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Home and Building, Volume 37 Number 6 (1975)

Timber Replaces Steel

Timber Replaces Steel

Timber has emerged as an important engineering component in major buildings overseas and there is undoubtedly great scope for develop-ment in this field in New Zealand, the general manager of Manukau Timber Company Limited, Mr Colin Mason said recently on his return from an extensive study of building developments in Britain, Europe, Scandinavia and North America. Even in the traditional brick-and-stone countries, such as Britain, laminated timber beams were replacing steel as the main structural component in many commercial and recreational buildings.

"Among the reasons for the swing to laminated timber", said Mr Mason, "are its high fire rating — much higher than steel — the ease and speed of erection and the flexibility it gives to shape and form."

For a timber country he believed New Zealand was lagging in timber engineering. He thought it logical to make far greater use of a rich natural resource and available skills and save the country valuable overseas funds.

Mr Mason said that in Germany, where 50 per cent of all houses were of timber, 15 per cent were constructed from pre-fabricated section. In New Zealand, where 90 per cent of all houses were timber, there was obvious scope for dramatic development in this area.

Insulation was another area where New Zealand had much to learn from overseas. "Admittedly we have moved strongly into wall and ceiling insulation but we have virtually ignored the area where there is often the greatest loss of heat in our homes and offices — through the windows," he said.

"Overseas double glazing is just about the norm and surely this is an area where we can simply and cheaply reduce heat loss and help reduce demand on the nation's power."