The conference kicked off on Monday, 9 May 2022, with a full-day bridge tour that took delegates from Biel to Fribourg, over the Jaun Pass into the Simmental valley, and then back towards Bern and Biel. From new builds to antique, heritage-protected wooden bridges for road traffic, the tour covered a wide range of engineering structures. The delegates had the opportunity to inspect each of the bridges from close up and to exchange views on the different construction methods and details. Of course the tour wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the famous Cailler chocolate factory.
Back in Biel, the next highlight of the conference came in the early evening. In the context of ICTB 2021PLUS, a first working model of a heavy-duty wooden bridge module was inaugurated at BFH in Biel in the presence of Erich von Siebenthal, a member of the Swiss National Council. The Council of States and the National Council have adopted the motion “Research and innovation on timber for use in infrastructure construction as a contribution to decarbonisation”, which was submitted by Jakob Stark. The objective is to replace reinforced concrete in infrastructure construction with CO2-absorbing materials such as wood. Working with TS3 and other business partners, the Bern University of Applied Sciences has developed a research strategy and a working model of a future bridge cross-section. At the end of the first day, the international delegates enjoyed a traditional cheese fondue in the courtyard of the BFH in almost summery temperatures, bringing the day to a pleasant close.
On Tuesday, 10 May 2022, the conference got underway in the BFH's large lecture hall. The more than 80 delegates present and the 40 or so online participants from all over the world were officially welcomed by Bern University of Applied Sciences, the Federal Office for the Environment and the organisers. Over the following three days, keynote presentations alternated with 20-minute technical presentations on the topic of timber bridges. Delegates both at the venue and online had the opportunity to put their questions to the speakers, who contributed a total of 40 talks between them.
The programme was interspersed and supplemented by the real-world exhibition, for which various companies presented their products and services in the adjacent foyer during the coffee and lunch breaks. This allowed the delegates to network in a relaxed setting. Additionally, two half-hour slots in the afternoon offered the exhibiting companies the chance to present themselves to the national and international audience with a pitch both to the attendees present and those online.
On Wednesday evening, the conference dinner was held at the Omega Museum in Biel. The delegates were able to visit the interesting exhibitions of Omega and Swatch watches beforehand. The evening drew to a relaxed close in almost summery temperatures on nearby Schüss Island. The conference ended on Friday, 13 May 2022, with a visit to the first two wooden wildlife bridges in Rynetel and Neuenkirch.
The organisers would like to thank the donors SNSF and FOEN Wood Action Plan for their financial support for the conference and the sponsorsPLUS and other sponsors for their active organisation of the conference.