Melbourne to get its first timber commercial office building

Melbourne is set to get its first timber commercial office building.

The wood engineered structure with an end value of $56 million will join Australia’s first multi-storey timber apartment tower and a landmark wooden public library in the Docklands urban renewal precinct which has become a focal point for sustainable buildings.

Sydney-based developer AsheMorgan has launched a leasing campaign for tenants to occupy a multi-storey office which will straddle an existing two-level concrete building in The District, a shopping centre next to Footscray Road best known as the location of Melbourne’s Star Skywheel.

About two-thirds of the new structure will be made from cross laminated timber (CLT), an engineered product made from layers of softwood arranged crosswise and glued together under pressure into large panels.

Diversified developer Lendlease pioneered the use of CLT in Australia when it constructed the 10-level Forte apartment complex in the Docklands in 2012.

Lendlease has since built another commercial timber office, the six-storey International House Sydney at the gateway to its multi-billion dollar Barangaroo development, and has plans for a second timber office in the same project.

Engineered wood products are prefabricated in a factory and transported to the building site where they are put together like a Lego set saving time and construction costs.

“We are building over an existing structure so having a lightweight material is important for us,” AsheMorgan founder Michael Moss said.

Mr Moss said both employers and employees were focusing on the sustainability and health impacts of their offices. “That’s becoming an increasingly important factor for employees in choosing where they work.”

Wooden buildings had proven performance in both areas, he said.

The new building, called Woodwork, will have a ground floor lobby, retail space and four large upper levels that can be interlinked to create an open plan space of almost 8000 square metres.

It will replace a section of retails shops in The District bordered by Wharf Street, Docklands Drive and Waterfront Way.

AsheMorgan has invested heavily in The District after purchasing the rundown retail precinct, known then as Harbour City, in 2014.

The group’s $250 million revitalisation of the area is an audacious effort to pump the northern end of Docklands which has struggled to attract shoppers and tenants given its distance from the CBD.

CBRE’s Anthony Park and Scott McGlone and Colliers’ Michael Darvell and Matt Cosgrave will steer the leasing campaign.

Mr Park said the use of CLT would give the office a 5.5-star NABERS and Green Star ratings.

The group’s investment includes a 10,000sq m entertainment complex and Hoyts cinema which will finish construction this September, closely followed by a fresh food precinct with a 3800sq m full-line Woolworths supermarket, Dan Murphy’s, Asian grocer and Priceline Pharmacy next year.

Marriot Hotels will start construction this year on a 5-star, 200-room hotel on the site and master-planning is underway for another 200,000sq m of commercial office space.

Source: SMH