Cross-laminated timber cuts building time by a third, has better thermal qualities than concrete, says Lend Lease chief as designs for Australia's first high-rise timber tower are revealed

LOS ANGELES , May 29, 2012 () – Lend Lease has started work on its AU$11 million, 10-storey Forte apartment block in Melbourne in a race to build Australia's first tall timber building, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald. The project is expected to be completed in October.

Grocon is also planning a similar building in the city, but construction has been delayed until next year. Both apartment blocks will be constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels.

The Forte building will be 242 cm taller than the world's current tallest timber buildings: Bridport House and Stadthaus in London. Lend Lease says it will also be Australia's most environmentally friendly multi-storey residence, with a 5-star green rating.

Lend Lease chief executive Mark Menhinnitt said CLT panels were lighter than concrete and steel, but had a similar structural strength, needed less foundations and reduced building time by up to a third as they could be prefabricated offsite into ''pods'' that were then fitted into the building.

Menhinnitt said CLT chars in a fire even but does not burn, and that the structure's design had been tested to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation standards.

Menhinnitt said Lend Lease had been researching lightweight options including CLT for three years, and would use the construction method for around half of its buildings in the future. The company also plans to build a public library using CLT in Melbourne.

The primary source of this article is The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, on May 26, 2012.

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