Holz kann ...


Exhibition content

In the exhibition the broad zones of influence of the institute are represented by the illumination of a partial aspect (in our case the possibilities/challenges with timber construction). We want the visitor to be able to view the exhibition without fixed rules. Nevertheless, we do specify structures, which do not determine the order, but the experience.

The exhibition is divided into wood stations, or "wood totems", which represent trees in abstract form (tree = timber). In addition, a further abstraction is given based on the number of stations (forest = wood).

Accordingly, the exhibition furniture serves as a carrier for the research exhibits and at the same time as exhibited wooden objects. Possible main topics of the individual stations are statics, fire protection, energy efficiency/sustainability, soundproofing/airtightness and timber joints. The exhibition system is characterised by its flexibility.

The exhibition site is located between two access routes and thus provokes the passage of the "wood totems".

Holz kann: Aufbau

Timber joints

In a classic timber joint, two timber parts are assembled together, which complement each other as positive and negative shapes. A third part is only used if tension forces have to be connected. Usually these are nails or screws in combination with steel parts, in the historical timber joint a wood to wood joint is practised. In the carpentry trade, additional gluing is used, when necessary.

The modern mass production hardly works with individual shape-related dimensions. Timber parts are joined by means of standardised additional parts. In addition to nails and screws, there are newly developed joints, such as metal system connectors. Such solutions would use composite for engineered timber construction.

In carpentry work the quality of connection is achieved with discreet handcraft wood-wood and if possible invisible steel parts. the reasons are fire safety and design issues. What is new is a contrary trend to emphasise visible connections and their elements as design components.

Clear connections

Blade joint  with dovetail connection
With this type of joint, a simple panel joint is mainly produced. In addition, a dovetail is sawn out at the end. This joint is very practical and effective and plays an important role during straightening as well as during statics.

Corner joint

To make a Scherzapfen, the front end of one piece of wood is first divided into three parts to make the pin. The same procedure is used for the other wood, except that a kind of mortise has to be cut out. These corner joints are also suitable for the construction of door or window frames.

Fascinating wood
Every day we use products based on the most natural and universal material in the world: timber. Today an incredible variety of wood plants is known – each a highly specialised raw material in its own and very variable due to its specific properties. Light or heavy, soft or hard, flexible or rigid, dense or porous – wood offers a huge spectrum of possibilities, here are a few examples:

Texture: clear annual rings resin channels
Features: Light, soft, coarse-grained, elastic, load-bearing, easy to process and stain, but difficult to polish
Use: Joinery and furniture work, glue lam, cross laminated timber (CLT) pannels, boxes; after protective treatment, building construction.

Pin tree
Texture: clear annual rings more resinous than spruce
Features: Harder than spruce, less elastic, very load-bearing, easy to work, durable, susceptible to blue rot. Often used in combination with pressure treatment.
Use: Good furniture and construction timber, especially for windows, doors, floors, panelling, ship and wagon construction.

Texture: heartwood tree ring porous
Features: The narrower, the milder, the wider, the harder. Less elastic, easily splittable, weatherproof.
Use: Mild wood for furniture and veneers, coarse-grained wood for building, exterior, car, boat and bridge construction. Barrels, parquet, thresholds

Texture: scatter-porous
Features: Medium heavy, hard, evenly dense, easy to work, elastic, rather flexible. Very sensitive when wet.
Use: Furniture, veneers, musical instruments, table tops, kitchen utensils, carvings, parquet floors, shoe lasts, fretwork, toys

Characteristics of the Austrian Forest

Forest area: 4 million hectares of 8.4 million total area Growth/year 4,000 hectares of commercial forest (incl. 8% protective forest in yield), 82% protective forest without yield, 12.5% timber stock, 1,135 million cubic metre timber growth, 30.4 million cubic metre, timber harvest (forest inventory) , 25.9 million cubic metre timber harvest (timber harvest 2012), 18 million cubic metre of which 53% go to the sawmill industry, 18% to industry (paper/panel/cellulose) and 29% to energy use.


Timber can do a lot – the renewable raw material has experienced a real boom in recent years in many areas, but above all in the construction industry. Outstanding material properties such as statics, energy efficiency/sustainability, high precision, short building time – but also fire protection – make timber and timber compounds an indispensable and lucrative building material.

The stations present trees in abstract form and, as exhibition furniture, are also carriers for research exhibits.

Research project

Unit of Timber Engineering, Department of Structural Engineering and Material Sciences (Faculty of Engineering Sciences)

This micro exhibition is part of the 350th anniversary of the University of Innsbruck.


Tobias Hoffmann, Dominik Wagner Institute of Design (Faculty of Architecture)

Project members

Anna Luison, Tobias Rettenbacher


(Credit: Tobias Hoffmann)

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