Canberra’s First ‘Smart’ Mass Timber Build Tops Out at Speed!

Mass timber mid-rise buildings are on the rise across Australia's capital, as the ACT government looks to decarbonise it's building stock.

Tue 02 Jul 24


The ACT’s new ‘wooden campus’ has ‘topped out’ with the project team celebrating the milestone by placing a tree, made from construction offcuts, atop the five-storey Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) hybrid building.

“Today marks a huge achievement in what has been a collaborative effort from the ACT Government, CIT, delivery partners Lendlease, as well as local business and the community,” according to Chris Steel, the ACT’s Minister for Skills, who said the new campus, which remains on track to open mid-next year, will eventually house 6,500 students.

“Sustainability is at the heart of the CIT Woden Campus project with the mass timber beams visible throughout the building. It is, therefore, fitting that the ceremonial tree has been crafted from timber frame offcuts and will become part of the campus public art for students, staff, and the community to enjoy,” Minister Steel said.

In April, the CIT released a new flythrough showing artist impressions of the new building – footage courtesy of @CITCanberra.

Built by Lendlease, the new 22,500-square-metre building—Canberra’s first education build to use smart building technologyuses a MASSLAM 45 post and beam frame, while Xlam provided the cross-laminated timber floor – which together is helping the project target a 6-star Green Star rating.

“In total, more than 900 MASSLAM 45 (glue-laminated timber) columns and beams were provided for the project,” according to Daniel Wright, Australian Sustainable Hardwoods National Business Development Manager. “We informed connection design and detailing, specialist timber advise, CNC work, connections, pre attachment and delivery in lifting sequence.”

In addition, “special work was done on a creative new column base connection and temporary column propping – implementing our lessons and ideas we’ve developed over time,” Mr Wright said.

“One of the advantages of this project is we have been involved in the project for quite a while now, and that has allowed us to identify the critical wait time items that present the most risk and place early orders in collaboration with the Territory to mitigate those risks to ensure the materials arrive on time,” said Ben Owen, Lendlease’s general manager, who in 2022, was awarded the $325m contract to develop the campus.

According to Chris Barr, ACT’s Chief Minister, “CIT Woden is part of Canberra’s billion-dollar education build, with more investment in the right infrastructure to support skills, students, schools and educators.”

Wood Central understands that the new campus will see students at the current CIT Read campus relocate to allow for the development of a new UNSW campus in the heart of Canberra, strengthening CIT’s existing campuses in Fyshwick, Bruce, Gungahlin, and Tuggeranong.

Mass timber construction is on the rise across the nation’s capital. Last year, the ACT government revealed plans to build a six-storey commercial tower using a hybrid steel-and-timber system in the heart of the iconic Constitutional Place.

Designed by Bates Smart, the same architect who designed Constitutional Place, the six-level office tower will use a hybrid timber construction system, “where part of the building structure and fabric will be built from sustainable timber, further reducing the building’s carbon footprint.”

As for CIT Woden, attention now turns to installing the structure’s roof and glazed timber façade before crews start on the internal fitout, landscaping and art as the focus transitions to building commissioning and preparations for welcoming CIT staff and students.


  • 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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