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roof a world first
Quick connect: Robert Finch and Troy Briggs with the big bolt.
By CAROLYN VEEN
Roof structure: Assembled on the ground before the
Joint effort: From left, Duncan Bruce, Felix Scheibmair, Martine Lyon and Robert Finch.
The roof of Tumu Timbers' new building in Pan-
dora is a world first in engineering, using wooden
laminated beams to span 60 metres, divided only
by a central column.
Duncan Bruce, senior structural engineer from
Strata Group, says the project, designed to maxi-
mise floor space, is a very special one and it's the
first time it has been done in the world.
It's different in that we're using a new system
for joining the timber rafters to the steel columns,
which would traditionally be done with big steel
plates and thousands of nails, but we've used
laminated veneer lumber,'' says Mr Bruce.
We were engaged by Tumu Hawke's Bay Ltd to
design the building and we went to research con-
sortium STIC [Structural Timber Innovation
Company] in Auckland, to design the joints, which
is the new technique.''
STIC chief executive Robert Finch got Auckland
University to do the research and come up with
this design technique.
This is the first commercial application of this
piece of research in the world, and that's exciting.
We're really pleased that the Strata Group has
got the bit between the teeth and taken on this
design,'' Mr Finch says.
A traditional timber building would have cen-
tre columns that are roughly the same size as the
rafter, but we've been able to use narrower steel
columns to maximise the client's usable space
within the building.''
Some of the greatest inventions are borne from
necessity; and some of the best designs are the
most simple, even if they have been 12 months in
Normally it would be quite hard to do a big
long span and have simple connections at the all-
important knee joint, and that's what's made it
difficult for engineered timber, so we developed
the Xpan quick connect joint' which is a simple
and quick way to join big structural members to
In order to accommodate the massive span,
each 30-metre rafter is connected by an
innovative splice joint.
As laminated veneer lumber is only available
in 18.4m lengths, two had to be joined together to
span the halfway 30m point. This is done with a
simple splice joint.''
Steel dowels have been embedded into the tim-
ber beams to hold the tension, an inward force
essentially, and the sleeves are held on to the
main members by fully threaded, self-drilling
Although there was an option to build in struc-
tural steel, Tumu, being a major local player
within the timber industry, wanted the construc-
tion to reflect their product.
The building is quite light, as timber weighs
about half a tonne per cubic metre, which is one-
fifth the weight of the equivalent in concrete, and
yet has similar strength characteristics. This type
of lightweight structure is governed by wind load
whereas heavier concrete and brick are governed
by seismic load. Made from a renewable product,
it's more sustainable, at least as strong as steel
and it is cost-effective.''
Troy Briggs from Alexander Construction says
it's great to have a contract that's out of the ordi-
It's cutting edge and it's exciting to be working
with such a technically skilled team that's intent
on growing New Zealand's local industry in a
Because it has never been done before we can't
just knock on someone's door and say how did you
manage to do that?' but with help from the
engineers and Tumu, we are all figuring it out.
It's a great challenge. We're doing as much work
as we possibly can on the ground, before it all gets
hoisted up, and keeping each joint at 20 degrees
while it cures gives us a new skill.''
From the preliminary design stage to where it
is now has taken about a year, and the whole
project is expected to be completed by October.
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