26 April, 2019
Record-breaking 9th annual Wood Conference
|Delegates register at the ninth annual Wood
||Delegates listen attentively to one of the
during the conference.
Cape Town International
Convention Centre (CTICC) was a hive of activity on 26 February 2019, when
delegates from across the world attended the ninth annual Wood Conference.
Every year, the conference hosts
public professionals from different industries such as architecture,
engineering, wood construction, carpentry and interior décor. The event is a
platform to discuss topical issues involving sustainable, green and
energy-efficient construction with wood - both high-end and low-end.
The day was divided into three
sessions where different speakers gave presentations which offered ideas on how
to build with wood. Some of the presentations also provided background
information on wood in relation to architecture, town-planning as well as science
and technology. "Since it is a neutral platform many architects, engineers and
others in the build environment attend the conference, so we try to incorporate
ideas for all," explains Zaida Davids, event organiser.
MC Hannu Garny kicked-off proceedings,
by welcoming guests to the conference.
"Here we are nine years later." He
explained that nine years ago the conference started with just under 100
delegates. Since then the number of delegates has grown significantly to a
record number of more than 700 delegates in 2019.
According to Davids, the conference
brought many newcomers and late registrations after the closing date.
"We then extended the registration
to almost the very last day," she adds.
Opening and welcome
For the event's opening address,
head of corporate development at the Kuratle Group Roger Kuratle, expressed his
excitement for the ninth conference.
"Every year when I get the
opportunity to open the Wood Conference, I realise how fast time goes. Another
year has passed, and we look at what we have achieved, what has been done and
what still need to be done," he said.
One of the achievements of the
family-owned enterprise, was the completion of the Ark Angel kindergarten
project in Cape Town.
"I am very proud and happy that we
can announce the completion of the kindergarten project and it is up and
running. Just going there and seeing the kids play, run, eat and sleep in an
environment that is safe, healthy and sustainable gives me a lot of gratitude,"
he said. He also took the opportunity to express gratitude to all the sponsors,
supporters and friends involved in the project.
Another important achievement was the completion and
opening of a new facility in Switzerland. Kuratle explained how the 10 000m²
complete wood structure building took six months to finish.
The last accomplishment was the newly established
partnership between the Kuratle Group and Universal Plywood. "Universal
Plywood together with Brad Anderson and Boet Lubbe represent a family business
just like ours which lives a good company culture and operates with a high
level of professionalism. I am certain that our companies will stimulate each
other and that we can grow together in a sustainable way to the benefit of the
South African wood market and industry," he said.
on the podium was the consul general of Switzerland for Cape Town, Andreas
Markus Maager. In a brief address, he officially welcomed delegates to the
event. Returning to the conference for a second time in a row, Maager said the
achievements of the wood conference over the past nine years had been
outstanding and everyone was looking forward to the 10th conference.
He had high hopes for the 2020 conference, expecting more than 1 000 delegates
and expressed a wish for Cape Town's mayor to attend the next conference.
Alternative building, timber bungalows and modular
Once all the formalities were done,
speakers in the first session were called to give presentations on their
respective topics. Managing director for Timbercraft Lucas Denvin was the first
speaker to address delegates. He spoke about alternative building methods with
timber, saying that bricks and mortar cannot be the only solution in South
Africa. "Alternative building has been around for many centuries," Denvin said.
He also explained that timber has
been identified as the major role player against the fight against climate
change. "Change is needed especially under the circumstances of climate change
and water scarcity." His presentation touched on key points which included mass
production, timber high rise buildings and challenges facing young architects.
Denvin was optimistic about the industry, adding that it is alive and well.
Christian Hess, owner at Holzbau
Hess was next and during his presentation on the design and construction of
timber bungalows and restaurant in the Namibian desert, he discussed all the
challenges that the harsh environment holds from the foundation work to the
unforgiving winds that shift the sand around.
