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Terner & Chopard and the new timber - a historical inquiry into the early application of laminated timber in Switzerland

English title Terner & Chopard and the new timber - a historical inquiry into the early application of laminated timber in Switzerland
Applicant Rinke Mario
Number 173412
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Professur für Architektur und Tragwerk Institut für Technologie in der Architektur ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Architecture and Social urban science
Start/End 01.10.2017 - 31.03.2021
Approved amount 204'096.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Architecture and Social urban science
Civil Engineering

Keywords (5)

Construction history; Switzerland; Timber; Building history; Glued laminated timber

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Zwischen 1909-1933 entwarfen die Ingenieure Terner & Chopard die ersten Brettschichtholz-Bauten der Schweiz und gestalteten so die Kultur der frühen modernen Holzkonstruktion massgeblich mit. Das Forschungsprojekt wird erstmals die dabei entstandenen Gebäude erfassen und sie in den internationalen Kontext und den Modernisierungsprozess des Holzes einordnen.
Lay summary

Terner & Chopard war eines der bedeutendsten Ingenieurbüros in der Schweiz des 20. Jahrhunderts. Sie waren für zahlreiche der modernen Holzbauten verantwortlich, die auf der neuen  Herstellungsweise von schichtweise verleimten und speziell gebogenen Holzbrettern basierten. Die Schweizer Ingenieure Bernhard Terner (1875-1960) und Charles Chopard (1879-1954) erwarben das Patent für diese Erfindung und das exklusive Nutzungsrecht in der Schweiz. Während der folgenden 24 Jahre entwickelten sie viele aussergewöhnliche Holzkonstruktionen, die mitunter auch international auf grosse Resonanz stiessen und zu den herausragendsten architektonischen Beispielen der zeitgenössischen Holzbauten zählen.

Das Forschungsprojekt wird die in dieser Zeit entstandenen Bauten erfassen und deren Rolle im nationalen und internationalen Kontext herausarbeiten. In der Folge sollen die konzeptionellen Einflüsse anderer Baumaterialien, die sowohl im Entwurfsprozess als auch in der Entwicklung der ersten Holznormen auftreten, sichtbar gemacht werden. Dabei werden mithilfe historiographischer Methoden architektonische, kulturelle und detaillierte konstruktive Aspekte einbezogen, um zu erklären, weshalb und wie Brettschichtholz auf die jeweilige Weise verwendet und geformt wurde, d.h. warum und wie verschiedene Komponenten und Verbindungen entwickelt wurden und warum viele Details so verschieden vom traditionellen Holz sind.

Die Forschung ermöglicht ein tiefgreifendes Verständnis der frühen Brettschichtholt-Bauten und -Normen, womit es auch einen besseren Zugang zur heutigen Konstruktionskultur herstellt. Vor allem für die aktuelle Sanierung solcher Bauten könnten diese Einsichten besonders wertvoll sein. Ausserdem kann die Studie helfen, die Wurzeln und das Wesen des Schweizerischen Holzleimbaus zu lokalisieren.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 13.04.2017

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Between 1909-1933 the structural engineering office Terner & Chopard were responsible for the first modern timber buildings in Switzerland and therefore had an enormous influence on the culture of early modern timber construction. The research project will provide a survey of early glued laminated timber structures and contextualizes them within the timber modernization process and with international influences.
Lay summary

Terner & Chopard was one of the most important Swiss engineering firms in the 20th century. They have been responsible for the first modern timber structures in Switzerland based on the new technology of industrially fabricated timber using thin planks put on top of each other specifically curved if desired and glued together. Swiss engineers Bernhard Terner (1875-1960) and Charles Chopard (1879-1954) acquired the patent for this technology and the exclusive right in Switzerland. During the following 24 years they developed many extraordinary timber structures, which also have been acknowledged internationally and belong to the most distinguished architectural examples in timber construction of that time.

The proposed research project will provide a survey of early glued laminated timber structures developed by Terner & Chopard and clarify their role in the national and international context. It will clarify conceptual influences from other building materials both visible in the design process of these structures and the development of the first timber regulations. Architectural, cultural and detailed constructional aspects will be consider using historiographical methods to explain why glue laminated timber was used (and shaped) that particular way, i.e. why and how different details and component shapes have been developed and why details were so different from traditional timber construction. This research will provide a profound understanding of the first glue laminated buildings and regulations and allows a better understanding of the implicit construction philosophy we use today. This will be especially helpful when the restoration of such structures is discussed today. The study will provide a clear localization of the origins and the nature of Swiss glued laminated timber.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 13.04.2017

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Abstract

Terner & Chopard was one of the most important Swiss engineering firms in the 20th century. They have been responsible for the first modern timber structures in Switzerland based on the new technology of curved glued laminated timber. Only a few years after Hetzer’s technological invention the Swiss engineers Bernhard Terner (1875-1960) and Charles Chopard (1879-1954) acquired the patent and the exclusive right in Switzerland. In fact, at their time they were the only company in Switzerland designing glue-laminated timber buildings. During the following 24 years they developed many extraordinary timber structures, which also have been acknowledged internationally and belong to the most distinguished architectural examples in timber construction of that time. Additionally, they have been involved in some important material research programs together with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) which led to the first Swiss timber building code in 1925. Although Terner & Chopard helped to establish an early high profile timber engineering focus in Switzerland, their work and their role have never been specifically researched.The proposed research project will make a substantial contribution to the cultural and technical history of engineering in Switzerland. It shall, for the first time, provide a complete survey of early glued laminated timber structures developed by Terner & Chopard and clarify their role in the national and international context. This research will clarify conceptual influences from other building materials both visible in the design process of these structures and the development of the first timber regulations. Links, concepts and developments in other important countries of that time, such as from USA, Canada, Germany, UK, and France, or developments in other industries, e.g. aircraft and boat-building, will be taken into account. Architectural, cultural and detailed constructional aspects will be consider using historiographical methods to explain why glue laminated timber was used (and shaped) that particular way, i.e. why and how different details and component shapes have been developed and why details were so different from traditional timber construction. This research will provide a profound understanding of the first gluelam buildings and regulations and allows a better understanding of the implicit construction philosphy we use today. This will be especially helpful when the restoration of such structures is discussed today. The study will provide a clear localisation of the origins and the nature of Swiss glued laminated timber.
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