TRADA conference instructs and inspires

16 November 2018

TRADA’s Better Timber Buildings conference attracted around 200 delegates including many architects, structural engineers, academics involved in timber engineering research and development, plus some suppliers.

The November 15 conference – the first major TRADA conference of this nature since In Touch with Timber 10 years ago – was aimed at creating discussion points on what can be improved on within timber-based construction, rather than only looking back on previous, albeit successful, projects.

Architect Anthony Thistleton, co-founder and partner of Waugh Thistleton spoke on his company’s commitment to building with timber, saying that it was crucial in the face of “climate breakdown”. He said his practice believed there was a single tool to tackle climate change – the tree – and that we should be working to sell more timber.

Paul Edwards of Arup highlighted the challenges of the Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience, saying that, in that case, the owners had bought into the idea of a single timber roof to unite the manufacturing and visitor spaces very quickly.

Dr James Norman, programme director for civil engineering at the University of Bristol talked delegates through TRADA’s “Structural timber elements: a pre-scheme design guide” to show how they and their clients could quickly and confidently determine if and how to build any structure in timber.

Greg Cooper, managing director of Hybrid Structures, followed this with an explanation how to use TRADA’s National Structural Timber Specification (NSTS) and his presentation was supported by Kelly Harrison, associate engineer at Heyne Tillett Steel, who described how the NSTS had been used for recent and on-going projects.

Rupert Scott, membership and marketing manager at TRADA spoke on the fire performance requirements for timber cladding/structural walls and what is currently known about changes that lie ahead in relation to the use of combustible materials.

He was followed by Robin Lancashire, senior timber frame consultant at Exova BM TRADA, who advised delegates on how to ensure timber structures are durable, particularly during the construction phase when materials are often left exposed to the elements.

Marc Separovic, senior technical project manager at the NHBC presented the findings of the organisations reports, pulling out some key lessons that will help the structural timber industry deliver a better result.

Concluding the presentations, Oliver Booth, partner at quantity surveyors Gardiner & Theobald explained why costing timber structures was so different to concrete or steel structures and urged more collaboration and earlier engagement with the supply chain.