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Wood innovators share their ideas on open source web portal

Words:
Stephen Cousins

Finnish manufacturer aims to promote development and uptake of modular timber innovations

Open Source Wood was created to boost the development and uptake of modular timber innovation.
Open Source Wood was created to boost the development and uptake of modular timber innovation.

More than 500 design professionals have signed up to an open source web portal that encourages innovation in timber construction.

Architects and structural engineers from Finland, Sweden, the UK and Germany have submitted ideas to the Open Source Wood initiative, set up by Finnish manufacturer Metsä Wood to promote innovative wood products and structural systems.

Ideas uploaded to the portal are made freely available for discussion, collaboration and modification. Metsä Wood’s experts then select the most promising innovations and work them up into detailed drawings and 3D BIM objects.

A collaboration with the free 3D design model library ProdLib, announced earlier this month, makes these selected ‘reviewed’ innovations downloadable for use in the most popular BIM and CAD software formats, including AutoCAD, ArchiCAD and Revit.

The idea behind Open Source Wood is to make modular timber innovations more available to a wider audience. Mikko Saavalainen, Metsä Wood’s senior vice president of business development, says: ‘The common preconception is there's lots of discussion in the wood industry, but not enough innovation. But after meeting many people in the field I realised there is lots of innovation but it's not readily available, it resides inside people’s heads, laptops or PCs. We thought, okay let's build a service to make that knowledge available to all.’

The portal adheres to a Creative Commons public copyright licence that enables the free distribution of otherwise copyrighted material. The lack of intellectual property rights need not deter people from contributing ideas, according to Saavalainen, it can actually generate business.

Idea for a new form of high rise timber construction that combines ‘village’ and city scale spaces
Idea for a new form of high rise timber construction that combines ‘village’ and city scale spaces

‘If an engineer designs a great building system or element and uploads the idea to Open Source Wood it is available for all, but what often happens is the person who wants it for a project also needs someone to design an entire building, so they contact the designer to commission them for that work too.’

The platform currently features around 150 ‘reviewed’ innovations, which are considered safe and feasible to be built. Each one has a detailed 2D information sheet explaining the build system and components; a 3D model is created at a later stage. Initially submitted ideas can be a detailed proposal or a simple sketch that’s work up into a more detailed drawing in collaboration with Metsä Wood experts.

The company plans to expand the initiative in February to embrace other sustainable hybrid products and systems that include a combination of wood and steel / concrete elements.

‘Our aim is to give a small group of people, mainly structural engineers and architects, a very specific forum to cooperate and share specialist competence in wood construction,’ Saavalainen says.


Open Source Wood

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