Timber Building Studies Group

The intention of the Timber Building Studies Group is to contribute to the general discussion about multi-level timber commercial buildings.

Interest in multi-storey timber buildings is expected to increase worldwide due to the environmental advantages of timber construction over concrete and steel. The manufacture of timber structures use about 40% of the energy required for concrete and steel structures, and timber is also carbon neutral.

The Timber Building Studies Group is made up of staff from NICAI's School of Architecture and Planning and includes: John Chapman, Senior Lecturer; Dr George Dodd, Head of Acoustic Testing Service; Assoc Prof Uwe Rieger; and Prof Andrew Barrie.

Research Activities

Systems for timber commercial buildings to six storeys

Timber buildings to a height of nine storeys have recently been built in Europe which rely on cross-laminated timber shear walls. The focus of our present research is "Can timber commercial buildings be developed with systems to resist horizontal wind and earthquake loads that allow more open and unrestricted space than shear walls?" Three types of timber horizontal load-resisting systems for commercial buildings have been compared.

Sound resistant timber floors

Developing sound resistant timber floors is important for achieving viable timber commercial buildings. Research is presently underway to evaluate the acoustic properties of a 190mm deep solid timber floor with a 65mm thick concrete topping. This floor arrangement has advantages including simple construction, good fire resistance, and avoiding cavities for rodents. Previously, a number of floors with timber joists and flooring panels have been tested and found to comply with the New Zealand acoustic requirements for commercial floors. To achieve mass the floor panels included a 70mm thickness layer of sand.

Physical properties of pinus radiata poles

Pinus radiata poles have the reputation of being a competent structural product. However, recent testing of joints using radiata poles indicated that the poles are not as physically strong as is indicated in the relevant New Zealand code, NZS3604. Preliminary strength testing of the current crop of poles has been carried out in association with Dr Bryan Walford of Scion.