ProHolz Tirol, under the direction of KommR Dipl.-Ing. Helmuth Fritz and the management of Dipl.-Ing. Rüdiger Lex, together with the federal state of Tyrol and the University of Innsbruck, were the initiators for the establishment of an endowed chair for “timber construction, timber composite construction and wood composite materials”, which with the appointment of Dipl.-Ing. Michael Flach was founded in 2002 as an independent chair at the Institute for Construction and Materials Science. 

The aim was to set an impuls for the forestry and timber industry in Tyrol through research and education and to seize appropriate space for timber construction within the University. After a successful evaluation in 2007, the endowed chair was taken over by the University of Innsbruck as the Unit for Timber Engineering and distinguished itself throughout Austria, but also internationally, as a practice-oriented educational and research institution in timber engineering. 

Particular emphasis was placed on an intense networking with neighboring research fields such as energy-efficient construction, sustainable urban development and cross-material connection technologies. Thanks to the intensive acquisition of third-party funded projects and the related expansion of laboratory and production resources, the Timber Construction Unit has become a key driver of the Technical Test and Research Institute (TVFA) (link) at the University of Innsbruck and now advises and supervises national and international companies. In addition to the accredited material tests in the field of wood-based materials and fastener technologies, sound and airtightness measurements are carried out as well as small fire tests using a cone calorimeter. The model building laboratory initially set up for students was expanded with machines, and another milestone was set in 2015 with the commissioning of a computer-aided joinery machine in the TiroLignum in Absam. 

A special inspiration for research projects was the Wood Future Forum, which is organized annually together with ProHolz and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. In an open exchange with selected specialists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, visions of the future could be drawn up, from which joint futue-oriented research projects were concretized. Frequently, the Timber Construction Unit reported in detail about its R&D activities as part of the Innsbruck Timber Construction Days, every 2 years employees gave presentations on selected topics at the World Conference on Timber Engineering (WCTE), and once a year the chair was co-organizer of the International Wood Construction Conference IHF in Garmisch giving presentations and in form of moderations. In 2019 the International Wood Construction Forum IHF changed place and has since then been taking place in Innsbruck. 

The University education extended to the areas of civil engineering and architecture. As part of the revision of the curricula, the scope of lectures and courses was significantly increased in order to meet the increasing demand from students. In addition to the basics regarding the dimensioning of timber structures, the focus was on the structural design and the use of modern fasteners. A special feature was the integration of the model building laboratory and the CNC joinery system. Numerous student projects on a 1:1 scale were implemented here in order to also emphasize the manual part of the training. In addition to the University education, the Timber Construction Unit organized numerous continuous education courses, which resulted in further networking between research, planning and practice. 

The awards for important research work include e.g. recognition from the “Dr. Houska Prize 2005", the Canadian Innovation Award 2010 for the so-called Österreichhaus in Whistler and the English "Product Innovation Award 2019" for the "Spider Connector". 

In 2019, Professor Flach, the first head of the Timber Construction Chair, retired. His succession was secured by the appointmentof Philipp Dietsch, who took up his position in March 2020. Following Philipp Dietsch´s move to the KIT, the University of Innsbruck decided to advertise a tenure-track position. Mr. Roland Maderebner prevailed in an international field of applicants and has held this position since February 2023.









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