Timber is the cost-effective answer to a lack of aged accommodation.

With Australians living longer than ever, a raft of problems have arisen in our aged care sector. One at least has a straightforward solution.

The lack of physical accommodation space can be effectively met with timber-based design and construction solutions, now easier to achieve than ever thanks to the new WoodSolutions Guide 42: Building Code of Australia Deemed to Satisfy Solutions for Timber Aged Care Buildings (Class 9c).

Timber construction offers efficiencies in time, cost and sustainability, as well as providing health benefits for residents. Unlike concrete and tiled surfaces, timber is a good year-round insulator, keeping rooms at a comfortable temperature and humidity. It helps to muffle acoustic pollution and reflects warm light. All these comforts have resulted in better cognitive performances for workers in timber spaces, results that look likely to hold for aged residents as well.

Eileen Newbury, WoodSolutions National Program Manager and National Marketing and Communications Manager for Forest and Wood Products Australia, emphasised timber’s unique ability to provide the estimated 74,000 extra aged care beds Australia will require over the next decade.

From a design approach, Guide 42 presents three distinct timber building solutions: lightweight timber frames, post and beam and solid timber panels (such as Cross Laminated Timber or Laminated Veneer Lumber). All meet fire and acoustic regulations, and all encourage a low- to mid-rise design that creates comfortable communities.

As Newbury says, “We are in a period of constant rediscovery, where theoretic and empirical evidence support the benefits of building with timber. With an engineered timber retirement village close to completion, I am hoping Australia will lead the way into building timber solutions for aged care accommodation.”

The new Guide and the rest of the 40+ titles in the WoodSolutions Design Guide library are available for free download from the WoodSolutions website, visit woodsolutions.com.au.