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Sky High Design



Sky high design


Housing some of New Zealand’s most historic aircraft called for an exceptional building – a challenge met by clever design using laminated veneer lumber (LVL) technology.


Wellington’s Studio Pacific Architecture Ltd was charged with designing The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)’s new Aviation Display Hall in Auckland. Their vision has brought together functionality and form in a building as majestic as the aircraft it will house come September – and LVL, manufactured by STIC shareholder Carter Holt Harvey, has been central in bringing these two elements together.


The use of LVL portal frames has allowed column-free display space in the new hall, with its 42 metre span making it the largest clear span portal frame timber structure in New Zealand. Combining this span with a footprint of 2500 square metres and a 15.8 metre height will allow aircraft to be moved within the hall, and safely accommodate the aircraft tails and wingspan.


“LVL also brings a warmth and grace to the interior,” says Architect Marcellus Lilley, “This is what a natural, long-lasting material brings to the overall look.”


“Using LVL has been fundamentally important to how we present the building, and means we didn’t have to spend money in other areas to try and generate another aesthetic to work with.”


Working with timber has also allowed for flexibility in future planning, as internal framing can be fixed directly and easily to the LVL.


Despite its size, LVL technology enabled the MOTAT structure to go up in just 40 days. Project Manager for NZ Strong Construction Stephen Clarke, says the prefabricated LVL saved valuable time and space on site, and was quicker to fix secondary structures and services to than steel.


“The prefabrication also kept building costs down through avoiding excess labour, and eliminating onsite wastage of materials.”


Sustainable design was integral to the approach of the project. Sited on a closed landfill – essentially, recycled land, an independent analysis also showed that the LVL structure had less impact on the environment than a steel option.


MOTAT Museum Director, Jeremy Hubbard said they are committed to ensuring that the historic planes have space to be displayed properly in all their glory.


“The Display Hall will be a fantastic attraction for both local and international visitors where they will be able to learn about New Zealand’s aviation history and the stories associated with our magnificent aircraft collection, housed in a world class structure.


“We have created something that will last well into the future and will keep generations of Kiwis coming back to MOTAT to learn all about New Zealand’s aviation history,” he said.









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