HiTimber project helps to increase competence in timber construction
15. May 2018

Estonian Woodhouse Association (EWA) in co-operation with Tallinn University of Applied Sciences participate in an international program „Sustainable High-Rise Buildings Designed and Constructed in Timber (HiTimber)“  that promotes timber construction education. The goal of the three-year co-operation project is to work out a new study module to help teach timber construction in universities.

14-storey apartment building in Norway by Kodumaja. Photo: Maris Tomba

Many specialists in construction sector assure that the trend of timber high-rise buildings is increasing and more thought is put into how to replace construction materials that are contaminating nature (e.g steel, concrete) with those more environmentally friendly. Wood is hereby the perfect alternative: it is possible to grow it and it is renewable as a resource in responsibly managed forests. Wood absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) and does not remarkably contaminate environment during the production process. Wood is more widely used in construction industry yet education regarding building high-rise buildings of wood is still moderate. The goal of the HiTimber project is to share best practices of different countries and start processes in universities of wider knowledge in designing, managing construction works and maintaining real-estate.

HiTimber project was written in co-operation with several partners in order to fulfil future needs for higher education considering innovation, sustainability, international and cross-university approaches.  The main outcome of the project will be a new study module/group of selective subjects and a thorough study book of how to design timber high-rise buildings. The book can be used by universities to add extra value to construction curriculums and teach how to build sustainable timber high-rise buildings.

Promoting timber construction

Member of the Board of Estonian Woodhouse Association, architect Mihkel Urmet sees participation in HiTimber project as an important and driving force in promoting timber construction. „The project enables partners from different countries and organizations in the sector to share information and what´s especially important about this, the shared material will be compiled into teaching material of timber constructions. That makes it possible in the future to introduce students better to timber construction and design.“ Woodhouse Association as one of the Estonian partners is happy that the project has launched successfully. „Our experience and know-how of timber house design and construction are definitely an appreciated input by other partners. Therefore we can be proud and say that we are moving in the right direction,“ says Urmet.  

Workshop for students

The project was opened by the partners´ meeting in Tallinn at the end of 2017 where next steps and goals were mapped. Next meeting of the project team took place in Denmark at the beginning of 2018 where an intensive project for students was discussed. Workshop for students of universities that participate in the program was held in Great Britain in April. First two-week study period gathered 30 students from Portugal, Lithuania, Denmark, Great Britain and Estonia to Southampton. The students were introduced to specifics of designing timber structures and were given a teamwork to design an existing concrete building into a timber-structure building in a manner that would follow all existing construction requirements. In addition to the task, the students participated in lectures about timber structures and were guided in specific questions.

Five students from Tallinn University of Applied Sciences construction institute participated at the study week.

Students workshop in Southampton. Photo by Tallinn University of Applied Sciences.

Each region has its' own specifics in construction

Director of the Construction Institute of Tallinn University of Applied Sciences, Martti Kiisa, said that one of the biggest values of the project is an enormous widening of horizons. „Each region in Europe has their own specifics in construction. You will take a completely different look at a building when there are people from different countries on the team – Nordic countries, Southern Europe and countries in-between. Some stress seismic threats, another construction physics or extreme wind load and this information flood the group. Such variety is pleasantly contagious and makes one look outside your own small region´s box.“

Estonian Woodhouse Association contributed as a project partner to the program of the study week by including lecturers and holding lectures on timber structures and timber architecture. The students listened to lectures by Jüri Kliimask from engineering bureau Pluss OÜ and architect Mihkel Urmet from architecture bureau TEMPT OÜ.

Other partners of the project include: VIA UC, Southampton Solent University, Tallinn University of Applied Sciences, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Universidade de Lisboa, Charted Institute of Architectural Technologies (CIAT), Charted Institute of Builders (CAOB), Denmark Constructor Union (KF union), TISEM, LDA (TISEM), serQ - Centro de Inovação e Competências da Floresta - Associação, Sonae Group and Amorim Group, Lithuanian Association of Timber Houses Producers, Lithuanian Builders Association and Lithuanian Real Estate Development Association, Study and Consulting Center (SCC).

The project lasts for 3 years (2017-2020) and is funded by Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union