Timber Structures 2017

1st International Conference On Timber Structures and Engineering


13 - 15 June, 2017
New Forest, UK



Timber Structures 2017

The Timber Structures conference 2017 took place in the New Forest National Park in the UK. It was the first meeting of this kind organised by Prof Carlos A Brebbia of Wessex Institute with the collaboration of the Technical Centre of Wood Industry in Belgium.

This was a very successful meeting largely due to the high quality of the papers presented and the prevailing friendly atmosphere.

During the conference, participants from different regions of the world and a wide variety of expertise discussed the recent developments in timber characterisation and treatment as well as the integrity and aesthetics of timber structures and components. A particular area of interest was the performance of timber structures under dynamic loads in general and seismic excitation in particular; a special session was dedicated to the latter theme.

The meeting also explored issues relating to fire resistance, use of preservatives, role of connections, planting density, craftsmanship, interaction with other materials, analytical techniques and experimentation.

Timber Structures encompass a variety of important and challenging problems in the fields of engineering and architecture; such problems are addressed by a wide range of methods and strategies leading to the optimal use of timber as a structural material.

Opening the Conference

Dr Stavros Syngellakis, Professor at WIT and member of its Board of Directors welcomed the audience to the New Forest, the home of the Wessex Institute, on behalf of Prof Carlos A Brebbia, who was, regrettably, unable to be there due to health reasons. Stavros explained some of the attractions of the region and expressed his hope that the participants would have an occasion to visit some places of interest in the Forest.

Since most of the participants were not fully aware of the Institute’s objectives, Stavros explained that WIT is an NGO with charitable status dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge. This is achieved through research and development, conferences and training, and publications.

The Institute has developed new computational tools which are used to solve, more efficiently, problems that can be difficult to address by conventional tools. WIT also carries out consulting services for industry, government users and others. At present two areas of expertise in demand are in the field of corrosion engineering and fracture mechanics.

Stavros showed some of the successfully completed projects to give the audience an idea of the results that can be achieved with the WIT tools.

He also referred to the publishing activities of WIT which consist of a series of WIT Transactions and Journals. All papers presented at WIT conferences are now in Open Access format and archived on the Institute site (www.witpress.com/elibrary), as well as other important databases.

Stavros mentioned the importance to the community of launching new Journals in order to focus on new research topics instead of relying only on well-established publications which may not be appropriate for many emerging engineering fields.

Finally, Stavros referred to the importance of the well-established WIT Conference programme which brings together people from different backgrounds from all over the world. The meetings foster collaboration and the development of joint projects as well as create international research networks.

Stavros concluded his address by thanking the delegates for their participation and hoping that during the meeting they would have the opportunity of knowing more about the work carried out by the Wessex Institute.

Keynote Speakers

The first keynote address was by Dr Kurt De Proft from the Belgian Institute for Wood Technology on the topic of ‘Effects of protective panels on charring of timber elements in timber frame assemblies’.

As Kurt explained, the main objective of that research is to design small scale fire tests for monitoring the temperature inside timber elements and timber frame assemblies with protective panels. Comparisons of measured results with calculations according to standards indicate the limitations of the latter to provide optimum designs.

According to Eurocode 5 rules, structural design against fire relies on two parameters corresponding to charring and failure times. The rules envisage a limited number of panel configurations, thus the research programme at the Belgian Institute for Wood Technology involves experiments on alternative panel designs. Thermocouples are used to monitor temperature evolution and thus identify initiation of charring and eventual panel collapse. It is concluded that insulation periods are well estimated but post-protection periods are overestimated by current design rules.

Kurt’s keynote address was very well received and followed by a lively discussion.

A second keynote address was delivered on the last day of the conference by Patrick De Wilde on "Effective properties of wood based on micromechanics" co-authored by M. Sejnoha, J. Vorel and J. Sykora, Czech Technical University of Prague.

Other invited addresses were:

• “Experimental and analytical analysis of racking resistance of partially anchored timber frame walls”, by Kurt de Proft, Belgian Institute for Wood Technology, Brussels.
• “Effect of different modelling approaches on the prediction of the seismic response of multi-storey CLT buildings”, by Luca Pozza, University of Bologna, Italy.
• “Cyclic and shaking-table tests of timber-glass buildings”, by Miroslav Premrov, University of Maribor, Slovenia.
• “Using infrared devices for assessing timber structures”, by Jakub Sandak, CNR-IVALSA Trees and Timber Institute, Italy.

Conference Topics

The Conference covered a wide range of topics in the general fields of:

• Fire protection
• Seismic behaviour
• Safe structural design
• Material characterisation
• Composite structures


The conference offered the delegates many opportunities for interaction and discussion, during coffee and lunch breaks, as well as during the formal sessions. A special roast lamb BBQ was organised in the Ashurst Lodge Campus, with excellent local food and blessed by the best summer weather. The occasion, as usual, helped to cement the links among the delegates.

A meeting to express WIT’s appreciation to reviewers and scientific committee members took place over dinner at an excellent restaurant, which offered dishes made with regional produce. It has one of the best wine cellars in the UK. Discussions centred on how to improve the conference and attract high quality papers. An aim of the meeting is to increase the number of industrial participants. Several new initiatives were proposed which WIT’s Conference Committee will investigate further.

Another special event for the delegates was an afternoon technical excursion to Hooke Park, the Architectural Association’s woodland site in Dorset, southwest England. The 150-hectare working forest is owned and operated by the Architectural Association and contains a growing educational facility for design, workshop, construction and landscape-focused activities. Underlying these activities is the opportunity to develop new rural architectures and an ethic of material self-sufficiency. Today the campus presents a 30-year history of experimental timber construction and rural architecture. Under the previous ownership of the Parnham Trust’s School for Woodland Industries, three remarkable demonstrations of round-wood construction were built: the Prototype House (1987), Workshop (1989) and Dormitory (1996), which offer a valuable legacy and point of reference for today’s students. Following the transition of ownership to the Architectural Association in 2002, the masterplan for campus development was redrawn and continues, with new workshop and accommodation facilities – the Caretaker’s House (2012) and the Timber Seasoning Shelter (2014) among them – designed and built by students of the Architectural Association’s Design & Make programme.

Conference Dinner

The Conference dinner took place in Rhinefield House which was a large manor house built on the site of the residence of the Master Keeper, and now is a well-known New Forest Hotel.

The old Master Keeper’s residence was bought at the end of the 19th century by the Walker family from Nottingham and the house built as a wedding gift to their daughter on her marriage to a Navy officer.

The house resembles a neo-gothic castle with a series of large reception rooms. The most unique of them is a great hall with a hammer beam roof resembling the one in Westminster Hall. The hall incorporates a large fireplace, which bears the date 1653 and is the only reminder of the previous Keeper’s Lodge. Of special interest is the Alhambra room, where the conference dinner took place.

This room is inspired by the palace in Granada and is built in Mudejar architectural style. There are beautiful tiles on the wall, together with Arabic inscriptions in the plaster and a series of Onyx columns. The feeling has been described as being shut inside a jewel case.

Delegates enjoyed the food and wines, as well as the possibility of talking to each other in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere.

Rhinefield House is also renowned for its gardens which are now being fully restored after a year of neglect. Of special interest is the now established maze at the open air grass amphitheatre where concerts and other events are frequently held.

Closing the Conference

The conference was closed by Patrick De Wilde who thanked the delegates for having participated, in his name and on behalf of Prof Brebbia. He wished them safe journey back to their countries and expressed the hope that they will continue to support the work of the Wessex Institute.

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