A trip to Europe

Last December, Vistek’s lead Mass Timber engineer Nathan Benbow was invited to present at the 25th International Wood Construction Conference (IHF2019) in Innsbruck, Austria. Nathan also took the opportunity to catch up with some European mass timber experts and suppliers. First up was a visit to Rubner Holzbau in Italy, followed by KLH and Hasslacher Norica Timber in Austria.

The 25th International Wood Construction Conference (IHF2019)

About the conference

The International Wood Construction Conference, run by FORUM HOLZBAU, is perhaps the most significant international timber construction congress. Over three days, more than 2,400 participants came together in Innsbruck to discuss their experiences, processes and goals with regards to wood construction. The conference caters for a broad range of practitioners. A wide variety of architects, builders, and engineers presented. In addition, an exhibition held alongside the conference allows 140 companies to display their products and services.

Vistek’s presentation

Vistek’s presentation was in the Timber Structures category. This category looks at high performance timber structures in the public eye that demonstrate the wide range of its applications. Specifically, our presentation was in the charmingly titled section ‘Office and hotel buildings with charisma’. Nathan reflected on the processes and challenges of the 10 storey mass timber vertical extension at 55 Southbank Boulevard, for which he was the lead engineer. 55 Southbank is a 10-storey extension built using CLT on top of an existing 6 storey building in Melbourne’s CBD. The world’s tallest vertical mass timber extension, the build incorporates 220 serviced apartments.

The design and construction process of mass timber can be particularly suitable for the repetitive structures of offices and hotels. The other talks in the section demonstrated this further. Giovanni Spatti from Wood Beton SpA, Iseo, described a building system for duplicable hotel buildings. Mario Rano from Degree of Freedom Engineers, Oslo, talked about the massive timber structure of the Bjergsted Financial Park in Stavanger. Lastly, Jean-Luc Sandoz from CBS-Lifteam, Paris, presented on Nexity Ywood’s office building in Nice. At 10 storeys it is currently the tallest CLT office building in France, with 9 of those stories constructed from timber.

A 10 storey vertical extension in CLT and Mass Timber on on top of an existing 6 storey building at 55 Southbank Boulevard, Melbourne

The 55 Southbank 10 storey vertical extension, engineered by Vistek

Palazzo Meridia, the Nexity Ywood office building in Nice, France. Presented at the 25th International Wood Construction Conference (IHF2019) in Innsbruck, Austria.

Architectural visualization of Palazzo Meridia, the Nexity Ywood office building in Nice, France

Visiting Rubner Holzbau, KLH and Hasslacher Norica Timber

Europe has the most established mass timber industry in the world. During his visit, Nathan was able to visit a few of the big names in the industry to exchange knowledge and experiences. Rubner Holzbah in Northern Italy are producers, suppliers, project engineers and installers of Glulam and CLT. They work across all stages of large-scale mass timber construction, giving valuable insight into the way these processes tie together. KLH Massivholz GmbH (KLH) in Austria are leading suppliers of large scale CLT elements. They were the suppliers for the project Vistek presented on at IHF2019, 55 Southbank. Hasslacher Norica in Austria are producers of a wide range of timber products. It was great to meet in person some of the people we have been corresponding and collaborating with over the past few years.