The Tall Timber Office: A Tale of Two Buildings in Australia

Philip Vivian
Bates Smart, Sydney

While there have been many proposals for tall timber buildings around the world, they are typically residential or student accommodation. Australia is at the forefront with tall timber office buildings. This presentation considered two such buildings and their design implications: the under-construction 25 King at RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane, and 118 Mount Street in Sydney.

25 King is a 10-story office building under construction. Once complete, it will be the tallest timber office in Australia and have the largest floor plate. Originally designed as a concrete structure, it was changed to timber to entice an anchor tenant. The timber construction recalls the vernacular "Queenslanders" and relates to the historic RNA pavilions, resulting in a tall tower that connects with nature and supports the demands of the contemporary workplace.

118 Mount Street was a competition entry for Zurich Financial, and at 21 stories, would have been the tallest timber building in the world. The design appealed to Zurich’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2020, and proposed an all timber construction and hybrid timber floors with a concrete core. A roof garden would have provided outdoor space in the city to connect with nature. The building would have been a first for Sydney and the world, setting a new precedent for tall tower workplace design that prioritized sustainability, construction efficiencies, and well-being.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation

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