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Thursday, 29 September 2011

More support needed for local timber and renewable products, says leading architect

A former Professor of Architecture at Queen’s University Belfast has called on leading bodies to support the local timber industry. Tom Woolley feels that timber buildings are less common in Northern Ireland than elsewhere because there is ignorance about the merits of timber among architects and the wider construction industry.

Above: Professor Tom Woolley
“Timber construction is more more sustainable and environmentally friendly than cement and concrete”, says Tom Woolley, who was Professor at QUB between 1991 and 2007. “Concrete has been unfairly subsidised due to the Aggregates Levy Credit Scheme, which is now coming to an end. More support should be given to local timber and the renewable products which are now available to use.”

“The Northern Ireland Construction Industry Group does a good job promoting the interests of cement and concrete, as well as the wider construction industry - but has not done enough on the sustainability agenda,” says Professor Woolley. “The Quarry Products Association acts as a secretariat to the Northern Ireland Assembly Construction Group. MLAs need to know more about the benefits of timber.”

Professor Woolley will chair an upcoming conference organised by PLACE Architecture Centre and Wood-NI on 12th October at the Ulster Hall, exploring the future of timber construction in Northern Ireland.

“Our aim is to bring all the different people with an interest in timber frame buildings and wood based products to strengthen knowledge and support for the design, aesthetic, health and environmental benefits of wood,” says Professor Woolley.

The conference will feature speakers including prominent architects Glenn Howells and John Gilbert, who have designed many innovative timber frame buildings in England and Scotland. Delegates will also be given a policy briefing by the Forest Service.

Other speakers will highlight case studies of timber buildings in Ireland and Northern Ireland and show examples of innovative and sustainable timber products, materials and construction methods. These will feature the new Tesco store in Newtownards and several low energy housing projects. The conference is organised by PLACE Architecture Centre in conjunction with WoodNI and has been sponsored by a number of key organisations.

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- Download the conference flyer [PDF, 80kb]

- PLACE & Wood-NI: Timber Construction & Design in Northern Ireland conference

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