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NMIT building showcase EXPAN in a great manner.


The world’s first commercial EXPAN Pres-Lam engineered timber structure
is the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology Arts and Media building.


The winner of an architectural competition in 2010, the building was designed by Irving Smith Jack Architects, of Nelson, with engineering by Aurecon in Nelson. The LVL is supplied by Nelson Pine Industries and the off-site prefabrication of structural elements has been carried out by Hunterbond.


The NMIT building has been heralded as a breakthrough as a sustainable, local, innovative concept combining world firsts in its use of EXPAN Structural Timber Solutions with laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and a leading edge earthquake resistant design for a multi-storied wooden building.


Originating from a competition for a sustainable design that was predominantly local in focus and substantially made of wood, the building used a $1M award from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) to prove just what could be done.


Irving Smith Jack Architects Ltd (of Nelson) and multi-disciplinary engineers Aurecon were the winners, producing the design that is now a reality, against formidable competition from around New Zealand.


Comments from the judges of the design competition noted the use of innovative structural timber technology and the importance of locally produced materials ( all design and resources coming from within a 100k radius of the site).


Not only a stunning example of what can be achieved with a new attitude towards wooden construction, the NMIT Arts & Media Building has itself became a tool for teaching about engineering, design and architecture - with the design and construction process itself being worthy of study.


One of the key teaching points is around timber as a sustainable, renewable, locally available and less energy-intensive building material. The building is being used as a demonstration model to promote the use of wood in commercial construction.


James Stevenson-Wallace of MAF says "the building itself is a world first for both innovative use of wood in the structure of multi-storied buildings and incorporates new generation earthquake-resistant engineering technology, something we have all become more focused on in recent times.... there are significant benefits to New Zealand from this work."

This building marks a milestone for pre-stressed timber construction.


Project Director Andrew Irving says there has been incredible interest from around New Zealand and internationally in the project, with timber engineers from all over the globe eagerly following progress.


At the official opening by Steven Joyce, Minister of Tertiary Education, his parliamentary colleague Nick Smith noted (barely a month after Christchurch's first devastating earthquake) that " I think we will see literally hundreds of visitors to this building because of the earthquake building design".


In short...


The building claims world firsts in the use of wood within a multi-storied building

and the incorporation of new generation earthquake resistant engineering technology.

All beams, columns, and floors are of engineered timber construction - using LVL components - that are the equivalent of steel and concrete in terms of strength and performance (and cost analysis) but are much 'greener' and more sustainable.


in keeping with several worldwide trends towards showing rather than hiding the structural elements, many of the component and fixings remain visible.

Architect Andrew Irving is quoted as saying ' As architects, we see this as the first in a new generation of creative, sustainable, wooden structured and multi-storied buildings".


The EXPAN Structural Timber Solutions use LVL to offer greater strength that is dimensionally stable and resists warping and twisting.




Christchurch Content Mangement Website