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Sydney could soon be home to a giant 'hybrid timber' building

Key Points
  • One of the world's leading cities, Sydney, Australia, is home to some interesting architecture. 
  • In the years ahead, it could be home to a building that uses timber, steel and solar panels. 
This image depicts how the building could look once built.

With its world-famous beaches, fine weather and top class restaurants, Sydney, Australia, is an attractive destination for workers and tourists alike. It is also boasts some iconic twentieth century structures and buildings such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, and in the next few years, the city could be home to another example of innovative design.

On Thursday, Australian tech firm Atlassian unveiled plans to construct what it described as "the world's tallest hybrid timber building," which it hopes will be both a sustainable and visually striking headquarters.

Standing around 40 storeys tall, the design of the building has been developed by SHoP, an architecture firm in New York, and Australia's BVN.

It will incorporate timber and a façade of glass and steel that will also use solar panels and have "self-shade capabilities." Plans are also in place for a staggered outdoor garden to be integrated into the structure.

According to Atlassian, the development will have a number of targets, including using 50% less "embodied carbon" in construction, compared to normal buildings. When it comes to energy use, the goal is 50% less when compared to a new, conventional building. The idea is for the tower to run on 100% renewable energy from its opening.

"We're embarking on this project at a critical time," Scott Farquhar, the co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian, said in a statement. "Projects like these will help the state and the nation bounce back from the massive impact of Covid-19."

While it has been used in buildings and structures for thousands of years, timber could also have a role to play looking ahead, and has been used in a number of interesting recent projects.

These include the 85.4 meter (a little over 280 feet) tall Mjøstårnet building in Norway, which used a combination of glue-laminated timber, known as glulam, and cross-laminated timber.

Back in Sydney, the Atlassian building will be a focal point of a larger development called Tech Central.

On Thursday, the New South Wales Government announced funding of 48.2 million Australian dollars ($33.12 million) to support the Tech Central scheme, which will offer start-ups and "scale-ups" 50,000 square meters of space to develop their businesses. 

As concerns about sustainability and energy use mount, the way that buildings – both residential and commercial – operate is changing. 

Whether it's smart lighting which can detect whether people are in a room or not, or apps that can remotely control heating systems, technology is helping to drive this shift.

New building materials will also have a role to play. Earlier this month Boral – an Australian firm that specializes in building and construction materials – announced the launch of a five-year partnership with the University of Technology Sydney.

In a statement, the company said that the partnership would look to "accelerate product innovation, and the research, development and commercialisation of low carbon concrete."