Innovation on show

26 September 2018

Next month’s Timber Expo focuses firmly on innovation and on the future for timber in construction

Timber engineering continues to defy the construction industry’s perceptions of what can be done with wood. And as any regular TTJ reader will know, the marriage between timber and the world’s most innovative architecture just gets stronger year on year.

So TTJ, Timber Expo and TRADA are collaborating once again to ensure no one can miss that message. Timber Expo (which runs from October 9-11 as part of UK Construction Week at the NEC) is sponsoring TTJ’s Innovation Award and all shortlisted entrants will get added exposure at the show.

Indeed, innovation will feature heavily throughout Timber Expo and all parts of UK Construction Week (UKCW), with its overarching theme on the ‘Future of Construction’.

So what should you prioritise if planning a day at this huge event?

For cutting-edge inspiration, head to the Future of Construction Hub, providing an immersive experience of digital construction, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and experimental methods of construction.

A new Innovation Trail has also been introduced – a self-guided tour around the halls, uncovering pioneering ideas, projects and products from exhibitors. Look out for Gripsure, launching two new products at Timber Expo, Timber Structures, which will showcase its TS3 timber bonding technology range, and Trade Fabrication Systems, which is promoting new coated and laminated wood-based panel products.

Elsewhere within Timber Expo, Italian timber manufacturer Rothoblaas will be showcasing its Holz Technic range, which includes quality products for small and medium-sized structures.

Siga will showcase its toxin-free airtight and wind tight solutions for a building’s envelope, including Majrex, an air and vapour control membrane using Siga’s Hygobrid technology.

Other major exhibitors include Ambrovit SPA, American Softwoods, Capital Holz100, Glennon Brothers Timber and Steico.

But to save hanging around on stands or chasing people around the show, the big tip is to book online in advance to arrange meetings with exhibitors. This will save loads of time.

Tiny Houses In Timber

For many visitors to Timber Expo, the highlight is always the incredible timber structures and sculptures that draw in the architects, engineers and builders.

This year is no different. Plywood donated by Hanson Plywood is again being used to create an eye-catching timber structure which will be on display next to the Timber Focus Theatre.

Designed and constructed by Manja van de Worp of AJG Architects and students from the school of architecture at the Royal School of Art, this year’s structure is setting out to explore the benefits of building the connection method into the element for both erection and disassembly.

The Tiny House is a concept that has also been making a lot of waves this year. Pressure on space for building and consideration for our environment means that, in the future, houses will almost certainly have to have a smaller footprint, with populations living in smaller homes and sharing more communal buildings.

Timber Expo has challenged master carpenter Carwyn Lloyd Jones to build a Tiny House with a timber frame for this year’s event following on from the success of his beautifully crafted ‘Dagon’s Eye’ cabin, which won a Channel 4 competition last year. Carwyn will also be running workshops from the tiny house on building with natural materials.

Seminar Programme

Completing technical CPD is a professional requirement for every architect, so TRADA has again pulled together an essential seminar programme in the Timber Focus Theatre to cover all the bases.

Among the seminars are sessions on the correct design for fire safety performance; how tall we can build in wood; how specifiers research and source timber products; and private residences made beautiful by using wood.

Other timber-related learning opportunities are being pitched at the many contractors, housebuilders and tradespeople who also attend Timber Expo. Free, fully-accredited CPD sessions are being held on issues as diverse as fire door safety, sound insulation, wellbeing, and, of course, on all aspects of Building Regulations and how these are likely to change following the Grenfell Tower fire. New to Timber Expo are the Confederation of Timber Industries’ ‘Time for Timber’ seminars and networking events led by the Structural Timber Association, Timber Trade Federation, Trussed Rafter Association and British Woodworking Federation and supported by the timber industry’s marketing campaign, Wood for Good.

On the main UKCW Stage, the hard-hitting keynote speakers will include Barbara Res, the project manager behind Trump Tower, who will discuss her experiences as a woman in construction and working with Donald Trump. Advanced booking is essential for this session.

Lord David Blunkett will discuss what can be done to tackle the skills gap; Kunle Barker, property expert and TV presenter, will lead the panel discussion on diversity and political correctness; and Ben Derbyshire, HTA Design director and RIBA president, will discuss building in quality.

Look out too for the Role Models debate and awards presentation on Wednesday October 10, many other student activities and competitions, and the first BMF Young Merchants Conference held at the show.

If you’re more interested in the networking opportunities at an event like Timber Expo, the organisers’ advice is to prepare for an exhausting time. More than 35,000 industry contacts are expected.

And the natural meeting points are actually spread throughout the whole of the show – within the Timber Expo area itself, of course, but also within the neighbouring Build Show with its strongly timberinfluenced Offsite area, and in a very popular new Doors, Windows and Glass area.

Celebrations will be in order on the evening of October 10 at the STA Structural Timber Awards. And for the rest of the show, the Beer Festival, sponsored by Velux, features street food, rockaoke and a gin and fizz bar, plus FIX Radio is broadcasting from the festival for all three days.

But ultimately, take pride that the sweetest sounds of UK Construction Week will all come from timber. TRADA is bringing BBC Percussionist of the Year 2016, Andrew Woolcock, to the show to play his rosewood marimba between each of the timber seminars. It’s music to our ears.

Gripsure will launch two new products at this year’s event ALL PHOTOS: UKCW
Timber Expo is free to attend