Brisbane 2032: QLD Gov has Mass Timber in Olympic Village Plans

Government: Timber can outperform steel, concrete and aluminium

Thu 15 Jun 23


Wood Central can reveal that the Queensland Government will look to mass timber as one of its preferred construction materials for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Athlete Villages.

Announced during the ‘Doing Timber Business in Queensland’ symposium, the Hon. Bart Mellish supported greater investment in engineered wood products (mass timber) and their use in constructing Olympic Venues.

“We can see timber as a building material has great potential in achieving the government’s commitment to a climate-positive Games.”

According to Mellish timber is increasingly recognised as a central plank – or a support beam – driving the international response to climate change.

“We are seeing more public awareness that timber can substitute for steel, concrete, and aluminum. Timber can perform better than its alternatives.”

“Using timber for the athletes’ village could achieve a dual legacy as a sustainable venue and as lasting affordable accommodation.”

Bart Mellish is the Assistant Minister to the Premier for Veterans’ Affairs and the Public Sector and gave the keynote address, ‘Pathway to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games.’

Wood Central understands that the main athletes’ village will be built on prime Brisbane waterfront real estate at Hamilton, with smaller accommodation options on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Kooralbyn, near the rowing venue.

Industry: now the work begins

The Australian Forest Products sector has backed the announcement.

In a joint statement, the Australian Forest Products Association and Timber Queensland welcomed the commitment by the Palaszczuk Government.

“This is very exciting for Queensland’s forestry and timber sector and nationally. The Palaszczuk Government has firmly recognised the value of timber in the context of creating a climate positive Olympic Games. Now the sector and the Government need to work together early with relevant Olympic planning forums to deliver the best outcomes for effective timber supply and venue design, construction and jobs,” Mick Stephens, CEO of Timber Queensland, said.

“Governments everywhere should be actively looking at ways to increase the use of sustainably sourced timber and wood in new infrastructure to enhance the environmental and climate credentials of new builds,” Natasa Sikman, acting CEO of the Australian Forest Products Association said.

“And it’s not just Queensland’s 2032 Olympics, we also recognise the opportunities the Victorian Government has to create a climate-friendly Commonwealth Games in 2026 – in regional Victoria through timber as well.”

Last week, Deb Kerr, CEO of the Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA) wrote a contribution for Wood Central.

“The 2026 Commonwealth Games for regional Victoria is not just about breaking records.”

In the article, Kerr calls on the Victorian Government to use mass-timber in the construction of regional facilities and the establishment of a Commonwealth Plantation Estate.

Northshore Hamilton Development Area identified for the main Athletes Village

In October 2022, the Queensland Government accelerated plans for the athlete village with Planning Minister Steven Miles approving the expansion of the Northshore Hamilton Priority Development Area (PDA), about 6 kilometres north of the CBD.

An additional 1.2 kilometres of the waterfront was added to the development plans and will host more than 10,000 athletes and team officials for the Olympic Games and about 5,000 for the Paralympic Games.

Footage courtesy of @GrowingQld

Post Games, Northshore will deliver a diverse residential offering, including aged care, retirement living, social and affordable housing, key worker, hotel, build-to-rent, and market accommodations.

This includes 1,750 affordable housing units, which according to Mellish will be a ‘dual legacy’ of the games.

“Using timber for the athletes’ village could achieve a dual legacy as a sustainable venue and as lasting affordable accommodation.”

The village will be constructed on Economic Development Queensland-owned land within the Northshore Hamilton PDA, declared in 2008.

The development spans more than 300 hectares, with about 3 kilometres of river frontage, and will include upgrades to roads and public venues.

“It’s estimated Northshore Hamilton will have over 14,000 dwellings and be home to over 24,000 residents to help meet south-east Queensland’s fast-growing population,” Mr Miles said.

The yellow boundary marks the Northshore Hamilton Proposed Development Area (PDA). (Image courtesy of the Queensland Government)
Mass Timber to be used in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo’s 2026’s Olympic Village

According to Mellish, the Queensland Government is guided by “the impressive timber story emerging” from the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

In August 2021, architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) was chosen to design a mass-timber Olympic Village with “minimal environmental impact.”

SOM was selected following an international competition to complete the village, which will form part of the rail yards redevelopment in Milan’s Porta Romana area.

SOM renders for the Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo 2026 Olympic Village in Milan’s Porta Romana area. (Image credit: SOM and Pixelflakes)

SOM’s proposals include the transformation of two historic structures and the construction of six timber buildings to house athletes during the event in 2026, which will become student and affordable housing after the Games.

The mass-timber buildings will take cues from historic Milanese architecture while utilising contemporary materials, like low-embodied carbon facades.

According to Mellish, the Queensland government has established a new timber industry ministerial roundtable as a forum to provide feedback and support with the games (and the village), a key feature of the forum.

  • Wood Central has published an extract of the Minister’s speech here.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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