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Scholarship winners both rely on wood for the win

The winners of the New Zealand Institute of Building Charitable Trust’s (NZIOB Charitable Trust) 2018 Scholarship Awards were announced recently at the NZIOB Awards of Excellent dinner in Auckland. Sources: Timberbiz, Scoop Media

The two winners, who each received a NZ$10,000 cash prize, are Emma Fell and Mikayla Heesterman. They are Master of Architecture (Professional) students from the School of Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington.

The scholarships, which were first offered in 2017, recognise, encourage and financially support recipients from a trade, technical or professional role, who are proposing to pursue a project linked to building through research, practice or professional development.

The judging panel for this year’s awards comprised three past presidents of the NZIOB: Gina Jones, Bill Porteous, and John Jonassen; who reviewed 11 entries and selected the two winners.

Ms Fell is researching the design and development of a prefabricated building envelope system for mass timber construction using cross-laminated timber (CLT).

The system uses specially designed proprietary joints specific to different types of cladding.

Ms Fell proposes to use the NZIOB Award to fund a full-scale prototype using CLT and the building elements necessary to assess the viability of the system.

The resultant research has the capability to revolutionise prefabrication in New Zealand.

Ms Fell noted in her application that in the current climate of KiwiBuild and concern for smarter building solutions, the proposed prefabricated envelope system, once optimised, offers the possibility of off-site fabrication, followed by delivery to the site, and quick erection without scaffolding.

The optimised design and process could lead to an immense reduction of overall construction time and costs.

Ms Heesterman has been inspired by traditional Japanese timber architecture, which used intricately carved timber-only connections. Such connections are structurally successful and aesthetically beautiful, but as Ms Heesterman notes in her application, their complexity makes them time consuming and difficult to make.

By using pioneering industrial robotic arm technology Ms Heesterman proposes that it will be possible to fabricate more complex designs than is usually possible with existing wood-working machinery.

Traditional timber joints are used as a starting point for the development of new intricate joints that are suitable for modern fabrication and complex large-scale timber architecture.

Her study is focussed on traditional timber-only (no metal) connections to create new sustainable solutions that can only be produced by robotic milling. The ultimate aim is to produce an accessible database of new construction designs, with relevant structural information for different applications, that can be easily selected, personalised and produced.

The judges noted that in a country like New Zealand, with a strong history of innovative timber construction, it was interesting that the two winners’ applications centred on the efficient use of timber.