Cross laminated timber is being used for the first time in Australia to transform a 1970s concrete building into a school for 21st century learning.

Knut Menden, BVN Senior Associate, presented details of this design at the Designing Tall Timber Building Seminar, held by the Timber Development Association at the NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre in Sydney this April.

Knut showed how Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School in North Strathfield is being transformed using prefabricated cross laminated timber (CLT) walls, glulam columns and beams and a unique CLT slab/acoustic ceiling system. The prefabrication leads to a quick assembly offering significant reductions in building time.

There are many benefits to using timber for a school building beyond the obvious ones of environmental sustainability, particularly timber’s role in storing carbon.

In research conducted by the Human Research Institut in Austria, timber has been shown to have significant benefits for school students. The research was based on four classrooms being made out of solid timber materials and 52 pupils in both the timber classrooms and standard classrooms having psychophysiological measurements across a school year.

The results showed that there were significant differences between the health parameters in the different classes. It turned out that the students in the timber classes exhibited a decreasing of heartbeats, revealing less school-related stress.