All-wood house planned
A three-storey building made entirely of wood could go up soon in Marlborough, a seminar on innovative use of wood was told.
The seminar, hosted at the Marlborough Research Centre on Saturday by the Marlborough Forest Industry Association, was organised to highlight opportunities for Marlborough and Nelson wood producers and processors to help rebuild Christchurch.
One of those opportunities was for cross-laminated wood panels and beams, made by new Nelson company Xlam from wood grown there and in Marlborough.
Xlam director Robin Jack said the company had produced its first panels in July, which had been installed as flooring in a house on Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland.
The company would start producing panels for the first house in Nelson in two weeks, he said. A couple of others were near commitment.
"There is possibly a three-storey building. There is no signed contract yet, but I think we'll get it.
"It is in the top of the south, not far from here. I think we will be using Marlborough wood as well."
Speaking later, Mr Jack confirmed the building was in the Marlborough region. He declined to elaborate, saying the contract had yet to be signed and details were still confidential.
He told the seminar Xlam could produce panels any thickness to 40 centimetres, any length to 15 metres and any width to 3.4m. It could produce panels with spaces for extra insulation or room for wiring and piping.
The company was hoping to get more commercial work to enable it to build scale quickly, but it was interested in providing product for top-end housing, and there was potential to supply components such as flooring in the rebuild of Christchurch, he said.
"The majority of houses in Christchurch need to be rebuilt because their concrete floors fractured in the earthquakes. Once they're fractured, it's over, Rover."
Christchurch was going to need 10,000 houses rebuilt, and about 1600 of its 2000 commercial buildings replaced, he said. Xlam needed to provide for only a fraction of that to achieve its goals.
The Waiheke Island house had been on a difficult site, but it had taken the builder only two hours to install the floor because of the cross-laminated timber panels.
"Cross-laminated timber has a future."
Marlborough Forest Industry Association president Michael Cambridge said timber technology had a lot of potential.
Products such as cross-laminated timber panels, laminated veneer lumber, and glue-laminated beams were used for an wide range of buildings up to 10 storeys high, and could be used in higher buildings, he said.
The Austrian state of Vorarlberg specialised in wood architecture and this attracted 30,000 tourists a year purely to look at it.
"Smart design with expressive wood attracts tourists. Wouldn't it be good if we could rebuild Christchurch and attract more tourists?"
He likened it to merino wool. Producers had to highlight the product's attributes and benefits to the consumer.
"The benefits of wood are well known in Europe, but not so well known here in New Zealand."
Mr Cambridge listed its thermal mass benefits, hygienic properties, consistent char ratings, acoustic qualities, stress reduction powers and integral part in the carbon cycle.
Different woods had different qualities, and in Europe pine was recognised for its ability to reduce stress and lower heart rates.
- The Marlborough Express