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90 ‘Architects of tomorrow’ design in engineered wood

BECAUSE of relatively modest replacement rate of existing building stock in Australia, it will be more than half a century before all buildings achieve the current level of performance exhibited in new buildings.
That’s the opinion of Dr Paola Leardini, a senior lecturer and technology stream leader at the University of Queensland’s School of Architecture, who is working with students on design concepts for relocatable flat-pack buildings, using engineered wood.
More than 90 second-year architectural students are completing a building technology course under the tutelage of Dr Leardini in a housing efficiency project supported by the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia.
Dr Leardini has studied architecture with a focus on green technologies in Milan, Berlin, Leicester and Copenhagen, and holds a PhD on energy efficiency and IEQ of office buildings from the Politecnico di Milano (Italy).
Shei has worked as an ESD designer and consultant, and taught in tertiary institutions in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand.
Her main research focus is on energy performance and thermal comfort of new and existing building stock, including investigation and assessment of multiple intervention strategies for low to positive energy buildings.
Her studies on comfort and energy efficiency of new and historic residential buildings have been published internationally.
Dr Leardini says research is required to verify the impact of both voluntary rating tools and legislative measures to promote energy efficiency within the existing building stock and to increase the rate of its refurbishment.
This research will include a detailed evaluation of the existing commercial building stock within the major Australian cities and the identification of barriers to the implementation of sustainability refurbishments.
The research will assess a large sample of existing commercial buildings to determine suitable retrofit strategies, the energy, and cost savings of undertaking major refurbishment and the effect on capital value of such refurbishments.
This research project may be developed in collaboration with UQ Business School, the UQ School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, the Green Building Council of Australia and commercial real estate partners.
In the relocatable buildings project, the UQ architectural students are constructing pre-fab models, using AFS certified structural BB plywood sheets 1800 x 1200 x 44 mm supplied by EWPAA member Austral Plywoods in Brisbane
Austral, operating since 1925, is Australia's leading manufacturer of premium grade plywood manufactured from 100% plantation hoop pine. The company’s chain of custody, linked to the Australian Forestry Standard, was awarded through the EWPAA audit process.
John Stafford, technical officer at the UQ architecture workshop, said his visit to Austral Plywoods had been a real eye-opener.
“I just didn’t realise such a high-tech plywood factory operated on our doorstep,” he said. “I absorbed a lot of information from principal Scott Mathews, especially about Austral’s ability to rotary-cut its own veneers, producing A-Bond products with a Super EO rating.”
Mr Stafford said the architectural students were expected to complete the models for the pre-fab project within five or six weeks.

Photo:
John Stafford, technical officer at the University of Queensland’s architecture workshop (left), with Scott Matthews of Austral Plywoods, which supplied structural plywood sheets for a relocatable flat-pack building design project by second-year architectural students.