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Main timber structure of NIOA's new headquarters in Brisbane complete

February 18, 2021

David Rowlinson


Watpac has recently topped out the main timber structure of NIOA's new headquarters expansion project at Brisbane Airport. After an intensive planning process, the construction team has assembled the glulam/CLT structure of the five-storey engineered timber building in just 26 days.

The mass timber building was constructed using CLT supplied by X-lam’s factory in Albury-Wodonga using 2,550 square metres of 200 mm thick panels walls, floors, roof, stairwell and lift shaft, and 450 lineal metres of glulam beams from Hyne Timber at Maryborough. 

The NIOA extension is the first mass timber structure of its kind for builder Besix Watpac.

“We forecast the structure to take 36 days for completion, but we managed to complete it in just 26 days,” said site manager Ben Rowlands. 

“Part of the construction brief from the client was to ensure we do not hinder the day-to-day operations of the busy NIOA facility so the quicker we can construct and cleaner we can keep the site, the better,” he said. 

“Using all prefabricated engineered timber for the structure means we have minimal waste on site, less trades on site, faster, quieter construction and a far cleaner than for a comparable traditional construction project. 

“We spent more time reviewing the shop drawings and preparation for construction but in doing so, we were able to deliver on our commitment to minimise disruption to our client during construction.” 

Project architects Richard Kirk and Dr Andrew Magub of Brisbane-based Kirk Studio are familiar with designing and specifying mass engineered timber, priding themselves on delivering projects which showcase sustainability. 

Dr Magub said the building was a new typology, providing a column-free space to enhance the experience for those working within it. 

The timber is all Australian grown and certified plantation pine. The volume of timber used in the building will grow back within Australian plantations in just 45 minutes. 

Rob Mansell, technical sales representative and business development manager with X-Lam, said the project was the second mass engineered timber building supplied by Hyne Timber and X-Lam to NIOA with the new Rheinmetal NIOA factory in Maryborough nearing completion. 

“This building and the factory in Maryborough have been specifically procured and built entirely from Australian grown and manufactured engineered timber products, supporting local jobs,” Mr Mansell said. 

“It has been great to supply this local project and work with the professional team to see this showcase come to fruition.

“It is also great for our employees who manufacture the engineered timber to see their work coming together for an exceptional office space for the future.” 

The new offices are expected to be completed in April 2021.

Article first appeared in Timber and Forestry E-News


David Rowlinson

David hails from Lancashire, England and has lived in Australia since 1994. He studied Architecture at Sheffield University and also has an MBA from Macquarie University and a Master of Marketing from UNSW. Prior to joining Planet Ark in 2016 David was Marketing Manager then CEO of a major Sydney-based manufacturer of modular carpets used in all commercial building applications. His proudest achievement was the development of an industry-leading environmental sustainability agenda, including the unique Earthplus product reuse program.