Mass Timber Workshop in the Italian Alps
Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Back in May, when a friend told us about an upcoming professional event in Italy, which were to revolve around technical aspects of #masstimber buildings, networking, and various construction & manufacturing site visits, we knew #Equinox was up for it. Especially that the host company #Rothoblaas was to become a supplier in our very own residential development 'Júlia', a #carbonneutral multi-residential project in Hungary.
After a not-so-short but beautiful journey through Hungary, Slovenia and most of north Italy, we arrived to the HQ of Rothoblaas, which houses half of their rapidly growing staff, nearing 500 as we speak. First of all, what a location! Set between Trento and Bolzano in south Tyrol, vineyards, agriculture, small villages, with a backdrop of the Alps - no wonder the staff we spoke to loved to work in this location.
Our group consisted of 35 professionals covering a wide spectrum of expertise in timber construction: architects, engineers, contractors, prefab manufacturers, developers, suppliers, etc. - beyond business goals, everyone with a sense of mission to promote constructing and living in buildings made of responsibly sourced timber.
The day started off by Peter Lang telling us about the history of the company, dating back to 1986 supplying and repairing power tools for Italian tradesmen, before even founding Rothoblaas. Today, they are one of the key players worldwide in supplying quality fastening elements, screws, brackets, membranes, acoustic isolators for engineered timber projects.
We continued taking a walk around the new fully automated high-bay warehouse, which is going to be the first of its kind made of mass timber once finished in Q1 2022. 20m+ tall across 3000 m2, able to store more than 20.000 pallets, built using approx 3200 m3 timber, stiffened by 20 'bracing towers' made of glulam and LVL, the scale is impressive. Since all connections are secured via screws, the structure can be disassembled with ease at the end of its lifetime.
The rest of the day included several lectures on topics like structural connections, air tightness, vapour physics, or acoustics of mass timber buildings. Having a fairly strong background in building envelope and construction detailing, the content could have been more advanced. Nevertheless, various 'fun' details in the HQ, such as a chainsaw-carved female statue, a bull head, a rather wobbly steel staircase, or the b-shape glass window panel that felt victim to spontaneous breakage, provided the team with enough entertainment.
It was quite fascinating to go through the various 'backstage' areas, including the existing warehouse and the quality control unit, as well as pre-assembled 1:1 details where jointing methods and application were displayed. Being essentially a distributor of goods, Rothoblaas needs to invest much of its activities into marketing, sales, and quality control of incoming products from dozens of factories.
Having had enough of screws, steel plates, membranes and Rothoblaas logos all around the place, the program continued with some further inspiration in the form of site visits to XLAM Dolomiti, an Italian CLT manufacturer, as well as to construction sites in the region, a finished 9-storey multiresidential building, and a shopping mall that is still under construction.
All in all, we had a very inspiring few days in Italy, providing us valuable networks and potential future collaborators, as well as great insight into how one of the largest suppliers in today's timber industry operates. Looking forward to see those screws in action on #Equinox projects!