Timber stacks up well for Tassie uni students

Students in residence at the University of Tasmania are enjoying life in the new $15 million accommodation complex built by Hutchies at Inveresk on the banks of the Esk River in Launceston. The University of Tasmania required accommodation for the start of the 2016 academic year, so time was of utmost importance. Given the challenging design, time pressure and local weather conditions, it was a credit to the team that they completed the works to a high standard, on time and within budget. The design aimed to showcase timber wherever possible and included timber structure for the modules, truss roof, floors, stairs, walkways and approximately 32 kilometres of locally milled macrocarpa timber battens for screens.

The project involved the construction of 120 modular, self-contained studio apartments, each with its own kitchen, bathroom and study space, as well as common study areas, kitchen, washing facilities, vehicle and bike parking. The design is a mix of modular and conventional construction methods. The modular component required the establishment of a temporary modular yard in Launceston for a six month period – the first of its kind in Tasmania. The modular yard utilised the skills, knowledge and personnel (Joe Newrick and Jay Kruger) from the Yatala yard, as well as the existing Launceston carpentry team and some new blood. Although it was short lived (April to October), the yard kept the team out of the rain and snow in a typical Launceston winter and helped production meet the tight timeline and maintain quality control.

The project also included a modular roof design which involved construction of the roof frame and cladding in 20 separate sections on an adjacent block of land. The sections were then lifted into position which saved time and cost and reduced the need for working at height. The project is the first in Tasmania to use Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) which was imported from New Zealand. The four-storey building is predominantly timber framed which raised fire rating challenges. The design team was led by Morrison and Breytenbach Architects and included early involvement from Robert Morris Nunn Architects and the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW), and with Aldanmark, Engineering Solutions Tasmania, Exsto Management and Red Fire in the sub-consultant team.