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Australia’s largest residential timber building is an affordable housing project

An affordable housing development made from cross-laminated timber (CLT) has opened in Campbelltown, making it the largest residential engineered timber building in Australia and the first in NSW, according to community housing provider BlueCHP.

The development, known as The Gardens, comprises three towers with 101 apartments, 56 of which are available for affordable rental. The remaining 45 dwellings have been sold on the private market.

BlueCHP head of property services Marcelo Steimbeisser told The Fifth Estate there was no distinguishable difference between the affordable and private housing, and that all apartments were specified to comparable apartments in Campbelltown, including two bathrooms, stone tops and stainless-steel appliances, floor to ceiling tiling in wet areas and instantaneous gas hot water units.

Built with about 22,000 square metres, or 962 tonnes, of CLT – sourced from sustainably managed spruce forests in Scandinavia – The Gardens saw a 35 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from onsite construction, as well as a 60 per cent reduction in waste. Each apartment was designed in accordance to BASIX requirements, achieving an average five-star NatHERS energy rating, Mr Steimbeisser said.

Construction noise was also reduced because only five carpenters were used for the CLT installation, and the project saw minimised high-risk activities and zero construction-related injuries, Mr Steimbeisser said.

Other sustainable initiatives in The Gardens project included:

  • A 15 kilowatt solar system for lighting common areas, together with energy-efficient lighting in apartments
  • A 20,000 cubic metre rainwater tank reticulated back into common landscaping
  • An embedded electricity network that offers residents significant discounts of up to 20 per cent savings on power bills

With all of these services, BlueCHP was still able to deliver each apartment for under $300,000 in construction costs, Mr Steimbeisser said.

The Gardens was built in a “highly sought-after location”, in close proximity to the University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown Hospital, Macarthur Square shopping centre and the Macarthur Railway Station.

“The Gardens is a great example of how community housing providers can support the federal government’s plans to increase the supply of affordable housing,” BlueCHP chief executive Charles Northcote said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the government to maximise the amount of new affordable housing we can bring to the market.”

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