The last speaker in the first
session was Max Renggli, CEO of Renggli Smart Building in Switzerland. His
presentation focused on the future of building with modular structures that are
all prefabricated in a factory and delivered to site, complete.
Renggli also mentioned the
advantages of modular buildings. "The big advantage of modular systems is the
continuity of innovation. With modular systems it is possible to streamline the
entire process from planning to procuring from manufacturing to assembling." He
highlighted that small simple models or customised client specific design,
would benefit from simplified construction which included pre-assembled rooms,
bathrooms, kitchens and cupboards.
After Renggli's presentation,
delegates went for a 25-minute interval, which also served as a networking
opportunity where delegates interacted with each other and with the session's
speakers about their presentations.
Peripheral timber, log homes and fire safety
After the interval, it was time for
presentations in second session with Andrew Brose up first. The design director
from MASS Design delivered his presentation on applications of underused timber
such as the base, crotches and branches that are usually considered waste. His
experience with projects that have severe materials constraints pave the way to
explore how wood materials and construction waste have the potential to support
the entire construction process.
Brose's presentation discussed ways
to improve and innovate the cost, expected building outcomes and durability of
a projects. Through algorithms applied to samples, various application of use
as well as structural strength are determined converting prior waste onto
useable construction elements. Overall Brose believes that unutilised timber has
positive overarching results.
Neil Hayes was next with an
interesting topic called ‘Stick, poles, timber, elephant dung and dust'. He
took delegates through his safari architectural journey discussing construction
in relation to the San people who used wood and mud to construct their
He also explained the role of
elephant dung in trees, focusing specifically on the baobab tree.
"Baobab trees are mainly regenerated
through the injection of a seed called the cream of tartar," he said. He added
that the seed is propagated in the elephant's gut. "With the extinction of
elephant, we are going to end up with the extinction of baobab trees."
Hayes showed a lot of optimism
during his presentation saying that anything is possible with wood. He believes
timber was part of human development and DNA because it is part of human
Finish architect Lena Weckström gave
delegates a bit of insight into the Finish history of log homes. She made a
distinction about log homes currently explaining how they are on a different
level through exiting design and architecture concepts.
Her presentation illustrated how log
homes are also considered durable as Finland has the oldest log homes in the
world - some as old as 600 years. One of the advantages of log homes that Weckström mentioned, is that they are recyclable
as with modern technology, and can be disassembled and rebuilt at different
Italian engineer from Rothoblaas, Michele Dal Ri gave an
insightful presentation about modular timber solutions. He discussed how new
solutions for modular timber construction, which provide efficiency on site as
well as treatments, airtightness and waterproofing for the cross laminated
timer (CLT) building system. Improved air quality and low waste are among the
many benefits of modular timber constructions.
Lukas Krbec, a structural engineer from the Czech Republic
looked at solutions for architectural vision and structural elements of design,
as well as stress points on load-bearing structures by analysis through
software as well as manufacturing capabilities.
Dr Nick De Koker concluded
presentations in the second session and presented testing and results of the
effect fire on timber in construction. Depending on the function and load needs
the effect of structural integrity can be estimated. Wood begins to char at
300°C, which is some cases can protect structural strength of a beam, for
example. Knowledge of the fire rating of all timber products is important from
Refabricated timber, wood value chain and Ark Angels
After enjoying a delicious lunch,
delegates returned to the hall to listen to speakers in the third and final
session of the day.
Ulrich Grimminger and Thomas Just,
presented together on the advantages of prefabricated timber houses for
developers. After a steady decline in timber construction since the 1800s and with
the introduction of concrete and steel, there has been an increase in demand
since around 2000. In Germany timber construction is expected to hold 30% of
market share. Prefabrication is primarily very efficient on site but also
greatly reduces waste as the production process is very precise.
