North Apartments: A Shining Example of the Versatility of Timber
North Apartments in Flemington Victoria is a $180 million project that showcases a broad range of timber products. The combination of timber looks beautiful, but more importantly, it's functional. It is a shining example of the versatility of timber, and the importance of choosing the right product for the right application.
It was Kure Enterprises that contacted Paul Cauchi from Britton Timbers. Kure Enterprises specialise in internal fit outs including both carpentry and plastering. They were tendering for an extensive range of timber product and high volumes.
They needed timber products with environmental certification, a range of coatings for internal and external use, and nothing was 100% specified. They engaged Britton Timbers to talk to project managers Probuild, one of Australia's largest and most successful construction experts. Britton's could supply the versatility of timber and expertise required.
"Paul Cauchi's involvement in this project was invaluable. He saved the builder an enormous amount of time and money. Because of his knowledge of timber, he recommended an alternative size that was a third of the original estimate for the internal cladding. Because of his connections, he made life easy by bringing people to the table, and he cut down lead time," said Kure Enterprises Director, Johnny.
A defining feature of the design of the building is the external cladding. With the building being over twelve stories high, choosing the right timber cladding and coating was imperative.
"When timber is specified for the exterior cladding of a high-rise building there are several considerations. Firstly, it's important to understand the maintenance requirements. You must select a product that does not require regular coatings.
"Second, it is vital to meet flame spread ratings set by the Australian Building Authority," said Paul Cauchi. The Australian Building Authority have new codes for any cladding on high-rise apartments following a fire event in Melbourne where a fire spread six floors in just four minutes."
To this end, the architects inquired about a composite product, which is a pre-coated plastic/timber mix.
"We recommended Urbanline, a composite from Germany, with a 12-year non-fade warranty. We had the product tested and obtained a certificate of adherence to the Australian Standard."
The entrance walls, outside screening, and lining underneath the eaves are Accoya finished with WOCA walnut light brown. Accoya is a timber product with a 50-year external durability warranty. It is plantation grown with one of the highest FSC certification ratings in the world.
"Accoya is the most stable timber on the market. They treat the timber in a way that changes the molecular structure of the cell wall, which stops it expanding and contracting. The 50-year above ground manufacturer to owner written warranty is one of a kind – no other product can provide this. The warranty also covers 25 years in the ground."
Rough sawn Macrocarpa beams painted in Dulux Weathershield Nero Black offset the light-coloured Accoya screening. The client hadn't specified a timber, but they wanted big beams with natural features that would shine through the black.
These post and beam sections in the courtyards posed a huge challenge. They had a centred groove 50ml wide and 60ml deep to house LED lights for night time ambiance.
"It was a huge challenge to find a machine that could handle the nice clean channel. But I knew that Stace Karikas, one of Britton Timbers customers, had a five access CNC Router. So I discussed the solution with him and then we presented our approach.
"We're great at engaging our networks. Britton Timbers has a broad network of suppliers. We also supply to a wide range of customers, and we understand their businesses, and their machinery, really well," said Paul.
"This means that we can connect the right timber product and the right processor with the project to deliver on commercial construction needs."
The beams were pre-coated with two of the three coats of paint. The beams were then docked to length on site, and the final coat of paint applied, making the build as easy as possible for the client.
Britton Timbers works with a range of coating companies, and their staff is trained by each to ensure they're up to date with the latest coating technologies.
"We need to be able to provide an unbiased opinion about a coating and clearly understand which are appropriate for each timber and the required application."
The foyer on every level was lined with an American White Oak screening, finished with a WOCA natural oil.
Paul recommended an alternative length to the timber originally specified. It saved two-thirds of the cost by reducing wastage.
"Britton Timbers provided solutions to problems and alternatives that saved time and money. They brought people to the table providing a complete service. This service reduces the amount of homework required by the client and cuts down the lead time – it's invaluable," said Johnny, from Kure Enterprises.