The use of timber in modern construction is set to be a major focus of Ecobuild 2013, the leading tradeshow for sustainable construction in the UK.

The event is likely to be a major draw for carpenters, joiners and other woodworking professionals, many of whom will be among the close to 60,000 people who are expected to attend the event.

The growing importance of timber in construction – not just as a finishing material but in timber frames for buildings as well, and other purposes – has meant that many of the UK’s top timber suppliers and manufacturer will be at the tradeshow, which is on 5-6 March this year at London’s ExCeL. One of the main conference sessions at the event will be entitled ‘How far can wood replace concrete and steel?’, while two of the key speakers – Mike Taylor, a partner at Hopkins Architects, and Richard Harris, professor of timber engineering at the University of Bath – will discus the heavyweight potential of timber during an hour-long session on the last day of Ecobuild 2013.

Speaking to the Timber Trade Journal, Andrew Carpenter, the chief executive of the UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA), said that Ecobuild will be a major opportunity for wood and timber supplier and for the professional woodworkers whose skills are likely to become more and more sought after in years to come. He said, “Our aim for Ecobuild 2013 is to raise awareness of the benefits of timber frame to the rest of the construction industry and to ensure that we're providing the products our customers need.”

In a display that is now a recurring feature of Ecobuild, architecture students from Kingston University will create a rendering of a famous timber structure at the event, to show how timber is already being used as a crucial building component – and has been for a long time. This year the students will be building a nine-metre timber spire, a combination of Lincoln Chapter House Roof and Salisbury Cathedral's spire, which houses a timber structure.

Senior lecturer at Kingston, Tim Gough, told the Timber Trade Journal that the construction will be a clear display of the skill and dedication required of carpenters and joiners when they work with architects.

“It’s hoped that the design of the spire will evolve each time it is erected. Learning from the process, improvement will be made, the structure can be extended and adapted, and repair will be implemented,” he explained. “Timber can be easily fixed with a variety of methods; it can be easily cut and otherwise worked; the members can be reused if mistakes are made or if the design takes a different direction; and it has a strength in both tension and compression relative to its weight, which makes it extremely flexible in use.”