Rotorua-based timber products company Red Stag is about to embark on several building projects to showcase the potential of timber as a construction material in large-scale building projects.
Red Stag is New Zealand’s largest saw miller, employing 300 people with annual turnover of $220 million.
The building projects come ahead of plans to build a $35 million Cross-Laminated-Timber plant near its Whakarewarewa plant at Rotorua to be operating in 2019 and producing laminated panels up to 16.5m in length and 4.9m wide.
The first project will be five-level apartments at Clearwater Resort on the northern outskirts of Christchurch using cross laminated timber, and other panel products.
The Ministry of Primary Industry through its Primary Growth Partnership is covering about 8 per cent of the $20m Clearwater project.
After completion of the Clearwater project there will be two in Auckland – a retail and office complex, and a hotel.
The Government was already building three-story timber structures in Auckland as part of Housing New Zealand projects, managing director of Red Stag wood solutions, Jason Cordes, said.
Red Stag is also planning to expand its truss and frame operation located in Hamilton Airport’s industrial park which produces frames and trusses, floor cassettes and wall panels – designs which bring floor and wall construction together in components to speed up construction.
Cordes, said the New Zealand industry was on the verge of providing large scale laminated timber construction.
The opportunities offered in large-scale timber construction had already been demonstrated overseas, he said.
“In Christchurch we will showcase good architecture, good engineering and the best in acoustic properties and fire-resistance.
“We will make the whole process transparent so everyone can see how it is done and how economically viable timber can be.”
Cordes was a Waikato University-educated physicist who has worked overseas on large scale construction and said he had gained experience that would be used on timber structures in New Zealand.
According to Cordes, timber construction has advantages over concrete and steel, including speed of construction, ease of transport, relative lightness, and earthquake and fire resilience.
There was also evidence from psychological and physiological research concluding people found it more enjoyable to work and live in timber structures.
“This sort of construction is already heavily used in Europe.”
At 10 stories, the Lendlease Group’s 32 metre Forte Building in Melbourne was the first timber high-rise apartment structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
In Canada and the UK engineers were using laminated timber in high-rise buildings of more than 10 stories and buildings of more than 30 stories are on the drawing board.
In geologically shaky nations around the Pacific Rim, timber buildings resist the shock of earthquakes better than concrete and steel – as demonstrated by the former IRD building in Wellington which, although being near-new, was so damaged by the 2016 earthquakes it had to be demolished.
Source: Stuff News