Pryda rafter trusses have played a vital role in the construction of a 100 per cent sustainable and recyclable Meditation and Indigenous Cultural Centre at Bentleigh Secondary College â€“ following its recognition as the worldâ€™s most sustainable education institution at last yearâ€™s International Green Awards.
The brief for Suter Architects was to design a building where college students could go to meditate in a calming environment, would last at least 200 years and have a minimal carbon footprint.
To achieve this, the architects designed the centre with curved walls and roof and used only timber in its construction. Silver top ash was used for the external wall cladding and hoop pine plywood for the interior, with internal flooring and exterior decks made from blackbutt.
Builder, Dzine Construction approached Pryda directly to design the rafter trusses for the job. The company is well known for both its residential and commercial work up to 10 storeys high and recent projects include the Freemasons Hospital maternity ward and the Old Brunswick Club.
Pryda engineering associate Nick Cui carried out the initial work using Pryda Build software to incorporate the rafter trusses (Pryda Span with metal webs) into a complex design of curved walls and varying heights before forwarding the file to several Pryda fabricators for quotes.
â€œBecause of the curved roof and walls, each truss was a different span ranging from 1.2 metres to 11.6 metres,â€ he said. â€œSpeed of both design and manufacture was of the essence because the builder only approached us three weeks before Christmas. The college wanted the building completed on time, which meant construction continued over the holiday break.â€
Mr Cui said, â€œPryda Span was particularly applicable to the meditation centre because the long spans achieved excellent performance, truss ends could be customised for various support configurations, the open webs allowed services to be passed through the roof spaces without any cutting of the trusses and they were easy to install.â€
Dzine Construction erected all the rafter trusses in little more than a day and found the open webs ideal for the later installation of services such as plumbing and air conditioning.
Timba Truss at Carrum Downs was the successful recipient for the job and manager Michael Burdack said the company had been keen to take on the challenge the building represented.
â€œWe regularly supply open web roof trusses to school buildings and have manufactured these for many unusual shaped premises in the past,â€ he said.
Timba Truss, which has been a Pryda fabricator for about 30 years, was not fazed by the tight deadline for the 135 lineal metres required for the centre â€“ completing the manufacture easily within the allotted time frame.
â€œWe are literally designing and producing trusses almost immediately (30 minutes from design to production) and the challenge is to ensure the modelling and design is always correct,â€ Mr Burdack said.
Using the latest Pryda Build truss design software, Timba Truss was able to utilise the CAD files provided by Suter Architects to ensure the trusses were designed to match the profile of the building.
For Bentleigh Secondary College, construction of the meditation centre was a win-win situation. It added further to the institutionâ€™s sustainability commitment â€“ following installation of 125,000 and 50,000 litre water tanks to harvest rainwater for toilet flushing and establishment of the Moorooboon Wetland area within the college grounds to capture any excess water not covered by the tanks.
As a result, total mains water usage has dropped by 91 per cent and the college gained gold accreditation from the Victorian Governmentâ€™s â€œWater â€“ Learn it! Live it! Program â€“ the first Victorian secondary school to do so.
Other energy saving and greenhouse reducing emission initiatives include installation of a 5.25 kilowatt photovoltaic solar system and wind turbine (that will power the meditation centre), and the planting of 2,000 square metres of native forest on school grounds.
So impressed was Pryda with these community sustainability initiatives that the company donated the nailplate costs and Pryda Span rafter trusses used in the meditation centre project. The builder, other product suppliers and the architect also chipped in providing services and material at cost, resulting in an overall saving of about $250,000.
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