Future Timber Hub leading response to industry research needs in the (mass) timber industry

News Item

The Centre for Future Timber Structures (CFTS) / Future Timber Hub (FTH) held a Strategic Collaborative Workshop on the 15 April 2021 which was attended by the ARC Future Timber Hub's current Project Leaders, Industry Partners and Institutional Partners, along with representatives from other major national universities and industry.  

The purpose of the Workshop was to bring Academics and Industry together to define the research needs in Australia and the Pacific Region.  50% of the 90 plus attendees were from Industry which highlights the want (and need) for further research in the use of Timber in the Construction Sector. 

The workshop was held at The The University of Queensland but also enabled participants to join across Australia and the world, virtually, via Zoom technology. Around 45 participants were able to attend in person, which was timely, as Queensland had eased its Covid-19 restrictions at 6am on the day of the workshop. There was good interaction and engagement throughout the day, both within the rooms and over Zoom.

The attendees were welcomed by the University of Queensland’s School of Civil Engineering Head of School Professor Carlo Prato and CFTS board member Professor Keith Crews.

The beginning of the workshop included the Timber Associations presenting their vision for the use of Timber in the Australian Construction Sector, which included Gavin Matthew from EWPAA, Damien Crough from prefabAUS, Simon Dorries from Responsible Wood, Mick Stephens from Timber Queensland and Chris Lafferty from FWPA followed by thoughts from the CFTS Board (DAF, Lendlease, Hyne Timber / XLam, Arup).  This set the scene for what followed, which was an in-depth overview of the current ARC Future Timber Hub Research Projects, where each Project Leader presented on what has worked, what should be continued / expanded and what are considered to be the ongoing research priorities.  This was followed by focused sessions on the future landscape.

For many, the future landscape session was the highlight of the day where participants broke into Research Groups to have a more in-depth discussion of research needs in the following areas:

  • Timber Circular Economy
  • Technical Compliance and Performance - Fire
  • Technical Compliance and Performance - Structure, Acoustics
  • Durability, Weather Protection and Hygrothermal Protection
  • Pre-Fabrication and Design for Manufacture & Assembly + Advanced Technologies (Automation in Construction & Digital Tools for Construction)
  • Alternate Applications for Timber Products

The outcomes of the workshop are now being developed into a Workshop Summary which will include key research priorities and how these can align with and contribute to, the R&D strategies of FWPA and other industry associations. This will assist in funding further research proposals for the CFTS/FTH in 2021, including an application for an ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub.  The CFTS/FTH aims to serve as an enabler for timber to become a primary construction material for complex infrastructure in Australia by maximizing its performance and environmental credentials.

One thing is for certain, the CFTS/FTH has formed an excellent collaboration to further the advocacy of timber and removal of barriers to its use. Participant, Danielle Pacella, from Jackson Clements  Burrows Architects summed it up perfectly, "It was thoroughly interesting, informative and a fantastic gateway to directing change and research in the (mass) timber industry." 

Also featured in Timber & Forestry Enews, Issue 654, April 22, 2021

Photo: UQ, Head of School of Civil Engineering, Professor Carlo Prato welcoming participants