MTC inked a historic tripartite corporate-public-private sector collaboration with the Public Works Department (PWD) and Ahmad Asmadi Architecture (A3) to jointly promote andadopt Glulam-based designs in Government-funded projects in Malaysia.
Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), A3 would prepare the design concept and technical design development. The PWD would provide engineering design, including detailing and specifications to enhance the capabilityto design Glulam structures and monitor the project while MTC would engage a suitably qualified structural engineer to check, evaluate and verify the engineering details prepared for the design footprint of a Glulam surau (Muslem prayer house).
Glulam, or glued-laminated timber, is a versatile timber construction material which is flexible, stronger than steel, fire resistant, easy to machine and assemble, and most importantly, ecologically sustainable.
Structural glued-laminated timber is manufactured by bonding assemblies of high-strength, kiln-dried lumber, with waterproof adhesives. The laminating process in Glulam allows timber to be used for much longer spans, heavier loads and more complex shapes in construction, giving engineers and architects the freedom to think outside the box and design a variety of shapes, from straight beams to graceful, curved arches – without compromising on structural or strength requirements.
MTC CEO Cheah Kam Huan said the MoU would enable all three parties to cooperate and contribute their respective expertise and resources to spearhead innovative breakthroughs in the local construction industry through the effective application of Glulam in design.
“MTC has been advocating Glulam since 2007 through our various promotional, educational and training programmes. PWD’s involvement in the MoU marks a significant step toward generating a greater awareness of Glulam amongst the public sector as most of the public buildings are constructed by PWD,” said Cheah.
“The MoU signifies our commitment to increase understanding on the superiority and advantages of Glulam and its potential to shape the future of the country’s architectural landscape,” he added. The collaboration by the troika is focused on the design and construction of a surau
Commenting on PWD’s involvement in the project, its Senior Director of Civil Engineering, Structure and Bridge Branch, Datuk Dr. Abdul Aziz Haji Arshad considered the cooperation as a bridgehead for PWD to champion the cause of promoting local timber and to introduce Glulam to the public.
“As safety comes first in constructing a building, Glulam is a suitable construction material as it has very credible qualities. It performs very well in the intense heat of fire, making it extremely fire safe and easily fulfilling the fire resistance standards. This initial project offers a small yet important stepping stone in advocating the use of a renewable resource such as Glulam in buildings,” he said.
PWD Senior General Manager, Ir. Muhammad Azman Jamrus added that Glulam’s superior durability and easy to machine and assemble characteristics make it an ideal and excellent construction material for the surau project.
“Unfortunately, there is a common perception that Glulam or timber in general is not durable, not strong and more susceptible to fire damage compared to other construction materials such as steel and concrete. This is simply untrue and we hope that this collaboration will help to debunk public misconceptions on timber and Glulam in particular,” said Ir. Azman.
Meanwhile, A3 Principal Ahmad Asmadi Mohammad who conceptualised the surau design said that a surau is a public structure that reaches out to the people and has the ability to attract attention and become an iconic structure especially in residential areas.
“Glulam is visually attractive and creates unique and aesthetically pleasant structures. As Glulam can be prefabricated, it can be easily transported to the construction site. This greatly reduces construction time as well as transportation and labour costs,” he added.
Also present at the MoU signing was Ove Arup UK Associate Director, Andrew Lawrence who is one of the world’s leading timber specialists and has been engaged by MTC to offer consultation on the project. In his presentation entitled From Log Post to Laminated Beam – The Birth of A Modern Construction Material , Lawrence showcased various renowned structures that he has worked on including the highly acclaimed 2005 Serpentine Pavilion in London, England, the Centre Pompidou in Metz, France and the Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain, demonstrating the endless possibilities of using Glulam in design.
“Structures made of Glulam have been successfully constructed all over the world for the past 100 years. This project gives me the opportunity to impart my skills and knowledge with hopes of enhancing industry players’ understanding of timber engineering and design,” said Lawrence.
Besides the MoU signing, Lawrence’s visit to Malaysia also involved a series of activities arranged and facilitated by MTC including a Timber Talk and workshops for the surau project team, architects, engineers, builders, timber manufacturers, university lecturers, government agencies and research institutions.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Civil Engineering Deputy Dean (Graduate Studies & Research) Professor Dr. Badorul Hisham Abu Bakar who attended the talk by Lawrence believed that the collaboration was a right move by MTC to promote timber and Glulam through a Government agency such as PWD.
“Although we still have a long way to go, I am confident that Glulam has great potential to grow, just like in other developed countries that are rich in timber resources such as Finland and Norway. Hence, it is important for us to develop our local expertise and our system provider, increase engineers’ confidence level in using Glulam and improve the knowledge on timber engineering in the local higher educational institutions,” he added.
Another participant at the event, Burhanudin Othman commended MTC’s efforts in educating local industry players on the latest developments and application of Glulam.
“It’s refreshing and inspiring to see the different and distinctive structures all over the world that apply Glulam in their design. This is my first time at such an event organised by MTC and it really opened my eyes on the opportunities available in our timber-rich country. I hope to participate in future programmes organised by the Council, to not only learn more about Glulam but also to discover how industry players can play a role in contributing to the growth of the country’s timber industry,” said Burhanudin.