Wooden you know it - architecture and timber

During the formative years of my architectural education I had a lecturer for one of the obligatory technology subjects who used to make a very clear distinction between "wood" & "timber" - "You burn wood and you build with timber."  The term "wood' actually refers to the materials natural state before undergoing a process of modification at the hands of man (or these days machine) to become the "timber" that you purchase down at your local Bunnings or Masters (depending on your allegiances).
Architects employ timber for many reasons - some for the warmth it brings to a space, others to provide a more 'natural' finish - a counter balance to manufactured glass and steel.  During my time at Kerstin Thompson Architects we employed a timber veil, to the new Marysville Police Station in the form of alternating radial profiled battens, "recalling the local timber industry, surrounding forests and the heritage of timber buildings that were most strongly associated with Marysville's built past, now lost.  The timber veil allowed for a much softer and permeable interface with the 'Marysville Heart' Park to the north - balancing transparency to public areas and the privacy required of certain aspects of Police operation.  The Silvertop Ash battens were sealed but allowed to grey over time, giving the impression that the building has been there for longer than it has.
This softer, natural finish is becoming more prevalent throughout metropolitan Melbourne as an increasing number of architects incorporate timber into their designs, some going so far as to clad entire building exteriors as seen below.
Structurally, timber is a cheaper alternative to steel construction and up until more recently has been limited to buildings much smaller in stature - with precast concrete taking centre stage on high rise construction projects. Enter CLT (cross laminated timber veneer), a multi-layered,lightweight, loadbearing, solid timber panel that allows high rise buildings to go up in a fraction of the time usually required, best demonstrated in Melbourne by Lend Lease's Forte project at Docklands - the world's tallest timber apartment building and a precursor to the direction of the future wharf structures to come at the western end of Victoria Harbour's peninsula.
Above all else timber is visually stimulating and provides a welcome change to a typical Melbourne urban setting.  With that in mind expand the images below to fully appreciate some of Melbourne's finest buildings which employ timber in one form or another.  All images taken credited to Urban Melbourne staff.
Government Services Building Dandenong - Hassell Architects


Modernaux's picture

"Richmond private residence" is HOUSE house by Andrew Maynard Architects.

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Chris Peska's picture

I've always loved the Matchstick in Brunswick! I also think that the contrast of wood on concrete and glass just works so well!

Observe. Design. Build. Live.

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Samson Fish's picture

The Matchstick is beautiful work. And the newer next door apartments honour it nicely. We need more like these.

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Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 12:00
When a site spans 19,280 square metres, it becomes a 'district'. That's the case according to the development team behind the Jam Factory's pending overhaul. Reporting on the project to date has focused on the close to 60,000 square metres of new commercial space that is earmarked for the site, but more importantly from a layperson's perspective is the extensive new public realm that is planned as part of the development.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.