2024 Pinnacle Lecture – Konrad Merz

Date:  March 9, 2022
Presenter: Konrad Merz, co-founder of engineering practice Merz-Kley Partner.

“Timber Construction, Low Tec – High Touch”

Hardly any other building material has such a positive image as wood. This is not primarily due to its properties, which are important to us as engineers, but rather to its aesthetic and tactile qualities and the fact that it accompanies us from cradle to grave in the form of objects such as toys, musical instruments and other everyday objects that we hold dear.

In our approach to the structural design of wooden buildings, we try, where possible, not only to use the qualities of wood as a building material in an appropriate manner, but also to take advantage of its additional qualities.

Meet our Keynote Presenter

Konrad Merz, co-founder of engineering practice Merz-Kley Partner.

Konrad Merz studied civil engineering at ETH Lausanne and has a Master’s degree in wood construction. After that, he worked for a Swiss glulam manufacturer and a Canadian producer of engineered wood products (EWP). Konrad believes in materials’ synergies, working with the best mix of materials for each individual project.

Konrad selects the type of structure based on the parameters of the project, in terms of the required function, the design, the client and the architect’s wishes, aesthetic preferences, the size and budget of the project and the availability of the different materials in the area where construction will take place. He classifies hybrid floor structures, usually composite floor structures of wood and concrete, based on the desired cross-section, combing concrete with CLT, horizontal glulam, glulam beams with wood panels in between or with nail laminated timber (NLT). Konrad creates different static connections between the wood and concrete, depending on the effect required, achieving that either with milled notches in either CLT or NLT, for example; or using screw fixings, or glued-in nail plates in glulam beams.

Konrad observes that in dealing with a large building with many floor structure components of the same design, he aims for prefabricated concrete and wood units; however, if the design of the building is more varied, or there isn’t a factory for prefabrication within a reasonable distance, he uses site-cast concrete on top of the prefabricated wooden floor structure. He notes that the choice of method also depends on the cross-section, connections and on-site assembly or prefabrication of the concrete, and that each method has its pros and cons.

Konrad sees many options and is convinced that each building requires its own solution. He believes that building in wood is going to become increasingly common in the future, as wood plays an important role in cutting carbon emissions.

Link to keynote video recording is available here but are restricted to members only.

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