Next up was Rosie Goldrick, an
engineering director from MASS Design, who talked
about the importance of strengthening the wood value chain in east Africa to
improve ecological, industrial and community life. She also gave an overview of
the work MASS and associates has done in Rwanda as well as the challenges of
sourcing local materials in terms of quality. Rwanda is among one of the most
densely populated countries in Africa.
"With this density comes
deforestation and food insecurity," Goldrick explained.
Although Rwanda is high in natural
resources such as timber, the management of the plantations and forests has
been neglected and therefore affects the timber quality. In addition, a lack of
training, machinery and correct treatment are also substantial challenges.
Timber in Rwanda and other African countries is primarily used in making charcoal.
Stefan Thomas Rubner from Austria,
the penultimate speaker for the day, showcased a new temporary living space
introduced as ‘Wood-Space' - a container-like system that can be adjoined or
stacked to two levels.
Wood-Space combines traditional
timber construction with modern and sustainable production techniques and so
block construction is reinterpreted. Rubner explained that the system can be
configured into a variety of solutions for housing, site offices, lounges or
The last speaker, Warren Papier an
architect from Blueprint Architects, gave feedback on the Ark Angels Educare
Project in the Overcome Heights community located in Cape Town. He said that
Ark Angels integrated a safe teaching environment for the community. The
project was completed towards the end of 2018 and was handed over in January
Papier explained how only 20% of the
resources used in this project were sourced from Europe and the remaining 80%
were skills, labour and material from South Africa. Although there were
challenges during the project, collaboration by private and corporate sponsors
which donated funds, materials and in some instances their services, made the
project a success. Papier expressed gratitude and appreciation to all that were
involved in the project. "On 14 January 2019, after a
three-year process, the new facility was officially opened by the mayor of Cape
Town, the consul general of Switzerland and a very happy community, along with
Ark Angels Educare," he added.
word from delegates
As the conference came to an end, delegates had an
opportunity to participate in an online survey, where results indicated that
modular timber construction had a moderate to high probability of
implementation in South Africa.
"The general feedback from delegates has been great with the
exception of just a few. So, what the one participant might find too technical
in some cases, the other participant enjoyed the knowledge of receiving that
information," explains Davids.
"This was the first time that I attended the conference and
some of the information presented is quite helpful to me. I am an architectural
draughtsperson, living in Bonteheuwel on the Cape Flats and servicing the
community in that regards," says Togieda Ismail. She adds that since the
municipality had revised regulations, what was formerly regarded a ‘Wendy house'
is now called a timber structure.
Togieda found the conference beneficial as it helped her put
a lot of information into context. "I received the SANS 082 document and
details of a plan during 2018 and the specifications didn't register yet.
Seeing how it's done [at the conference] makes more sense. Our communities'
mindset needs to change now."
"I was blown away by the speakers, their presentation's and
most of all the willingness and commitment from them to assist me on my new CLT
journey," says Lucas Denvin who was also a speaker at the conference. He was
excited to meet George and Roger Kuratle and was impressed by their humility.
"Zaida, well done on organising the event, it was great."
Other delegates share Devin's sentiments about the whole
event. Michele Dal Ri says the conference was a fantastic experience'. Leon Russouw adds, "Thank you for
the well organised conference, it was most enjoyable. Speakers were well
prepared and definitely captured the audience's attention - food was, as
Judging by the feedback and
attendence from the Wood Conference, the event was definitley a success. "I
have worked at many Wood Conferences with HWZ but this one was very different
and very successful as we had over 700 attendees," comments Wageba Martin, the
registration desk assistant.
Wood Conference 2020
Alwyn Barnes says the 2019 conference was ‘brilliantly
organised and extremely informative'. The bar was certainly set high at the 2019 conference. "I
am already looking forward to 2020," Barnes adds.
The 10th wood conference to be held on
26 February 2020 is greatly anticipated and should promise further positive
progress for the timber construction industry as well as additional reaching
participation from the sector.
By Dineo Phoshoko
Source: Timber IQ
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