We were excited about the opportunity in helping to convert the Grand Tea Room on the top floor of the old Farmers Building in Hobson St into an apartment, with a new mezzanine floor and cutting in a new stair all while keeping the character of the building. 

Click on the websites below to read the stories:


Increasing numbers of multi-storey timber structures are being constructed around the world as people recognise the benefits of this renewable resource. 

In fact, multi-storey timber design is now very advanced with numerous cutting-edge examples around the world, including: 

  • The 14-storey Treet block of flats in Bergen, Norway 


  • Brock Commons, an 18-storey wooden dormitory at the University of British Columbia, Canada 

  • Lend Lease in Australia have built a series of timber buildings, including the 10 storey 25 King Street, Brisbane 

  • Many examples in New Zealand, including the University of Canterbury’s new Science precinct 4 storey building 


In New Zealand, Structure Design is one of those leading the charge.


So, what are the benefits of multi-storey timber structures? 

  • They are quick and economical to construct, typically taking between one-third and one-half the time of a conventional building.

  •  Site costs are drastically reduced. For example, we recently considered a 4-storey apartment building in Auckland. Conventional construction would take between 12-14 weeks whereas, using our timber method, the building could be complete in just 4 weeks. 

  • Foundation costs are typically lower because timber structures weigh significantly less than a conventional structure, requiring smaller foundations and sometimes obviating the need for piling. 

  • Components can be kit-setted offsite and transported to site to be assembled by semi-skilled labourers, overseen by an experienced supervisor. This is good for projects in locations where materials and/or skilled labour are hard to come by. 

  • They are a good, sustainable resource. Wood is readily available in New Zealand and is sourced from FSC certified forests. 

  • They have proven seismic performance, backed up by substantial research. Fire rating and acoustic issues have also been solved. 

  • If you like the timber look, the kitset can come with the finishes attached. If not, it can be easily covered up. 

  • Multi-storey timber structures have been proven to withstand the test of time. For example, the five-storey pagoda of the Temple of the Flourishing Law in the Nara prefecture of Japan is one of the world’s oldest wooden buildings. It has withstood fire, rain, wind and earthquakes for 1,400 years. Analysis of the rings in the central pillar supporting the 32-metre structure suggests the wood it is made from was felled in 594 and construction is thought to have taken place soon after. 


Why us? 

We believe that there is a lot of potential in the timber industry and our aim is to use the timber to all its potential. Large scale timber has become a viable option and we will be part of the coming change, by devoting a significant part of our company resources to timber design. 

We always engineer the structure keeping in mind the architects and client expectations - the structure could be part of the architectural concept and timber is a perfect material to realise that. 

Our target is to optimise not only the design but also the manufacturing and the assembly process. (BIM integration with shop drawings process), so that a fully coordinated design, that makes the most of the variety of materials available, is what we do. 

If you’d like to explore the option of using timber to construct your project, contact us below.

Want to know how timber stacks up against conventional construction for your multi-storey project? 

Send us your chosen architectural concept and we’ll compare the time and costs of using timber with conventional construction so you can see the advantages. 



Congratulations to all architectural practices whose projects have been shortlisted for the 2020 Auckland Architecture Awards.

We were excited to see three projects on the list for which we engineered the structures:​

The University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering / Te Herenga Mātai Pūkaha B405 by Jasmax and Lab-works Architecture in association, in the Education category.

The architects on all three of these projects had impressive visions and were fantastic to work with. We are delighted your phenomenal work has been recognised.​

The University of Auckland’s Grafton Hall by Architectus in the Housing, Multi-unit category.

Sunderland Hangar at Catalina Bay by Cheshire Architects and Ignite Architects in the Commercial Architecture category.



Gibbs Farm is a privately-owned property located on the Kaipara Harbour, North West of Auckland. It features more than 400 hectares of mixed forestry plantations, lakes and open grass pasture providing numerous and varied sites for sculpture.

The initial development of The Farm as a sculpture park evolved as a result of owner, Alan Gibbs’ enthusiasm for contemporary art. Alan and his team have, since 1996, commissioned suitable international artists to design work specifically for The Farm, which the Wall Street Journal rates as amongst the best sculpture parks in the world.

Peter Boardman has acted as engineer and project manager for over 20 of the sculptures since 1998 and has involved several other members of the Structure Design team over the years.

“It’s thoroughly enjoyable to work with artists who think very differently from our typical project partners. Sculpture projects are challenging and exciting because they allow everyone involved in bringing the artist’s vision to life to create something that’s purely for pleasure. What always stands out is that on every project, every member of the project team becomes very invested in the sculpture” says Peter.

The process of selecting and implementing a work is an iterative one. Alan selects an artist who visits the site, comes back with ideas and then refines these.

Our team often gets involved relatively early on in the process. For example, sometimes when an artist is conceptualising they will talk to us so that we can:​

  • assess a potential sculpture’s feasibility,​

  • get an idea of budget from suppliers, and​

  • help them to review and revise their concept

Tim Rowe, architect and photographer, then photographs the site and superimposes the sculpture and we then get into the drawing and detailed engineering. This involves:

  • developing and analysing the engineering model,

  • producing the details,

  • obtaining approval from both the artist and Alan Gibbs,

  • revising things if we need to reduce costs

Once the sculpture has been approved, we develop the final drawings and go out to tender, or negotiate, with suppliers as appropriate. Finally, we oversee construction: project managing for time, cost and quality.

As with any project, it’s not all plain sailing. Peter explains:

“There was an opening party planned for the Tango Dancers’ sculpture, with 450 guests expected. For a while it didn’t look like the sculpture would be finished due to difficulties painting it. Of course, the paint then needed time to cure before the sculpture could be installed. We ended up with it in place 48 hours before the party, which was a huge relief. Disaster averted!”

It’s been, and continues to be, a real pleasure to get to use our structural engineering skills to help create something that’s totally different from other projects. Alan, and the Gibbs Family, have created a unique space with formidable sculptures by both New Zealand and international artists.


We look forward to being involved in new additions in the future.


Geyser Building (Suite 207),

100 Parnell Road, Parnell

Auckland 1052