Innovation requires knowledge

Editorials by Mikael Eliasson

Happy, I climbed down off the ladder and pondered the little building that was now ready for its finishing layers, wood cladding and roof tiles. Autumn was biting and above the forested slope with its patches of golden leaves, the sky was a steely grey. A huge flock of geese flew overhead on their way to spend the winter in a better place. My thoughts drifted to times when people worried about the onset of winter. Would the food and feed last, was there enough firewood and were the buildings in a fit state to see out the winter?

We have a long history of building in wood, a material that was readily available, easy to work with and naturally meets two requirements of construction materials: strength and insulation. Without the help of computerised tools or an engineering degree, people erected everything from simple buildings that provided useful shelter to relatively imposing and advanced structures for living, working and communing in. Over time, a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience was accrued about the possibilities and limitations of the material, and about where such buildings should be located.

Much of that genuine knowledge has, if not disappeared, then at least diminished. Over the past 20 years since building in wood once again took its rightful place in urban planning, there has been an intensive drive to recapture what has been lost and generate new know-how through strong ties with science and research. All this work that has been carried out around the world now lays the foundation for the second phase of wood construction’s renaissance. Like the medieval church builders, we are pushing the boundaries of knowledge and experience in order to advance the cause of sustainable building. Although wood is the core focus, there is an openness to combining different materials to meet future design challenges.

The keywords for developing wood construction are knowledge sharing and knowledge building. One example of knowledge sharing was Swedish Wood’s information day in Gothenburg on 18 October, an event that attracted a record number of participants. There is an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about building in wood.

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