Melbourne is now home to the tallest timber apartment building, a 10-storey site dubbed Forté that challenges conceptions surrounding mainstream construction materials.
Located in the ever-growing Victoria Harbour in Melbourne Docklands, the building sits on a 2.5-kilometre promenade and hopes to achieve the first 5 Star Green Star As Built residential building in Australia.
To reduce the carbon footprint of the building, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) was chosen over concrete as the building’s primary structural material. A total of 760 panels of certified and manufactured timber was shipped from Austria for the building with the walls, floors and ceilings also made of solid timber.
In keeping with the building’s sustainable focus, the concrete that was required in the podium level contained a high fly ash content to make it lighter and more energy efficient than ordinary concrete without losing its material strength.
A study at RMIT University found that “the use of CLT is expected to produce significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1,400 tonnes compared to traditional concrete and steel.” CLT keeps its strength through a layering process of solid timber panels when it is manufactured.
“Designed and produced in a factory environment, Forté was 30 per cent faster to build, safer and with higher precision than traditional construction materials,” explained Lend Lease Australia head of operational excellence Daryl Patterson. “It also resulted in reduced construction traffic to and from site, caused less disruption to the community and produced less waste.”
“Unlike Europe where the revolutionary material has been used for more than a decade, Australia is only at the beginning of its CLT journey and still has a way to go to recognise the enormous potential in our market,” he added.
With CLT offering better thermal performance, Patterson believes residents will experience “average savings of $300 per year or up to 25 per cent less than a typical code-compliant apartment.”
Water efficient fittings, dishwashers and washing machines have been installed throughout the complex and a rainwater capture system supports toilet flushing and supplies the fire system.
The building has an average NatHERS rating of 7 Stars thanks to the reverse cycle heat and air-conditioning.
LED lights add to the sustainable features, and every apartment features windows that face two directions, capturing natural light and encouraging natural ventilation.
The building fits with Melbourne’s urbanisation trends combining sustainability with lifestyle. Forté features 23 spacious residential apartments – only three per floor – as well as retail space and four luxury townhouses that neighbour the timber building.
A vegetable garden has been installed on the balcony of each apartment and green communal areas encourage residents to live green and be part of a community in a building that celebrates Melbourne’s sustainable future.