In another sign of the UK’s growing interest in building with wood, the UK Timber Frame Association announced plans at Ecobuild to extend membership to contractors, engineers, architects and other specifiers.

“A few years back we were a smallish club,” said recently elected chairman and managing director of FrameWise Simon Orrells. “Now we’re a grown up organisation representing a mature and growing industry with a growing constituency across the construction sector.”

UKTFA also organised ‘fringe’ presentations at the show by well-known timber frame advocates; Tesco chief architect Martin Young and Constructing Excellence past chairman Vaughan Burnand, who both tackled the cost of sustainable construction, and designer Wayne Hemingway who looked at the “use of timber frame to achieve sustainable communities”.

“We have a simple aim; to project the advantages of timber frame and help people unlearn past preconceptions about it, particularly the younger generation of building professionals” said Mr Orrells.

Taking this a step further, he added, the UKTFA has commissoned market research on attitudes to sustainability and the built environment, with the results due out in the spring.

It is also developing the UKTFA Knowledge Centre, an online learning site which will include modules aimed at various building professionals.

“The architects’ module is due out in the middle of the year,” said Mr Orrells.

Underlining the UKTFA’s development plans, it also used Ecobuild to publicise the appointment of its first chief executive in four years, Andrew Carpenter (in the interim, the board has fulfilled the role).

“His task is to improve communication for the membership and help us develop a more strategic approach,” said Mr Orrells. “The focus will be on establishing even stronger differentiators for members.”

The latter, he added, include the UKTFA’s Site Safe code of conduct, designed to reduce the risk of fire on timber frame construction sites.

“This is already proving a robust solution,” said Mr Orrells. “So far it has been implemented on 300 sites and there has only been a fire on one.”