NSW: Fire Safety Laws to get Tougher

fire-safetyNSW apartment blocks will be required to undergo annual fire safety checks under a proposed overhaul of the laws governing how buildings are certified.


The planned changes will include a stricter accreditation process for people in charge of certifications and more frequent checks of building owners who may be paying their own certifiers.


The move follows a review of the legislation that was highly critical of the way commercial and apartment buildings are certified and accredited as fire safe.


A coronial inquest into a fatal Sydney apartment block fire in 2012 found a string of individual and systemic failures led to student Connie Zhang’s death, including the building developer and strata manager’s lax attitude to safety.


Ms Zhang’s parents called for changes to building regulations after the findings came down last year.


“Certifiers play a critical role in the building process and these reforms will ensure safety and confidence in the system,” Regulation Minister Victor Dominello said.


The laws were especially imperative considering the construction boom NSW was currently experiencing.


The proposed laws will implement more annual inspections during and after a building’s construction, and tighter controls on who performs certain fire safety roles.


The draft bill will be available for public feedback next year.



Is Eight Stories High Enough for Timber?

tall timber buildingThe 2016 edition of the National Construction Code allows for offices, hotels and apartment buildings constructed of wood up to an effective height of 25 metres or eight storeys under a deemed to satisfy (DTS) solution.


For many within the timber industry, this represented a watershed moment which would facilitate greater use of the product within the growing market for medium-rise apartment living.


With the increasing number of mega-tall buildings going up within CBD markets, however, questions surround how much impact this will really have and whether or not concrete and steel will continue to dominate in an environment where buildings are pushing 70 to 80 storeys.


With timber buildings rising to above 20 storeys overseas, meanwhile, further questions surround whether or not eight storeys will be sufficient over the longer term or will instead serve as more of a stepping stone on the way toward taller wooden buildings still.


read more here


Exterior Colour: More than Simply Decoration

Colour and architecture should go hand in hand. So why do so many architects dismiss the importance of colour as mere decoration? Avoiding using colour means missing out on more than just its decorative capabilities.


Colour can have a profound psychological and physiological impact on users of the built environment. Therefore, colour can be used effectively to create more user-supportive environments through the purposeful application of colour.


Strategic use of colour has many benefits. Colour conveys messages of all kinds and performs a wide variety of functions such as setting a tone, conveying a particular style or image, guiding the eye where it needs to go, informing, organizing or warning.


Colour can be used to direct movement through a space. For instance, roll out a red carpet and people will walk along it. Research has shown that people will tend congregate in areas where there is colour in deference to areas where there is a lack of colour. We associate colours with emotions because often it is hard to say what we actually feel.  Colours connect to our feelings in a memorable and unique way.


read more here



Australia’s first engineered timber office building sets new sustainability benchmark

lendleaseLendlease has announced plans for Australia’s first engineered timber office, setting a new benchmark in the use of sustainable building materials.


International House Sydney will be a uniquely sustainable and instantly recognisable business address. Acquired by Lend Lease International Towers Sydney Trust, the owner of Tower Two and Tower Three at Barangaroo, the building offers 6,850 square metres net lettable area (NLA) across six-storeys.


Andrew Wilson, Managing Director, Barangaroo South said “We are well on our way to creating Australia’s first large scale carbon neutral community and we are extremely proud to be delivering this exciting building.


“International House Sydney fronts directly onto Exchange Square, an entry point into the precinct, and will be a symbol of innovation and sustainability greeting some 33,000 daily visitors as they emerge from Wynyard Walk.”


Designed by Jonathan Evans and Alec Tzannes, from awarded architectural practice Tzannes, International House Sydney is set to become an instantly recognisable icon.


Read more ...

UN report pushes for wood in construction

Wood in ConstructionUsing wood and wood-based materials in construction and products in place of non-renewable materials like concrete, metal, brick and plastic could lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.


The July 2016 report, titled Forestry for a low-carbon future: Integrating forests and wood products in climate change strategies, has highlighted the important role that green or resource-efficient wood-based buildings will play in the transition to a sustainable built environment while delivering economic benefits.


In 2010, the building sector was responsible for about 32 percent of global energy consumption, 19 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions and 51 percent of global electricity consumption, according to the findings of the report.


The report says increasing the use of wood in construction and building products will result in lowering greenhouse gas emissions because of wood’s ability to store carbon, and because of the low level of emissions released during the industrial processing of wood compared to manufacturing other materials such as cement and steel.


read more here

by Louisa Wright | ARCHITECTUREAU