and construct-ability in mind.

A strong focus on prefabrication meant a large amount of work in 3D modelling, BIM coordination and drawings of hundreds of pages of both working and shop drawings in preparation for manufacture and construction. Attention to detail is key when draughting for manufacture, with CNC machines detailing the parts to mm accuracy exactly as drawn in the model. With no room for error, the quality management of the modelling and ECI process was critical to project success.

Sixty-Plus Years’ Experience on Show Like Never Before

TimberLab’s vast experience is key in delivering this project; our ability to not only accurately model but to then CNC process and prefabricate hundreds of large components to consistent tolerances is essential for efficiently built mass timber structures. The 36.4m long rafters for this project are the longest glulam members that TimberLab has made in our 60+ year history. Our large 5-axis CNC gantry’s ability to process such large members with complex connection detailing is unmatched in the southern hemisphere. With various other complex component shapes in this project such as cranked beams, tapered columns and various cambers to components, the knowledge and experience of the manufacturing team is vital to the successful delivery of projects of this scale.

We are now nearing completion of the CNC works for the project and are mid-way through the remaining prefabrication tasks of fitting brackets and fixings, sanding, coating and protective-wrapping of all components in preparation for delivery to site.

Mass Timber’s Sustainable Future

We are looking forward with excitement to seeing this structure being built over the coming year and paving the way for more mass timber projects being realised throughout NZ. With every new high-profile project completed, the public and design communities become more aware of the limitless design options mass timber presents. Working with mass timber helps us achieve a sustainable, carbon neutral future – a future TimberLab is proud to be a part of.

Source: TimberLab

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