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First look at NTU’s newest wooden wonder that will house the Nanyang Business School

Derek Rodriguez sizes up the newest kid on the block, which is springing up in the South Spine, and finds out what’s the big deal about it

Timber! Another record looks set to fall when Asia’s largest wooden building opens for business in NTU in 2021. The 40,000-square-metre whopper will be the new home for the Nanyang Business School and will house classrooms and labs for other schools and offices, including the Renaissance Engineering Programme and the NTU Institute of Science & Technology for Humanity (NISTH), the University’s research arm that studies how the fourth industrial revolution affects our lives and behaviours.

Designed to occupy the space between The Hive and the School of Physical & Mathematical Sciences, the building’s six storeys will contain an auditorium, a multipurpose hall, two lecture theatres and 25 smart classrooms for flipped learning. Outdoor terraces and a café will provide casual spaces for students to collaborate or unwind.

NTU’s new academic building will be our most ambitious sustainable construction project to date. Ninety-five per cent of our buildings are already certified Green Mark Platinum, and we are seeking to be the greenest university campus in the world. Bringing together our approaches to innovation and sustainability, the new academic building will be the largest wooden building in Asia, and it will exemplify our distinctive NTU Smart Campus and show that we ‘walk the talk’ of our commitment to sustainability.
– NTU President Prof Subra Suresh

The building will be the second in NTU, after The Wave, to be constructed using Mass-Engineered Timber. “Buildings using Mass-Engineered Timber have a lower carbon footprint than other modern buildings as the material is harvested from mature trees and new trees are planted to replace them. This prevents trees from decaying and emitting carbon back to the atmosphere,” says Mr Ang Lian Aik, Group Director for Construction Productivity and Quality at the Building & Construction Authority. “Using this material also offers a more comfortable, cooling and aesthetic environment, in addition to having better noise control and acoustics.”

Mass-Engineered Timber is up to 30 per cent lighter than concrete yet has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than both steel and concrete. Its inherent strength lowers the need for pillars, allowing for more spacious and open layouts. In the case of a fire, the surface of the timber facing the fire will char, forming a protective layer that insulates against the fire. The timber is also chemically treated to keep termites away.