Timber Construction Day: creating and developing opportunities

More than 300 people from across Switzerland took part in the Timber Construction Day in Biel/Bienne. NRP 66 also presented its travelling exhibtion.

The aim of the Timber Construction Day was to reveal new opportunities in particular in the fields of planning, energy efficiency, hybrid construction and noise protection in buildings. The primary question focused on how to implement all of these different aspects together, and how to manage the interfaces between them most efficiently. The best solutions arise when, in addition to the architect, all of the other specialists such as the building engineers, building systems planners, timber-frame manufacturers and structural engineers are able to add their contribution and are also willing to explore outside their traditional paths.

"Maximising the impact of wood is about using it, not showing it off"

This bold statement was used by the architect Willi Frei to illustrate the thought processes behind the planning and integration of timber in a range of construction projects, in particular the "Microcity" project in Neuchâtel. The planners had achieved an extremely compact solution thanks to their hybrid concept of a concrete core and timber structure, with prefabricated timber elements facilitating speed of both delivery and execution.

Aiming for simple solutions rather than complexity

Walter Schär made a plea for the "timber entrepreneur" to be integrated into the planning processes as early as possible, and for simple, reliable solutions to be sought. A change of perspective could also help bring projects forward, as Schär clearly demonstrated.

Multi-storey timber construction has a future in Switzerland

The results of a market study conducted by Birgit Neubauer-Letsch from the Bern University of Applied Sciences revealed that the popularity of multi-storey timber construction has climbed, with 640 buildings approved in 2013 (average of 3 to 4 storeys). The majority of respondents saw good growth prospects for timber and hybrid construction of buildings with 5 to 6 storeys, both in terms of new builds and of renovation projects.

Timber construction needs new ideas

New concepts and innovations will be needed if we are to continue to promote wood as a building material. NRP 66 "Resource Wood" is perfectly placed to take this forward and will certainly produce new solutions in the coming years. The next meeting has therefore already been put in the diary, for 21 May 2015.