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Oakhill College Innovation Hub, Australia – optimal ways of using materials lead to new solutions

Oakhill College Innovation Hub is a 4,200 sqm hybrid construction project for a learning space located in NSW, Australia. These brand-new educational facilities on four floors for the entire community of the private Oakhill College Secondary School were completed in late 2022. Peikko Group delivered its DELTABEAM® slim floor solution for the project.

Oakhill College Innovation Hub provides state-of-the-art facilities, throughout large multi-purpose spaces, hybrid workshops (timber, fabrication, and robotics), computer and graphics workshops, and science and laboratory spaces. The project features the re-landscaping of the entire center of the campus, known as the Hilltop Precinct, and placing all teaching spaces facing open onto a central learning precinct linking all buildings with covered walkways, new hard surface, and green areas, in addition to ramped walkways to lower levels.

The Innovation Hub is built on the northern side of the College site, oriented towards the heart of the campus to the south. The design has been developed to reduce potential impacts on nearby residential properties. The project’s construction company is FDC Construction & Fitout, and Northrop Consulting Engineers is responsible for the structural engineering. The architectural design is made by Architecture BVN, whereas the precaster is Viridi Group. Peikko’s deliveries for the project took place in 2021 and consisted of 33 DELTABEAMs®, with a total length of 270 meters.


Hybrid timber construction is taking a foothold in Australia

Oakhill College Innovation Hub is designed as a mass timber structure using Passivhaus principles. Passivhaus refers to buildings created to rigorous energy-efficient design standards so that they maintain an almost constant temperature. It is a voluntary standard for energy efficiency, which reduces the building's ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.

Besides energy efficiency, the Oakhill College Innovation Hub is built as a hybrid structure combining timber, steel, and concrete in a way that brings out the best properties of each material.

“Peikko’s DELTABEAM® is an ideal solution for hybrid construction. For example, in this case, the HVAC installations became easier as no lowered ceilings are needed. Integrated fireproofing, open flexible spaces, and a slim floor solution enable functional and durable school buildings”, concluded Harri Onikki, Technical Sales Manager at Peikko Australia.

The importance of environmental friendliness has recently started to increase in Australia. This need results in the increased use of timber to reduce CO2 emissions in construction. Timber is used more than previously, but also in different ways, and the standards are now allowing for higher timber construction as well. The Australian construction market is mainly a cast-in-situ business with plenty of workforce available. Changing the traditional way of building is slow, but the rise of timber is already seen in the market.

“There is a trend towards more sustainable materials in construction, but for taller commercial buildings a hybrid approach brings together the best of all materials”, said Nick Hewson, Chief Design Officer & Head of Product Development at the Viridi Group.


DELTABEAM® creates optimal outcomes for school buildings

DELTABEAM® Slim Floor Structure is the ideal solution to guarantee the optimal outcome. Compatible with all types of slabs and columns, DELTABEAM® allows for combining renewable and ecological timber with two of the strongest materials: steel and concrete. With DELTABEAM® one can build open spaces with long spans and smooth ceilings, even with architecturally demanding shapes. DELTABEAM® Slim Floor Structure also enables easy HVAC installations.

One of the most significant impacts of DELTABEAM® is how it contributes to making buildings more sustainable through its ability to make floors slimmer. Slim floor buildings require less cladding for the same usable interior volume, which in turn reduces heating and cooling energy consumption. Moreover, the reinforcement inside the beam ensures integrated and non-toxic fireproofing, which offers additional savings and improves the safety of the building.

“DELTABEAM® works well with low head height and big services requirements”, structural engineer Matthew Burke of Northrop Consulting Engineers said.

In Oakhill College Innovation Hub project, DELTABEAM® was combined with Strongfloor solution created by Viridi group. The building was structurally optimized to use all the materials and solutions in a way and place where they best work and bring out most of their benefits.  For the end customer, the outcome is both user-friendly and cost-efficient.

“We had developed Strongfloor, our own unique timber-concrete composite floor system, and had seen the DELTABEAM® used in conjunction with similar systems in Europe. DELTABEAM® integrates perfectly with our Strongfloor system – a huge bonus as the structural depths required are very similar. The combination provides a very robust and high-performing solution,” Hewson commented.


Stronger together

“I believe that the key to the project’s success lies in collaboration. Peikko’s solutions together with Strongfloor were a match made in heaven, but moreover, we did it together. Thanks to several regular meetings, good preparation and a genuine team spirit, the project went smoothly and was delivered in time”, described Harri Onikki.

“The level of engagement from Peikko was very high through the BIM design and detailing process with their models integrating well into our master model”, Nick Hewson concluded.

Since the start of Oakhill College Innovation Hub project in 2019, new collaboration projects between Peikko and Viridi Group are already ongoing.


Hybrid future introduces standardized connections

Peikko is also working on establishing a local pilot project for PUUCO® Timber Connections in Australia. PUUCO® product family is a recent innovation that offers standardized connections for hybrid construction.

“It is always slow to introduce something new for the market. Naturally, all Peikko’s solutions are not yet well-known in Australia, and it is important to have references from the domestic market”, explained Onikki.

“In hybrid construction, Peikko already has a strong foothold. With DELTABEAM®, we can truly create additional value by optimizing the way the materials are used. Having the focus always on the needs of the end-user has encouraged us to find and use out-of-the-box solutions, which have eventually led to optimal outcomes.”

For more informatrion see Oakhill College Innovation Hub Project Reference.