Report: World Timber Engineering Conference Underway in Oslo

Day 1 Highlight: Address from Mayor of Oslo who urged the global community to "act now"

Tue 20 Jun 23


More than 1000 researchers, engineers and architects are gathering in Oslo, Norway, for the World Conference on Timber Engineering from June 19 to 23.

The busy conference has 91 sessions and is presenting 600 scientific papers, including the use of robotics in constructing the award-winning Boola Katatjin mass timber building in Western Australia.

Forest and Wood Products Australia National Codes and Standards Manager Boris Iskra is presenting on ‘Fire-Protected Timber Elements of Construction – Response During Fire Decay and Cooling Phase’ and will provide Wood Central with exclusive updates live from the conference.

Mr Iskra, along with Andrew Dunn, CEO of the Timber Development Association, and Clarissa Brandt, Timber Queensland’s Strategic Relations Manager, will provide exclusive coverage of the conference for Wood Central.

Day 1: The Mayor of Oslow welcomes the global community to the conference

Mayor Borgen has welcomed all attendees to World Conference on Timber Engineering conference and has urged “we, the cities, to act here and now.”

According to Clarrisa Brandt, Strategic Relations Manager for Timber Queensland, the regeneration of Oslo’s previously contaminated fjord and surrounding developments contributed to gaining the title of being Europe’s green capital in 2019.

“Having sampled the local sauna and freezing but clean water, I can personally say Oslo’s actions have delivered great rewards,” Brandt said, who is providing Wood Central with updates from Oslow in Norway.

However, Mayor Borgen said you don’t make such achievements by one party, one politician. You have to dare to reach across the other side of the table. Oslo’s big success has been the ability to create dialogue and partnerships.

In 2019, Oslo was awarded the mantle of the EU’s Greenest Captial. Footage courtesy of @EGCwebteam

According to Brandt, the key is “actioning bipartisan wood encouragement policies.”

In 1994 Norway was the first country to deliver a ‘Green Olympic Games’ largely due to its wood-encouragement policies.

The model for timber-based infrastructure has been replicated with several host cities using the Norwegian model for many games since.

According to Rune Abrahamsen, CEO of Moelven, the Norwegian government’s preference for timber has had a strong and enduring legacy.

“The use of timber materials in 1994 has carried great importance for Norway’s construction industry, and it has been a tremendous journey since then, full of innovation,” he said.

Moelven is the largest glulam manufacturer in Europe and used mass timber in many of the games venues, including the Hamar Olympiahall, the Håkons Hall at Lillehammer Olympic Park and the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre – host of the ice hockey, figure skating, and short course speed skating.

Keynote Address by Age Holmestad

Age Holmestad, the project manager responsible for these projects, was is one of the six keynote speakers involved in the conference.

From the time that Lillehammer was awarded the games in 1988, Moelven had to accelerate development to meet the demand for infrastructure.

Up to 1985, Moelven Limtre supplied glulam structures that could span 60m by placing two glulam arches against each other.

The span had to be doubled to provide the load-bearing structures for the various Games venues.

The solution was to join beams to make the glulam arches longer, resulting in the Moelven patented node technology as seen in the Olympic venues.

According to Holmestad, the Olympics opened architects’ and engineers’ eyes to timber being more than just a material for residential homes.

Today, timber is used throughout Norway, including in the replacement of bridges like the Norsenga Bridge in Kongsvinger, Norway.

The two-lane bridge, nearly 95m long, was opened in 2017 and has walking and cycling paths.

It is divided into three spans and sits on pointed concrete piles, according to Nordic Steel Group, which supplied truss material.

Around 710 cubic metres of glulam were supplied by Moelven for the construction and truss.

In total, the Norsenga bridge weighs over 400 tonnes, divided into both wood and steel. 

What is the World Conference?

The WCTE is the world’s premier forum for presenting and discussing the latest technical and architectural developments and innovations in wood or timber-based construction.

The conference is an initiative of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design and the City of Oslo.

Footage courtesy of @WCTE-WorldConferenceonTimberEn

Ninety-five international committee members have put the conference together, including Australia’s Professor Keith Crews, School of Engineering, University of Queensland, Professor Jeff Morell, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Professor Gregory Nolan, director, School of Architecture and Design at the University of Tasmania.

New Zealand is represented by Pierre Quennebille, Gary Raftery, Mingaho Li and Poyan Zarnani.

A full list of the international committee members is available on the WCTE website.

Keynote Speakers

The conference has six keynote speakers anchoring the opening and closing ceremonies. They include:

  • Uwe Kies, Secretary General of InnovaWood, the European network for wood science, research, innovation, and education. He is also the chair of the Wood4Bauhaus Alliance, a policy platform to promote more wood use in the building sector.
  • Kjetil Trædal, the co-founder of Norwegian architecture practice Snøhetta. Earlier this year, Wood Central covered the practices headline-grabbing Bolder Start Lodges.
  • Jennifer Cover, president and CEO of WoodWorks, Wood Products Council, a US-based program that has converted more than 3000 projects to timber construction.
  • Professor Keith Crews, director, Australian Research Council, Research Hub to Advance Timber in the Built Environment. Professor Crews, who specialises in large-scale timber structures, has authored more than 350 papers and co-authored the Australian Timber Design Handbook.
  • Andrea Frangi, Professor of Timber Structures at the Institute of Structural Engineering at ETH Zürich.
  • Åge Holmestad director of Moelven Limtre, one of the most experienced and award-winning experts in glulam industry. He has been vital in four world record-breaking projects during his tenure at Moelven Limtre. Last week, the group hosted a tour for Australian delegates on the WoodSolutions tour of Sweden and Norway.
The next edition of the WCTE will be staged in Australia

In October 2021, it was reported that Brisbane would host the next conference edition in 2025 – marking the first time it has been hosted in Australia.

It comes as the Queensland government earlier this month confirmed that timber will be the preferred building material for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Athletes Village.

“We can see timber as a building material has great potential in achieving the government’s commitment to a climate-positive Games,” says Bart Mellish, the Assistant Minister to the Premier for Veterans Affairs and the Public Sector.

“We are seeing more public awareness that timber can substitute for steel, concrete, and aluminium … and that timber can perform better than its alternatives.”

“Using timber for the athletes’ village could achieve a dual legacy as a sustainable venue and as lasting affordable accommodation,” he said.

The story, broken exclusively by Wood Central, confirms that the Brisbane Olympic organising committee wants to construct a massive timber facility at Hamilton on Brisbane’s northshore.

• Wood Central will provide live updates throughout the week as the World Conference on Timber Engineering progresses.


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