Ecobuild is at ExCel in London from March 20-22.
• The floor area is 25% bigger than last year.
• The show will feature 1,500 exhibitors; and 60,000 visitors are expected.
• Timber suppliers make up 10% of exhibitors.
• Timber exhibits include a pallet pavilion and reconstruction of a 17th century Japanese bridge.

Ecobuild’s new owner, UBM plc, is well on its way to achieving its goal of doubling the show’s size over the next four years.

Last year the event moved from Earls Court to the much larger ExCel and its footprint increased 50% to 62,500m². This year it’s back at ExCel and it’s grown again, by just over 25% to occupy 80,000m².

The exhibitor and visitor numbers just keep on growing too. This year’s event, which runs from March 20-22, will feature more than 1,500 exhibitors, up from 1,300 last year, and is expected to attract 60,000 visitors.

And as Ecobuild’s size increases, timber’s presence keeps pace. For the past two years at least, timber suppliers have accounted for 10% of exhibitors, and this year it’s maintained that hold.

“Timber suppliers make up approximately 10% of exhibitors which, given the size of the event, is a very significant presence,” said event director Moira Edwards. “It makes a huge impression too, with an array of impressive and innovative products.”

Although the organisers don’t seek feedback on specific product areas, Ms Edwards said timber’s appeal is obvious.

“You only have to look around Ecobuild to see how much interest there is in timber, whether it’s visitors at exhibitors’ stands or visiting the attractions,” she said.

This year Timber Works, the area of small stands dedicated to timber, has been dropped as Ms Edwards said timber exhibitors preferred to have the space to show a wider range of products. And some of those stands will demonstrate timber’s structural capabilities and design versatility.

Timber bridge

One structure that is likely to draw visitor crowds is Kingston University’s reconstruction of Japan’s 17th century Kintaikyo Bridge.

The 12m arch, being built in UK-grown spruce by third-year architecture students, is a modern interpretation of the five-arched original.

“In order to build this reduced-scale bridge in the limited time, we adapted the original design to suit the available materials and skills,” said the university’s Peter Christian. “We’ve employed a sort of DIY approach; basic connections and simplified timber profiles rather than the highly sophisticated and complex Japanese joints.”

The planed whitewood was supplied by James Jones & Sons which recognised it as an opportunity for architecture students to “expand their knowledge about the structural qualities of timber”.

James Jones will also showcase its solid and engineered timber products on its own stand.

“Ecobuild is a major industry event which attracts a wide range of market and product sectors,” said joint managing director Iain Pirie. “As key players in timber and construction, it is important that we are represented.”

A quarter of TRADA’s 80m² stand will again be dedicated to the winning design in the organisation’s competition for architecture students at Oxford Brookes University to design a demountable timber pavilion.

The brief for this year’s competition was a structure that could be deconstructed and transported to be used as a temporary shelter for an injured marine stranded in bad weather on an island.

Stephanie Lewis’s winning design – a round, birch plywood structure of upright crescents of timber – has a 4x5m footprint and at Ecobuild it will house models of the competition’s other 15 entries.

The competition, launched last year, is sponsored by Timbmet in memory of the company’s founder, the late Dan Kemp.

Timbmet chief executive Simon Fineman, who was on the panel of seven judges, said the entries “emphasised the beauty and diversity of wood in a very demanding application”.

TRADA tours

After the success of last year’s Timber Tours, which attracted 160 people, TRADA will again be offering Ecobuild visitors free guided walks around 12 TRADA and Q-Mark members’ stands, with expert commentary on the technical and regulatory drivers behind them.

“We will be able to help visitors focus on a range of new products, processes and innovations and, if last year is anything to go by, timber will provide some of the most exciting structures at the show,” said membership &?marketing manager Rupert Scott.

The tours, which run at 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm, can be booked by contacting Louise Govier at

Opposite TRADA, London importer and merchant T Brewer & Co is making its first show appearance, not just at Ecobuild, but at any exhibition.

