Thanks to innovative construction materials like cross-laminated timber (CLT) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL), wooden buildings are no longer mere houses made of sticks.

Attracted by the aesthetic and environmental benefits of timber, structural engineers have overseen a lumber comeback, from Landlease’s International House development in Sydney’s Barangaroo district to Brisbane’s newly completed 25 King, which is the world’s tallest commercial timber building.

But with ambitious projects in Tokyo, Chicago, and London eyeing far greater heights for timber as a building material, engineers and the public need to be assured wood can match up with concrete and steel when it comes to safety and stability.

That’s why Griffith University’s Associate Professor Benoit Gilbert has been putting timber to the test, using high-tech machinery to better understand how timber behaves in a variety of situations.

Gilbert’s current tests focus on progressive collapse, a term that describes the severe failure of a structure due to something going wrong in one part of it. That could be a gas explosion, a fire or if a car were to collide with the building.

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