World’s Tallest Timber Hotel Planned for Adelaide


Adelaide-based developer Thrive Construct has unveiled plans to build the world’s tallest timber hotel in the city’s CBD and a second timber hotel in regional Whyalla as part of a $300-million investment in tourism infrastructure in South Australia.​​

The 31-storey Adelaide tower would sit behind and on top of the former MLC building, which is heritage-listed, at 185 Victoria Square, which has been described as the city’s first post-war skyscraper. 

It would be built at 187 Victoria Square, a 500sq m site at the rear of Beacon House, now used as a car park

If realised, the tower will front the corner of Franklin Street and will be next to the Adelaide GPO and the new BHP building.

With an end value of $170 million, the carbon-neutral timber tower designed by Cox Architecture will feature 324 rooms, 22 residential apartments, a sky terrace on the 12th floor and will be topped with a rooftop bar. 

Thrive Construct executive chairman Barrie Harrop said the proposed tower was earmarked to open in 2024. 

“Our hotel development plan will provide an unprecedented boost to the South Australian tourism sector, driving domestic and international visitor spend into the state,” Harrop said.

The opportunity to develop a hotel at Victoria Square follows Thrive signing a joint development deed with Dim Georgiadis, who represents the 11 owners of 185-187 Victoria Square.

Thrive’s plans come five years after a different group of investors pitched a similar Cox Architecture-designed tower for the site, but one that consisted of apartments rather than a hotel.

▲ The same materials and prefabrication technologies will be used to construct a 164-room hotel and 49 apartments on the site of the Foreshore Motor Inn in Whyalla. Image: Cox Architecture

Harrop said the ownership group would retain the hotel for about three years, allowing it to mature as an operating hotel aimed at millennial travellers.

The developer had five leading international hoteliers bidding for the Victoria Square site from which it has selected one preferred hotelier with a brand targeting a younger demographic.

The hotelier, to be announced at a later date, will also operate the Whyalla site that will include 164 hotel suites and 49 apartments and is surrounded by a 100-year-old botanic garden.

Plans involve the prefabrication of the cross-laminated timber offsite, which will be delivered in modules for later onsite assembly.

Upon completion, the Victoria Square building will be the tallest hotel in the world made from cross-laminated timber.

At present, the world’s tallest standing timber hotel is the Wood Hotel in Brumunddal, Norway, rising 18 floors, with 72 hotel rooms.

▲ Current record holder, the Wood Hotel in Norway.

Wider use of CLT is being led by a push for greater sustainability, as well as the safety and efficiency benefits it provides.

Known as ‘jumbo plywood’, CLT consists of layers of timber lamellas glued together, with the grain patterns alternating to imbue the same strength as pre-cast concrete panels and steel.

Buildings made from engineered timber have a significantly lower carbon footprint than other buildings during construction and subsequent operation.

Australia’s largest engineered timber commercial building, 25 King, was completed in Brisbane’s Bowen Hills in 2018 and reaches 10 storeys or 45m in height. 

Recent take-up of cross-laminated timber has been modest but planned projects such as TrueGreen Positive Impact’s 49-storey Sydney tower and Hines’ Collingwood office tower in Melbourne are expected to boost the material’s use sharply as work picks up.

Melbourne’s Grange Development also has plans for the tallest timber building in the world in Perth, rising 50 storeys and comprising 245 apartments.

Atlassian’s $1-billion-plus headquarters in Sydney’s Tech Central precinct is also billed as the world’s tallest hybrid timber tower. Atlassian’s plan to build its new Sydney headquarters with only half the embodied carbon of a conventional equivalent.

The approved 39-storey tower is expected to begin construction in the coming months with completion expected in 2025.


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