The famous Queenslander tradition of building houses upon wooden stilts is escalating to a whole other level on Thursday – or 10 levels, to be exact.

The sod-turning ceremony at 5 King Street in Brisbane will be a groundbreaking event in more than just in the literal sense. When complete in 2018, 45 metres of the 52-metre office tower will qualify as the world’s highest to be held aloft not by steel and concrete, but timber and glue.

The project is the latest of a flurry of engineered wood towers in Australia using solutions such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), the load-bearing material on projects such as StrongBuild’s The Gardens Macarthur affordable housing project in Campbelltown. Sydney’s International House at Barangaroo is constructed from CLT and the similar Glulam method.

According to Chris Ammundsen, the Aurecon lead structural engineer behind 5 King Street, the CLT process involves glueing thick layers of wood together with the grain alternating at 90 degree angles.

“Using timber as the primary structural load-bearing element creates interesting questions during the design process of any building,” he says.

“For example; how might we minimise the risk of chainsaw attack?”