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Dunlop Builders Created a Massive Timber Curtain Wall

Dunlop builder's new Wanaka hub features Abodo's highly stable Vulcan timber, proving their confidence in the product in this harsh environment.

With freezing winters and hot, dry summers, New Zealand’s Central Otago region really puts wood to the test.

In collaboration with expert European joinery manufacturers Thermadura and leading architects Pac Studio, Dunlop Builders has installed a massive, solid timber curtain wall made from Abodo’s super stable Vulcan timber at their new Wanaka headquarters - proving their confidence in the product in this harsh environment.

After 20 years in the industry, Dunlop Builders are leading the way in terms of sustainability. The Wanaka-based construction company has an extensive recycling programme for their site waste and offcuts, and is well informed around products and materials that reduce the carbon and environmental footprint of a build. For Managing Director Bryce Dunlop, the next step in this progression was to create their own hub using the materials and systems they are advocating for.

“You just have to look around at what's happening in the world to know that, as a business, we have a responsibility to make sure we’re doing the right thing environmentally, and we aim to be an industry leader in this regard,” he says.

“That’s one of the reasons for doing our own building and operating out of it because then we can walk that talk, especially around using low carbon products and materials. It’s about making sure we have the knowledge to influence and input in the design stages around good use of materials, which ultimately we will all benefit from.”

“That’s one of the reasons for doing our own building and operating out of it because then we can walk that talk, especially around using low carbon products and materials. It’s about making sure we have the knowledge to influence and input in the design stages around good use of materials, which ultimately we will all benefit from.”

One of these materials is thermally modified Abodo Vulcan eco-timber, an Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified, rapidly renewable timber – grown here in New Zealand and certified carbon negative.

Vulcan is used extensively throughout the Hub for wall linings and ceilings, and most notably for the stiles, mullions and frames of the 10.5m wide and 3m high timber curtain wall on the northern, street-facing side of the office space.

“The Abodo Vulcan timber is thermally modified (treated with heat and steam rather than chemicals), so has a really nice rich colour, finishes really well and holds its form,” says Bryce. “It has the characteristics of traditional tight grain timbers but, as it’s a New Zealand product, the carbon footprint is far less than imported timbers.”

Furthering their quest to tread lightly on the land, Dunlop Builders set out and achieved New Zealand’s first certified Passive House office building.

As a Passive House Institute approved product for window joinery, this became another check for Abodo Vulcan.

Timbers in general will suppress thermal bridging in windows, and for this triple glazed curtain wall, which measures around 53mm thick, it was required to create a solid, strong frame that could hold the weight and withstand any weather.

For such a knowledgeable construction company working in what can be a severe environment, using Abodo for a window of this size is evidence of a high level of confidence in the product. This trust has been built through experience, with Abodo specified in many of Dunlop’s builds in the Central Otago area.

“Most of our sites now are using Abodo, as there is a strong alignment with sustainability focused architects and clients, with preference over imported timbers. It’s a good shift,” says Bryce.