The focus of Woodrise 2019 on Wednesday was on sharing knowledge and best practices on building tall with wood and connecting with like-minded professionals to further the building-with-wood movement.

The last plenary session of the conference, “Science and Technology for Urban Densification: Wood as a Tool,” was moderated by Beth MacNeil, Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources Canada, who mentioned that Canada is “seeing rapid growth of mass-timber construction.”

A full room listened as Canadian architects Catherine St-Marseille and Nicolas Demers told delegates about their “think big, start small and build fast” approach to building with wood. They also discussed the benefits and challenges of cross-laminated timber (CLT) residential construction projects in Quebec, including the Arbora condo project in Montreal, for which FPInnovations conducted on-site tests for vibration and acoustic performance.

Toni Kekki, a Finnish engineer, stated that using wood to build “10-plus stories is nothing extraordinary anymore” and went on to say that knowledge-sharing is the way to grow the building-with-wood industry, noting that “the laws of physics are the same everywhere.” American engineer Lisa Podesto, who has worked on five wood buildings and nine wood structures in five years, talked about scaling up projects.

During a break in the session, the exhibition hall’s photo booth proved to be a draw for delegates who posed for photos captured with a digital frame of the Woodrise 2019 logo. Earlier, conference-goers had an opportunity to take part in a structured networking forum through the B2B meeting platform.

The three plenary sessions attracted such engaged audiences, it prompted one of yesterday’s moderators, Robert Beauregard of Université Laval, to describe their focus as “impressive.” The app used to vote on questions to ask presenters proved to be popular with delegates.

The second half of today’s plenary session saw Daniel Wilded from Swedish wood construction products manufacturer, Martisons, explain the uses of CLT for sustainable buildings. Jan-Willen van de Kuilen from the Technical University of Munich described how the Hotel Jakarta in Amsterdam was built to withstand high winds from the North Sea using 3D modules. The co-founder of Mount Fuji Architects Studio in Japan, Masahiro Harada, shed insight regarding the abundance of wood present in traditional Japanese culture, prompting many Japanese architects and engineers to build with wood.

The plenary session was followed by the conference, “The Impact of Wooden Cities on Quality of Life and Comfort,” with keynote speaker Marie-France Stendahl, principal architect with the Swedish firm White arkitekter AB. She urged delegates to “let nature lead” and presented evidence-based research on “architecture as medicine.”  Stendahl ended her presentation with a video of teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who spoke of the importance of trees as part of the solution to climate change.

The plenary sessions concluded Wednesday with closing remarks by the President and CEO of FPInnovations, Stéphane Renou, who told the audience now is “the time for exchange, the time for sharing knowledge and the time for collaboration.”

Béatrice Gendreau, Regional Councillor of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of France, noted the city of Bordeaux hosted the first Woodrise conference in 2017 and the region remains a centre for the development of the use of wood materials in building construction. Christophe Mathieu, Executive Director of the FCBA Technology Institute, announced that the next edition of the conference will be in Kyoto, Japan in the fall of 2021.

Technical workshops on mid-rise and high-rise wood buildings took place all afternoon and evening.  Participants also had a last chance to visit the exhibition hall. Tours of wood buildings and wood manufactures take place on Thursday and Friday in and around Québec City and in Montreal.

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