As you wander through the University’s new buildings on the foreshore at West Park in Burnie and Inveresk Precinct in Launceston, you’re met with a sense of calm and warmth through the use of timber amid industrial surroundings.
The choice to build using timber was driven by the University’s strategy to utilise renewable, carbon-neutral building materials with 100% sustainable forestry practices.
Involving local suppliers in the design process
John Wardle Architects designed each campus to include Tasmanian timber both structurally and in decorative features. The new Inveresk Library, a $23m project which opened in February 2022 has an exposed timber structure utilising laminated timber beams and columns with a sawtooth roofline to mirror the historic railway sheds. Raw timber for the beams was supplied by Hobart’s McKay Timber and Barbers Sawmill, from just outside of Launceston and manufactured into the structural elements by VicBeam.
The $52 million campus at West Park in Burnie opened in September 2021, with students and staff now accessing purpose-built modern educational facilities. The award-winning Cradle Coast campus evokes a sense of calm with Tasmanian timber providing a connection with the surrounding natural environment and the community it serves.
Britton Timbers produced the panels adorning the walls and ceilings using ply substrate from Ta Ann Tasmania with their own mis-matched Tasmanian Oak natural veneers pressed onto the face. In the building, the panels are both beautiful and highly functional for their acoustic properties.
Smithton-based Britton Timbers worked closely on the project with the design team for over 12 months before construction started on each building. As local experts, they were vital to the University’s procurement of large volumes of timber to meet timelines to supply Tasmanian Oak joinery, custom veneer wall linings, ceiling panels and rough-sawn floorboards, installed by local leaders in construction Fairbrother (West Park) and Vos Construction (Inveresk).
Shawn Britton, CEO of Britton Timbers was pleased to collaborate with the design team in prioritising local, sustainable timber products in these major projects.
“The striking beauty of sustainably produced Tasmanian Oak, combined with local manufacture for an iconic Tasmanian construction is simply world class.” Mr Britton said.
Industry collaboration has helped deliver sustainable building solutions
The University’s Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW) is utilising these new large-scale examples of timber use in transformation projects to encourage more collaboration between developers and local industry in the future.
Professor Greg Nolan, Director of CSAW enjoys the opportunity to bring together local skills and knowledge in innovate ways.
“Transformation projects are an excellent example of the positive outcomes of the Tasmanian Wood Encouragement Policy,” Professor Nolan said.
CSAW recently welcomed architect Gary Fleming as Tasmania’s first Wood Encouragement Officer. Jointly appointed by the Tasmanian Timber Promotion Board and the University of Tasmania, Mr Fleming will work with industry, government agencies and suppliers to identify opportunities that increase the use of timber products.
Nick Steel, CEO of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association said, “As a university on the cutting edge of science and technology it is fantastic to see them lead by example in these campus transformations by using timber, the ultimate renewable”.
“Smart and informed decisions like this will pay great dividends in the future for both the environment and the quality of life of anyone who uses these buildings”.
“The University and the Tasmanian forestry sector have a proud history of collaborating through investment in research and development. This investment has seen the industry transform to what it is today, an industry that delivers environmentally sustainable building solutions”.
The Northern Transformation Program is funded through the Launceston City Deal with contributions from the Australian and Tasmanian Governments, City of Launceston and the University.