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October 14, 2019

Woodrise International Congress closes on a positive note

Woodrise International Congress closes on a positive note

The second edition of the Woodrise International Congress came to a close on 4 October on a very positive note.

This event, co-organised by FPInnovations (Canada) and the FCBA Technological Institute (France), brought together over 800 participants in Québec City at the Centre des congrès de Québec, Sept. 30 – Oct. 4. In total, delegates from 29 countries, representing all continents, took part in this international forum to share the latest advances in mid- and high-rise wood construction, and to promote the use of wood in tomorrow’s sustainable cities.

This unique international event concluded with the announcement of the next Woodrise Congress, to be held in Kyoto, Japan, in the fall of 2021, under the auspices of the Japan International Association for the Industry of Building and Housing (JIBH). Japan, with a long history of wood construction, has succeeded in taking advantage of the seismic properties of wood, while at the same time taking a particular interest in the well-being provided by wood buildings. “We are honoured to host Woodrise 2021 and to bring this important international forum into the Asian market,” declared Hideki Nose, Chairman of the JIBH Steering Committee.

Stéphane Renou, President and CEO of FPInnovations, and Christophe Mathieu, Executive Director of the FCBA Technological Institute, combined their voices in stating that “many stakeholders have already expressed their interest in participating in the next edition of Woodrise, which will help consolidate the groundwork already laid and maximise the contribution of wood as a key material in the fight against climate change.”

Day 1

The eagerly anticipated Woodrise 2019 conference on mid- and tall-rise wood buildings officially opened on September 30 at the Quebec City Convention Centre with speeches by dignitaries and a keynote address by world-renowned engineer Richard Woschitz. He was introduced by master of ceremonies Jean-François Lépine, Quebec’s representative in China, who addressed the crowd in French, English and Mandarin.

An Aboriginal purification ceremony by a member of the Huron-Wendat nation preceded an address by Christyne Tremblay, Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada. There were also speeches by Doug Donaldson, British Columbia Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; and Pierre Dufour, Quebec Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks. They spoke about wood’s place in the bioeconomy and the fight against climate change.

Woschitz, the principal engineer behind Vienna’s 84-metre HoHo Tower, then took the stage. He spoke about the benchmark multi-storey wood construction. Its 24 floors are home to apartments as well as business and service areas.

Attendees, among them a who’s who in the field of mid- and tall-rise wood buildings, also heard from Woodrise 2019’s co-organizers, Christophe Mathieu, Executive Director of the FCBA Technology Institute in France; and Stéphane Renou, President and Chief Executive Officer of FPInnovations. Renou spoke of the challenges facing mass-timber construction. He told the crowd, “We need everybody to work together, collaboration is key.”

A stimulating performance by the group LightsnDrums concluded the official opening of Woodrise 2019. The evening was capped by a welcome cocktail held in the exhibition hall. Conference-goers got the chance to meet and mingle with stakeholders and decision-makers in the midrise and tall wood-building industry.

Woodrise 2019 brings together nearly a thousand participants and exhibitors from some twenty countries to share the latest developments and discover the most recent advances in wood construction around the world.

Day 2

The second day of the Woodrise 2019 conference saw capacity crowds attend the introductory conference, as well as the plenary sessions on mass-timber construction projects and the contribution of timber construction to the bioeconomy and carbon market. The Technological Showcase wowed delegates with projects and innovations taking place in the industry.

Jennifer Cover, President and CEO of WoodWorks USA, spoke about the state of wood construction in the world during the introductory conference, “Update on International Policies Implemented – Leaders and Emerging Countries.” Cover noted that “our challenges are the same wherever we are on the planet.”

The morning plenary session on “Emerging Mid-Rise and High-Rise Timber Construction Projects Worldwide” was moderated by Eric Karsh, Principal at Equilibrium Consulting in Canada. Speakers, including Nicolas Laisné of Nicolas Laisné Architects in France, Karim Khalifa of Sidewalk Labs in the US and Jean-Marc Dubois of Nordic Structures in Canada, shared their experiences working on projects. Laisné spoke of three major challenges faced by architects designing with mass timber; flexibility of buildings’ uses, shared spaces and density.

A still audience listened attentively to architects Ana Belizário and Carol Bueno of the Amata mixed-use wood-building project in Brazil. They spoke of a return to nature for architecture and of a project that is a sensory experience and a metaphor for a habitable urban forest. Bueno told the audience, “we have a social role as architects” to bring nature to cities.

The Technological Showcase, held in the exhibition hall during session breaks, highlighted major projects and innovations taking place in the mid- and high-rise wood-building industry and provided a space for delegates to mingle with peers from around the world and listen to short presentations by companies in the field.

The afternoon plenary session, “Contribution of Timber Construction to the Bioeconomy and Carbon Market,” was moderated by Robert Beauregard of Université Laval in Canada. Anthony Thistleton, a UK architect, gave a captivating presentation on “how CLT can save the world.”

Also presenting were Stéphane de Faÿ, of French urban planning firm EPA Bordeaux- Euratlantique and Michael Marks, co-founder of American construction company Katerra. Marks expanded on how artificial intelligence can work hand in hand with high environmental performance requirements in the construction industry. David Bruchon, of French real estate investment company ICADE, spoke about wood construction and the low-carbon transition.

Languages from around the world are heard in the convention centre halls as attendees from nearly all seven continents network with peers and roam the exhibition hall. The plenary sessions are simultaneously translated in French, English, Japanese and Mandarin.

Minjuan He, an engineering professor from China, delivered her presentation in Mandarin on green and sustainable development policies in China based on carbon-emission calculations and energy consumption. Swedish city business developer, Johan Thorsell, told the audience how the city of Växjö saw its CO2 emissions reduced by more than half between 1993 and 2018 when it built Europe’s first “wooden city.” He also extolled the virtues of wood as a material that promotes health and well-being, a theme that will be addressed at a conference session on Wednesday afternoon.

The second day of Woodrise 2019 ended with a gala evening at the nearby Voltigeurs de Québec Armoury where Woodrise 2019 co-organizer, FPInnovations’ President and CEO, Stéphane Renou, said, “since day 1 of the conference, I have felt the passion everyone here has for wood buildings.”

Day 3

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.

New partner for Woodrise Alliance

The first edition of Woodrise, held in Bordeaux, France, in 2017, gave rise to the Woodrise Alliance, a group of six research institutes that joined forces to define and sign a memorandum of multilateral co-operation for the international development of the use of wood and bio-based materials for the construction or renovation of efficient and resilient zero-carbon buildings. New signatories were then added to the original group in 2018, bringing the list to 25 members, representing 10 countries.

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