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Timber design enjoying a comeback

Press Release - New Zealand Timber Design Society – 30 June 2006

Timber design enjoying a comeback - Architects and engineers flock to technical events.

Timber design and manufacturing companies are hoping that a recent shift in attitudes to building with timber design features is going to continue. Speaking at a recent technical seminar series President of the Timber Design Society Ken McIntosh said, “It’s pleasing to see that recent successes with timber design buildings are enjoying considerable public profile which in turn is helping to boost the confidence of architects and engineer to try new designs with timber.”

“The latest award winning buildings like the Fale Pasifica Centre and the Manukau Events Centre have really shown how timber can shine and that the designs have really made the grade in larger commercial projects - and it fits the bill exactly for the cultural expression that the architects were looking for in these two big projects in the Auckland environment.”

The Society has long been championing the use large timber structures and specially engineered spans to achieve pleasing design for commercial clients, but now heightened awareness with the New Zealand public about the environment and sustainability means even better times ahead for timber. “We’ve always had a core group of committed timber designers who have cut their teeth in this business, and know from long experience where timber really fits well,” said McIntosh, “but our timber design technical group, which is affiliated to the national body for professional engineers, IPENZ, is pleased to be seeing increased demand for new design information to a wider audience of younger architects, engineers and specifiers.”

McIntosh said the timing couldn’t be better, “The New Zealand experience for engineers in training with wood design has been limited with other materials often receiving more attention but the tide is turning,” added McIntosh. “In the last year or two our efforts have begun to pay off – and we’ve been fortunate to be working with common sense practical politicians like Jim Anderton both in

his role as Economic Development Minister and more recent as Minister of Forestry. As a result the timber design profession is about to gain far more exposure to engineers and architects at universities with government agreeing to fund professorships in wood design at both Auckland and Canterbury Universities.”

One of the high flyers gaining real traction with his timber designs has been Chris Howe of high-profile architecture consultants, Bossley Howe Architects. Well-known for his trademark series of timber designed home for the national iconic Lockwood brand in recent years, Howe was the keynote speaker at the recent timber design events in Auckland and Rotorua. Howe is adamant that timber and sustainability are going to continue to grow in demand as clients become more environmentally conscientious. The message on global warming has got out there and increasingly clients are coming to understand the timber in commercial design and buildings is a naturally-friendly choice and an excellent materials choice as well.

Howe was the lead speaker in two full-days of technical sessions this week which saw architects and engineers being exposed to case studies highlighting the key advantages of both treated timber in design and engineered wood products like laminated veneer lumber which allow designers to extend clear spans inside buildings while adding appealing timber surfaces throughout many of the new building designs.”

Working wth large glue-laminated sections for the whole of his professional career the 75-year-old Mr McIntosh concedes that he has always believed in the natural advantages of timber in design, “but it is quite pleasing”, he adds “to see younger architects and other professionals now understanding the real strengths of designing working and living spaces in wood, and to have gained the support and enthusiasm of a practical MP like Jim Anderton just rounds it out nicely.”


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