It looks like a freight container, it rolls like a freight container – on the back of a giant 14-wheeler low loader. But, as the name suggests, the Woodbox is in fact made of wood, and a compact touring exhibition for Austrian timber construction and wood generally.

The Woodbox is literally a timber roadshow that has already criss-crossed Europe and in 2016 it is hoped it will be trucking to the UK. It’s the brainchild of proHolz Austria, one of Europe’s oldest and, arguably, most successful wood promotion programmes.

It launched in 2014, backed by the Timber Construction Department of Munich Technical University, the European Organisation of Sawmills and European Panel Federation and so far it’s set up in around a dozen cities; including Bratislava Linz, Ljubjana, Milan, Turin, Vienna and Zagreb.

It either features in city centres as a stand-alone, or in conjunction with local timber or construction events. For instance, it was in Vienna this year supporting the city’s Wienwood wood-based building competition. In 2014 it also formed part of European Wood Action Days in Brussels, an international lobbying event organised by the EOS, European Confederation of Woodworking Industries and European Panel Federation, targeting MEPs and business leaders. The message, echoed by Woodbox sitting in front of the EU parliament, was that wood construction and timber generally can play a key role in the EU-wide drive to low carbon economies, sustainable construction and development. The Box features about 50 construction case studies using Austrian products and systems and the main focus is timber building in urban centres, where proHolz says wood is particularly well-suited, thanks to relative lightness, and suitability for prefabrication, resulting in a fast, low noise, low waste build, ideal for dense, busy town centres.

The Woodbox also ties in with proHolz’s wider ‘Wood Building the Future’ communications initiative.

"Where Woodbox visits, associated ‘Wooddays’ are held – networking events for the local construction sector, specifiers and decision makers," said spokesperson Judith Wildling. "They reinforce the advantages of timber in low carbon urban building through presentations and dialogue and facilitate exchange between Austrian and local companies."

ProHolz says it’s too early to judge the impact of Woodbox and Wooddays which are set to run for two years. But it reports strong feedback and, given previous its previous track record, has reason to be upbeat. The proHolz campaign has now been running 25 years, funded by the Association of Austrian Wood Industries to the tune of more than €2m a year. It claims the ‘first major image campaign for forest management’ in ‘Proud of Wood’ from 1994 to 2001, which then switched focus to timber, as ‘Wood is awesome’. Simple, but effective! While not claiming all the credit, proHolz believes it has contributed to a turnaround in perceptions of the Austrian timber sector. "In 1990, 46% of people believed we were losing forest area," said Ms Wildling. "In 2011 this was 24% and 39% believed it was increasing."

The campaign also developed its focus on construction around 2000, especially architects, contractors and planners, with a quarterly magazine, plus an ever-expanding catalogue of timber building technical literature and a multi-lingual technical website,

Again, not claiming sole responsibility, it has also tracked a dramatic development in Austrian timber building since this part of the campaign launched. Wood-based construction’s share of overall building rose between 1998 and 2013 from 25% to 43% and in housing from 15% to 48%."

ProHolz has also taken the Austrian wood and timber building message abroad. It’s linked with foreign research and academic centres and presented at international events. Its biggest foreign push has been into key Austrian softwood market Italy, where it co-launched the promoLegno campaign with the Italian industry. During promoLegno’s time, Italy’s per capita wood consumption has nearly doubled to 0.15m3, while use of engineered wood jumped from 200,000m3 to 1 million m3. The latter figure halved during the recession, but is now recovering, with Austria accounting for 80% market share.

Austrian timber and engineered wood, notably glulam and cross laminated timber (CLT), have also been at the forefront in UK timber building’s most dramatic recent developments, notably high rise. These include Murray Grove Tower, Bridport House, and most recently Banyan Wharf and the massive Crossrail Canary Wharf station.

And proHolz is hoping for even bigger things as result of the 2016 Woodbox UK tour. Nothing is confirmed yet, but on the current proHolz itinerary – a map of Europe with Woodboxes dotted strategically – it is tentatively scheduled to be rolling into Edinburgh in August and London in September.