The use of timber as a sustainable and effective building material is fast being recognised by architects around the world. Nowhere is this transformation of design more evident than in plans laid out by the Australian based company Atlassian, to build a 180-metre timber-based hybrid skyscraper in Sydney.
The building has been designed by the New York-based architects SHoP and the Australian designers BVN. It is likely to cost around $1 billion, setting a new record in Sydney. It is hoped that this wood high-rise will become the centrepiece of the 24 block reinvigoration of Sydney’s Tech Central development, which is advertised to become a major rival to the USA’s Silicon Valley.
The building design consists of a timber internal superstructure encased and supported by an outer steel and glass casing. SHoP plan to arrange the building into ‘neighbourhoods’ separated by mega floors, creating opportunities for open-plan offices and outdoor spaces1.
Similarly, the building is planned to run on 100% renewable energy via the integration of solar panelling into the metal facade of the outer side. But the design innovations don’t stop there, with the use of natural ventilation to ensure the building requires as little energy as possible2.
Due to the speed in which timber buildings can be erected in comparison to concrete structures, Atlassian aims to ensure carbon emissions in the construction and running of the tower are 50% lower than a conventional building3. Much of these stringent attempts by Atlassian to reduce emissions and implement total use of sustainable energy sources all lie in its environmental commitment to operate on 100% renewable energy by 20254.
Atlassian’s environmental policy is reflective of many other large multinational firms attempting to display their willingness to aid in the fight against the climate crisis. Although in some cases just green-washing, this move seems to indicate a concrete commitment to using sustainable materials. It is encouraging that such a large and influential firm is integrating the use of sustainably sourced timber into their environmental projects and demonstrating its potential as the future material of city skylines.
However, the massive $1 billion price tag on the project does not reflect well on the economic viability of using timber more frequently in high-rise construction. It must, therefore, be stated that the timber element to this project has not driven the cost to such astronomical heights. Instead, the high cost of this design is likely incurred by the integration of the historic Parcels Shed youth hostel in the lower levels and the sheer size of the project.
The project is due to be completed by 2025, at which time Atlassian aims to attract 25,000 workers into the hybrid tech centre. The project is a major leap forward for the timber industry and sustainable design, with such a high profile company putting heavy focus on creating a sustainable tower which will last long into the future.
- dezeen.com., (2020). SHoP Architects and BVN design world’s tallest hybrid timber tower for Atlassian in Sydney. India Block[↩]
- Norris, S & Trigg C., (2020). Software Company Atlassian Is Building the World’s Tallest Hybrid Timber Building at Central Station’s New Tech Precinct. Broadsheet[↩]
- Masige, S., (2020). Atlassian is building the world’s tallest hybrid timber building in Sydney as its new headquarters. Business Insider Australia[↩]
- Atlassian., (2020). A net-zero future. Corporate Social Responsibility[↩]