The future is hybrid – two ARC grants for visionary Valipour

CIES Associate Professor Hamid ValipourCIES Associate Professor Hamid Valipour has long been a man on a mission- a mission to reduce the construction industry’s currently massive carbon footprint.

His work over the last ten years has focused on the development of innovative structural systems with lower energy and carbon footprints, which are easier to fabricate, assemble and dismantle than those of current practice.  

Valipour’s vision is for the widespread uptake of hybrid structural systems that fully exploit the advantages of steel, concrete and engineered timber to reduce the self-weight, cost and negative environmental impact of current structures, and also enhance opportunities for deconstruction, reusing and upgrading of structures.

And now it seems Dr Valipour’s time might have come – after he won not one but TWO highly sought after and extremely competitive Australian Research Council Discovery Projects grants at the end of 2021.   

One Discovery Project (DP) is on the topic of torsion in innovative timber composite floors, which have the potential to significantly improve the speed and efficiency and reduce the carbon and energy footprint of the construction industry.  The other DP is looking at best-practice connections for hybrid steel-timber-concrete structures.  (See fuller details of Discovery Projects below).

Hamid is Chief Investigator on both projects working with eminent CIES colleagues, Professor Mark Bradford for the topic of timber composite floors, and Professor Stephen Foster, Dean of UNSW Engineering, on connections. Both are regarded as global leaders in their respective fields – steel and concrete.  Add Valipour’s expertise and research passion – timber!

It is timber which is the magic ingredient - which can transform the industry. Currently, buildings consist of reinforced concrete or steel-concrete composites, cast in situ. Cement is poured into formwork and propping is then required for at least a week. This is a wait of at least 10 days between storeys. Building with steel-timber composites (STCs) means there is no waiting and upward construction can be seamlessly ongoing.

Alongside no wait is less weight. Timber density is only 20% of concrete density. This reduces cranage and injury risk, and increases efficiency of moving, lifting and placing panels. Hybrid construction becomes realistic: building atop older structures diminishing the social disruption of demolition, reducing waste and increasing construction adaptability.

Hamid and his CIES colleague Laureate Professor Mark Bradford (chief investigators on DP160104092) have already demonstrated the feasibility and superior structural performance of innovative steel-timber systems compared to conventional steel-concrete composite. Hamid has also been busy developing, testing and numerically simulating hybrid/composite timber-concrete and steel-timber connections.

The innovative composite systems developed by Hamid and his research team can be easily dismantled at the end of building service life that will, in turn, significantly facilitate recycling, reusing and/or repurposing of the construction materials and hence reduce construction waste.

Hamid knows this is where CIES can be an industry leader in research and teaching.  He is equally confident that as research and development continues, more buildings and designers will take advantage of innovative hybrid steel-timber-concrete systems.  That they are the way of the future.

And now it seems that the Australian Research Council agrees with him! 


Project details for A/Prof Hamid Valipour’s two 2022 ARC Discovery Projects: 

DP220101038Torsion in innovative timber composite floors. A/Professor Hamid Valipour; Professor Mark Bradford:  

Application of lightweight sustainably sourced timber panels combined with steel beams or reinforced concrete slabs in composite floors has the potential to significantly improve the speed and efficiency, and reduce the carbon and energy footprint of the construction industry. 

This project aims to produce world-first benchmark experimental data and advanced numerical and simple analytical models required for efficient, yet safe and reliable analysis and design of timber-concrete and steel-timber composite floors subjected to complex 3-dimensional loading scenarios that involve combinations of torsion, bending and shear.
The outcomes are expected to promote innovation and advance knowledge in the field of structural mechanics.


DP220100841: Connections for hybrid steel-timber-concrete structures. A/Professor Hamid Valipour; Professor Stephen Foster 

Connections play a vital role in overall performance, reliability, and adaptability of civil structures. This project aims to develop innovative, easy to fabricate and efficient connections for hybrid structural systems that fully exploit advantages of steel, concrete and engineered timber to reduce the self-weight, cost and negative environmental impact, and enhance opportunities for deconstruction, reusing and upgrading of structures. Structural performance of the connections will be assessed by laboratory testing and advanced numerical modelling. Comprehensive knowledge on stiffness, strength, and ductility and world-first provisions for safe and cost-effective design of the hybrid steel-timber-concrete structures will be generated.

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