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… timber – the construction material of the future

11/22/2016 | Talking about ...

By Gudrun Wölfl

Wood is a trendy material – and not only in the music scene (thanks to the 257ers) but also in the construction sector. Because timber is natural, calculable, timeless, modern, flexible and fascinatingly versatile.

Modern, unpretentious, elegant and yet cosily inviting: Timber simply creates a pleasant atmosphere. The Kindergarten of Bizau is a case in point.
Ok, I admit it: I’ve got the ‘timber bug’. Not only because I am working for a company dedicated to promoting the use of timber but above all because I am convinced that the future belongs to timber construction. Indeed, building in wood brings out the best in this natural material. And now new calculation and manufacturing processes have made timber suitable for a whole range of buildings from one-family houses to multi-storey office buildings, obliterating almost all previous limits to the dimensions of a timber building. Structures with a free span up to 100 metres or a height of more than 20 metres are now easily achievable with this reliable and robust construction material.

The house that grows back

Apart from the architectural and structural-physical tricks timber as a natural construction material is able to pull off, there is also a very important ecological aspect. Wood is a sustainable material that grows virtually on our doorstep. It is not for nothing that Styria is nicknamed the ‘Green Heart of Austria’. Approximately 60 percent of our province is densely covered by forests. Using timber as a construction material is therefore an almost irresistible proposition.

Innovative solutions

Recent innovations in timber construction offer solutions for all structural and architectural challenges. Meanwhile, the high degree of prefabrication reduces construction time. Walls and ceiling elements can be produced in the factory to the exact specifications of the client. Even complete residential units including bathrooms, fixtures, fittings and equipment can now be prebuilt as connectable modules. As a result, the entire room can be assembled and carried to the construction site on a flatbed truck. All that remains to be done on location is to join up the modules with the façade and connect the building services such as HVAC systems.
Because of the high degree of prefabrication, many timber room modules can be manufactured in a day. These plug-in modules are then transported to the construction site on a flatbed truck. 

From regional to international

With many forest-covered surfaces, Austria is predestined to pioneer the use of timber as a construction material. But also neighbouring Germany and even Finland and Norway are increasingly developing a taste for this type of construction. As a leading manufacturer of laminated and crosslaminated timber, Austria is an important global player in this sector.
For a short time only, the 18-story building erected on the university campus of Western Canadian metropolis Vancouver will be the world’s highest timber building. But it is set to lose its title again when the currently planned 24-story and 84m high ‘HoHo’ building in Austria’s capital Vienna is completed.

TU Graz and proHolz Academy

proHolz Styria naturally wants to pass on this comprehensive know-how about timber as a construction material to students. Therefore, the proHolz Academy organizes evening lectures and information events about the latest technical developments in timber construction. Through field trips to innovative and future-oriented timber structures, participants receive inspiring new ideas and acquire in-depth know-how for their own (planned) projects. The buildings retain their high quality even after many years of utilisation and demonstrate the wide variety of applications for timber as construction material. Of course these events are free for students.
Hermann Blumer planned the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France together with internationally renowned architect Shigeru Ban. On 30 November he will speak about this and many other timber construction projects at TU Graz. 

Presentations by international timber construction experts 

proHolz Academy will host the third Timber Construction Convention at TU Graz at the end of November. This year’s subject is modern wood architecture. Hermann Blumer (CH), Samuel Blumer (AUT) and Reinhard Kropf (NOR), three internationally renowned timber construction experts, will travel to Graz and demonstrate the full potential of timber construction, both structurally and architecturally. Based on groundbreaking timber construction projects they will explain the approach from the first design to the final implementation of the building, highlighting the possibilities and challenges of modern wood architecture. After a discussion of the intimate connection between architecture and wood, the final round table will afford a glimpse of the future of timber construction. The evening will be dedicated entirely to the interplay between architecture and technology in the design, planning and execution stages of modern timber structures.  

Architecture meets wood
Date: 30 November 2016, 6pm
Place: TU Graz, Aula, Rechbauerstraße 12, 8010 Graz, 1st floor


In the Field of Expertise Sustainable Systems at TU Graz the so-called cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction technique for solid timber construction is developed and improved. Developed by the Institute of Timber Engineering and Wood Technology of TU Graz, in co-operation with the holz.bau forschungs gmbh Competence Centre, this innovative cross-laminated timber comprises several layers of solid timber glued together crosswise. These solid timber elements are particularly stable and earthquake-resistant. Even the Japanese government wants to use it nationwide. Further information can be found at “Timber in Building Construction – Nature Meets High Tech”.


Gudrun Wölfl
proHolz Steiermark
Verband der steirischen Holz- und Forstwirtschaft
Reininghausstraße 13a
8020 Graz
Phone: +43 316 58 78 60 114
E-Mail: woelfl@proholz-stmk.at