High-Tech, Timber-Rich Campus Coming to NSW’s Central Coast!

The University of Newcastle's $58m Central Coast campus will start construction later this year and is aiming to achieve a 6-star Green Star rating using a Mass Timber Construction frame.

Fri 01 Sep 23


Construction will begin on the University of Newcastle’s new cross-laminated timber building after the NSW government greenlighted the project earlier this week.

The AU $58 million three-storey facility will be the first mass-timber building constructed on the NSW Central Coast. The funding will be secured through a three-way partnership between the Federal Government, State Government and University in June 2022.

Wood Central understands that construction will begin later this year after a building is appointed, with the University aiming to have the new facility ready to accept enrolments in time for the second semester of 2025.

A new health, innovation and education hub for the Central Coast

It will establish a new health, innovation and education campus and be a “stepping stone” development in the Gosford Urban Design Framework.

University of Newcastle vice-chancellor Alex Zelinsky said the new campus will anchor the region’s reinvigoration and deliver a welcome injection into the local economy.

The new campus, located at 305 Mann Street in Gosford, will feature a three-storey facility, cafe, commercial retail area and communal open space. (Image Credit: Lyons and EJE Architecture.)

“The campus will provide a new place to work and study close to TAFE NSW, government and business,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“It will help generate new jobs and will also help to bolster the region’s existing workforce and attract more significant investment back to the Central Coast.”

According to Professor Zelinksy, more than 900 students will study at the new campus within the first decade of operation.

“Studying allied health, bioscience, digital transformation, law, business and innovation courses.”

Gosford is already home to the University of Newcastle Central Coast Clinical School, which opened in 2021 and services the local community’s health, medicine and wellbeing needs. 

New renders show the informal interior breakout spaces. Wood Central understands that the project will likely use glue-laminated timber columns. (Image Credit: Lyons and EJE Architecture)

And with the new campus under construction, “students across the region can now build their skills and earn a degree without leaving the Central Coast,” Professor Zelinksy said.

In March, the University reported that the “campus aims to provide teaching connected with [the Health Innovation cluster], as well as outreach programs to connect Gosford to other innovative and unique academic programs provided by the University.”

Design connects with the region’s rich Indigenous Heritage

In renders provided by Lyons and EJE Architecture, the new facility is conceived as “a sandstone block.”

Lyons and EJE Architecture was commissioned to design the new facility and reported that the building’s mass will be “eroded” away on the corners of the building’s footprint to create sheltered gathering spaces.

As reported by Architecture AU in March 2023, the concept connects to local Indigenous stories about “the importance of the saltwater edge, oyster collecting, food gathering and general social places that formed along the waterways and inlets of the entire region.”

The University of Newcastle has a proud history of indigenous education and heritage. In 2015, the University’s Wollotuka Institute received Australia’s first accreditation from the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. Footage courtesy of @NITV.

The APP Group has been appointed Project Manager with Northrop, ADP Consulting (Structural Engineer), Urbis (Planning) and Wilde and Woollar (Quantity Surveyors) also involved in the project team.

Referencing the Preliminary Construction Management Plan submitted to the NSW Government in November 2022, the building will use materials “that reference Gosford’s natural ecology and industrial history.”

Mass Timber is instrumental in delivering Green Star projects

Most significantly, the project will achieve a 6-star Greenstar rating through “Mass Timber Construction, (recognised) as a low embodied energy structural frame.”

6-star Greenstar projects demonstrate ‘world leadership’ in the built environment.

Under the Green Star Responsible Products Framework, the Green Building Council for Australia awards developers with Green Star credits for using PEFC, Responsible Wood and FSC-certified timber products. Footage courtesy of @gbcamarketing.

Under the Green Star Responsible Products Framework, timber can contribute to Green Star credits in three main areas: Responsible Structure, Responsible Envelope and Responsible Finishes.

The use of timber positively impacts several other credits, including Responsible Procurement, Exposure to Toxins, Upfront Carbon Emissions, Lifecycle Impacts and Circular Economy. 

These credits encourage using responsible, healthy, positive, and circular products.

Australian universities embrace Mass Timber in campus development

The University is among an increasing number of Australian universities embracing mass timber construction in campus development.

Last week, Wood Central reported on James Cook University’s (JCU) new Cairns Tropical Enterprise Centre (CTEC), which broke ground last Wednesday and will open in 2025.

In June, the JCU released updated artists’ impressions of the building.

It revealed a striking four-storey glulam and cross-laminated timber building which, according to principal contractor BESIX Watpac, “will be innovative in design to achieve Green Star recognition.

And earlier this year, the award-winning Murdoch University Boola Katatjin facility was opened in Perth.

Also targeting a 6-star Green Star rating, Trent Woods, the architect for the project, noted the scale of the timber used.

“The timber aspect of the building is its greatest environmental showcase because it demonstrates the ability to build timber frame at a large scale, at a tertiary institution level.”

The building’s structural system incorporates nearly 1800 pieces of mass timber.

In November 2022, the giant glue-laminated roof was installed on the building. Footage courtesy of @murdochdigitialmedia

At the time, Multiplex Regional Director Chris Palandri said the project used 2,143 tonnes of timber won the project.

“It’s a bit like a giant Meccano set or puzzle, with glue-laminated pieces of timber of all different lengths and shapes manufactured offsite before being fitted into place on site,” Mr Palandri said.

“Some of the glue-laminated timber beams used within the Northern Plaza are the largest ever installed in Australia by volume – at 7,282 kilograms each, extending 26 metres in length.

In March 2023 the latest group of Murdoch University students attended a graduation ceremony on northern events plaza. (Photo credit: Murdoch University)
Australia can supply cross-laminated projects

Global demand for cross-laminated timber is surging, with a recent report identifying growing demand in the Asia Pacific region fuelled by Australia, Japan, China, and India.

The Australian and NZ market is expected to exceed 800,000 cubic metres by 2026, with Xlam, Cusp, and, from next month, NeXTimber by Timberlink supplying a growing number of Australian projects.

Australian suppliers add to more than 20 importers who have serviced the market in recent years.

Xlam is Australia’s first cross-laminated timber manufacturing facility. Based in Albury Wodonga, it can deliver products to 75% of Australia within 24 hours. Footage courtesy of @investalburywodonga5550.

That includes Red Staggs’s TimberLab – the largest CLT in the southern hemisphere.

The push to use cross-laminated timber in construction will be discussed at the Timber Offsite Construction conference in Melbourne.

According to Andrew Dunn, the conference organiser, “the primary focus is on commercial-ready applications of timber technology.”

The conference is supported by Australian cross-laminated timber providers NeXTimber and Xlam and will discuss the Murdoch University Boola Katitjin project.


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