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International House at BarangarooInternational House at Barangaroo

History built into the timbers

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

10 May 2017

Australia’s first engineered timber office building, International House Sydney, has been built at Barangaroo.

Not only is the six-storey building stunning to look at, it uses wood - the only renewable construction material of scale available. In this case, International House Sydney not only smells beautiful – its timbers are redolent with history.

The raking columns along the colonnade on Hickson Road have been recovered from various locations in NSW and Queensland, including: Hornibrook Bridge in Brisbane; the Wallerawang Rail Bridge, Blue Mountains;  and the Transgrid Telegraph Line between Grafton and Casino.

The ironbark timber was stored in Kempsey on the mid-north coast of NSW by Australian Architectural Hardwood, who also crafted the columns. The timber used in the interior stairs is also made from recovered Ironbark.

The interior stairs are made from turpentine timber recovered from the old piles of the original finger wharf found during the excavation of this section of Barangaroo. It has been used in the Mercantile Walk soffit cladding (below level 2) and the timber cladding to the building’s main lobby.

The bulk of the building is made with Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), which has a far lower carbon footprint than other building materials. Timbers are sourced from certified sustainably managed forests – in this case from Austria, and the production process produces zero waste.

Wooden buildings also create well-being benefits.  There have been several studies undertaken internationally on the benefits of wooden workplaces, including reduced blood pressure, lower stress levels and improved air quality. You can read a report by Planet Ark here.

CLT buildings can be constructed quickly as pieces arrive pre-assembled. In the past year since construction commenced, people walking past the site at Barangaroo have commented that it is like watching a giant Lego set come together.

Barangaroo is a showcase for some of the world’s and Australia’s best architects. On this particular building, the developer of Barangaroo’s southern precinct, Lendlease, has worked with award winning Sydney firm Tzannes.

It was built using 1,750 pieces of CLT and Glulam, and put together with more than 20,000 screws.

As with all buildings at Barangaroo, International House Sydney has a 99-year lease from the NSW Government. It was acquired by Lendlease International Towers Sydney Trust, the owner of International Towers Two and Three at Barangaroo, in June 2016.