The first thing that hits the senses when walking into Lendlease’s International House Sydney is the sweet smell of the forest.
It is the first engineered timber office in the country and sits in Barangaroo complex, Sydney. The designers say it will help to lower blood pressure and orders are said to be flowing in.
The wooden beams across the open plan office floors mean staff can literally hug a tree.
The managing director of Barangaroo, Rob Deck, said now clients can see the property “we have a received a lot of interest” for possible new sites.
“Even the construction was sustainable, as being timber it did not require drilling or concrete pouring, which made it a very quiet building site with minimal wastage,” Deck said.
“In these days when companies want to attract younger staff, we need to be aware of offering sustainable buildings.”
Standing at six floors and covering 7000 square metres, the property will be the new home for advisory group, Accenture, when its lease expires at Workplace6, Pyrmont.
The ceilings have an industrial look with exposed pipes and a new metal air conditioning system that absorbs stale air immediately. The timber beams and floors absorb noise and the windows provide filtered sunlight.
International House Sydney is made from the building materials Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and glue laminated timber (Glulam).
Constructed with wood, CLT has a lower carbon footprint than other building materials, the production process produces zero waste, and timbers are sourced from certified sustainably managed forests.
Building contractor Strongbuild is leading Australian innovation in CLT and has recently begun construction on a 10-storey tower as part of a luxury retirement village at the western end of Sydney’s Norwest Business Park precinct.
Strongbuild’s managing director, Adam Strong, said CLT is being described as the “building material of the future”.
“It is as strong and fire-resistant as concrete and steel and, as a prefabricated solution, competes with precast concrete on cost and time involved in construction,” Strong said.
“Just as importantly in a world faced with global warming, CLT technology can be sourced from sustainable forestry plantations. Trees sequester greenhouse gases, whereas producing concrete emits carbon.”
International House Sydney is Lendlease’s third CLT building in Australia and joins Forte Apartments and public building Library at The Dock, both in Melbourne.
Lendlease is also delivering 5 King, the first engineered timber building in Queensland and the tallest in Australia, and the Community Hub at Jordan Springs in Western Sydney, the first public building in NSW to be built from CLT.
The chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, Romilly Madew, said Lendlease’s work on International House, and its other timber high-rise buildings, heralds a new era for timber construction in Australia.
“I’m really excited by the use of this material,” Madew said. “The sustainably-sourced timber is a fast growing renewable resource. A timber building also acts as a carbon sink, storing the carbon absorbed by the trees during their growth.
“Timber provides a range of co-benefits that support social sustainability. Timber buildings provide great thermal performance, which means they are efficient to heat and cool and save considerable amounts on utility bills. At Forte in Melbourne, residents are reporting a 25 per cent decrease on electricity bills.”
Madew added that timber buildings are also fast to construct, and a lot of the work can be done offsite, which has financial and safety implications. They may present an affordable housing solution, and the speed at which these buildings can be erected means they have less impact on existing communities.
“This could be the solution to increasing the density of our cities without compromising the quality of existing suburbs,” she said.
International House Sydney was built using 1750 pieces of CLT and Glulam, more than 20,000 screws to put it together and took just under a year to construct.