Co-director Keith Fryer said the company had visited the show for many years and was very impressed, particularly with last year’s event, and, given T Brewer’s London location, it was a good fit.

“We are very impressed with Ecobuild because, as timber people, it plays to our strengths. We think that a lot of the people who visit Ecobuild will be doing work in our delivery area,” said Mr Fryer.

The company would be promoting its “total timber package”, from high service levels and the ability to deliver quickly and to “complicated bits of London”, to chain of custody certification.

“The [show’s] message is perfect for us because we can really push chain of custody,” said Mr Fryer.

Pallet retreat

When visitors want a rest from walking the length, width and four corners of ExCel, they can take a break in Nottingham University’s Fleeting Retreat “shipping shelter” made from timber pallets.

The pavilion, one of 22 designed by second-year architecture students, was chosen by a jury, which included Ecobuild representatives. The winning design makes creative use of construction industry-related products which often have a short life before being consigned to landfill.

Lecturer Guillermo Guzman said pallets also had a “level of sophistication” which appealed to the students. “Pallets use very few materials but they’re strong so they can transport materials safely. It was fascinating to the students,” said Mr Guzman.

Plastic strapping will be the main connector for the 8x9m structure, but metal rods and plates will be used in the “most demanding areas”. Most of the components will be preassembled for delivery to Ecobuild.

After the show the pavilion will be taken back to Nottingham University where it will form a shelter between the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Architecture.

The pallets are being supplied by pallet and industries supplies company Scott Group, which will have its own stand at Ecobuild.

“Ecobuild is not only a prime opportunity to share our knowledge of the construction products supply chain, but also to raise awareness of our full range of products and services,” said Scott Pallets sales and marketing director Karen Hunter.

Ecobuild stalwart Metsä Wood (formerly Finnforest) will demonstrate timber’s versatility as a structural building fabric with a stand constructed from its range of solutions.

A stairway on the stand will enable visitors to view the FinnRoof system which the company is launching at the show. Metsä Wood says the overriding benefits of the prefabricated timber cassette are speed of installation and cost efficiency.

Modified timber tests

On Accoya manufacturer Accsys Technologies’ stand UK distributors will showcase windows, cladding and decking made from the acetylated modified wood. Accsys will emphasise Accoya’s durability, stability and sustainability and will reveal two new tests – one demonstrating how Accoya exceeds typical wood coating performance and the other highlighting its thermal conductivity.

The technology will also feature on Coillte Panel Products’ stand, in the form of Medite Tricoya MDF, which is made from acetylated wood fibre.

“With a potential service life of 60 years, according to BRE, Medite Tricoya is set to inspire composite product manufacturers, designers, architects and the construction industry alike, opening up new possibilities and solutions which could not previously have been delivered by a wood product,” said Tricoya product manager Peter Clifton.

B&K Structures, which designs, supplies and installs engineered timber structures, is demonstrating sustainability by recycling, with a few tweeks, the stand it used at Ecobuild 2010 and again at the inaugural Timber Expo last September. This time it will feature products from its supply partner Binderholz, with which it has formed the X-LAM alliance, Glöckel, and B&K subsidiary Key Joinery.

Product launches

Ecobuild is a popular launch platform and this year show regular Steico will launch two products – STEICOtop and STEICOzell – and the STEICO Ecological Roof concept.

STEICOtop is a new generation woodfibre insulation board for loft floors, while STEICOzell is an air-injected insulation made from pine woodfibre.

The company’s Ecological Roof concept is a hinged roof system which uses STEICOjoists. Designed for room-in-the-roof construction, it also uses Steico flexible and rigid insulation.

Jeld-Wen will launch two windows – a conservation window and a box sash which are said to combine modern levels of thermal performance with traditional style.

Ecobuild will also mark the launch of the Wood Awards’ call for entries. The Awards, which this year celebrate the 10-year anniversary since their relaunch, will have an 80m² stand supported by sponsors The American Hardwood Export Council and American Softwoods, as well as Wood for Good, which is a new lead sponsor for 2012.