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Andrew Waugh: only timber technology can tackle climate change

Only timber can tackle climate change – timber and the latest construction technology. This is the view of expert and pioneer in the use of engineered timber and offsite construction, architect Andrew Waugh.

“Working with timber has obvious environmental benefits: it’s replenishable, it’s made of carbon and has a very low embodied energy,” says Waugh. “Trees soak up carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and release oxygen.”

Clearly timber is a far more sustainable building material than concrete or steel. However, it is the advances in the technology of engineered timber and the development of effective offsite construction techniques that are making timber a viable alternative in many applications.

“Building homes offsite speeds up delivery and reduces the impact of construction on the local area. Homes constructed out of engineered timber, using cutting-edge technology, are of a higher quality than those built using standard construction techniques,” says Waugh.

“Prefabrication turns each construction site from a uniquely made commodity to a practised process. Each building will be made from a series of customized components, giving us the buildings we deserve rather than the ones we put up with!” 

Waugh, a pioneer in this new building process, claims that a hundred years of concrete has made his profession lazy. The architect is no longer the master builder. For many years, architects have focused only on design and have not been involved in construction. They have not really confronted the issue of climate change. He wants architects to reimagine building construction; to experiment with materials as much as they experiment with design.

Waugh is excited about the prospect of timber products and offsite construction revolutionizing the building industry. “We will be building completely in timber by the end of the century,” he says. “From an architectural standpoint, the really exciting thing is to see what kind of architecture this new material brings.”

Andrew Waugh is a founding director of Waugh Thistleton Architects and one of the leading advocates of the use of engineered timber and offsite manufacturing and construction. From cinemas to synagogues, Waugh’s award-winning designs are championing the cause of low-carbon construction.

Andrew Waugh will be a keynote speaker at Timber Offsite Construction 2022 at the Opening Session Tues 21 June at 8.30am AEST;  to be hosted at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, Australia on 21-22 June for delegates in-person and/or virtual participation.

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