Pre-drilled boards attached with countersunk stainless steel screws hang at a 25-degree angle from the vertical axis clad the centers roughly 6,000 square feet of façade.

Pre-drilled boards attached with countersunk stainless steel screws hang at a 25-degree angle from the vertical axis clad the center’s roughly 6,000 square feet of façade.

Credit: Tony Miller

Bold, original, and non-institutional were the objectives behind the Billard Leece Partnership’s design of the 17,200-square-foot Nexus GP Super Clinic in Wallan township, Victoria, Australia. The wood cladding adds warmth to this wellness-focused, primary healthcare facility. Even more striking are the raked glulam timber fins, which shade the abundance of windows.

For the clinic’s fins and cladding, the Melbourne-based firm selected white cypress, a native species favored for its durability and natural resistance to pests. The cypress on the project also adheres to the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (AS 4708), a set of economic, social, environmental, and cultural requirements for forest managers.

However, the choice of glulam timbers for the shading system was less about sustainability and more about function. Victoria is a sunny, high UV–index area. Australia’s building codes mandate that 80 percent of a structure’s north, south, and east façades are shaded at the height of solar exposure. The fins’ dimensions were tweaked to maximize shading and minimize heat-load. Final lengths range from 20 feet to 31 feet; depths vary between 11.8 inches and 23.6 inches. When the depth changes within a single timber member, the architects decided against butting the two timbers since the joint would be susceptible to weather and a potential maintenance issue. The consistency in the material composition and size of glulam timber meant that each fin could comprise a single piece.

“At the end of the day,” says project architect Daniel Rafter, “we were able to exceed the requirements by working with the achievable depths available in the glue-laminated products.” The façade and shading system took four months to construct. The super clinic opened in December 2013.

The seams and butt joints of the shiplap boards are tongue-and-groove for a snug fit, which contributes to reduced material waste and installation time.

The seams and butt joints of the shiplap boards are tongue-and-groove for a snug fit, which contributes to reduced material waste and installation time.

Credit: Tony Miller


  • The depth of the timber fins increased in areas of fenestration to provide additional shading. The designers also added a perforated metal screen between the timber fins at the window head on the north façade, where the exposure is at its greatest.

    Credit: Tony Miller

    The depth of the timber fins increased in areas of fenestration to provide additional shading. The designers added a perforated metal screen between the timber fins at window heads on the north façade, where the exposure is at its greatest.

Note: This article has been updated since first publication with additional details about the project's construction, and to correct the Australian state in which the project is located.