InnoRenew CoE celebrated its fifth anniversary with the grand opening of its newly built home in the Livade district of Izola (Slovenia) on 15 February 2022. With this, the institute has acquired a unique facility for research and innovation in the field of renewable materials and healthy living environments. Tuesday’s ceremony marked the culmination of five years of strong collaboration between InnoRenew CoE, founding and project partners, policymakers, industry, and other important stakeholders.
“When we started the construction two years ago, we together built the wooden tree,” Dr. Andreja Kutnar, InnoRenew CoE director, said. “Today, we are sitting in our new home, reaping the fruits of our strong joint efforts.”
Participants at the event received wooden apples made from Slovenian wood by Jože Koželj, a Slovenian craftsman, symbolizing the fruits of collaboration and looking towards new ideas and discoveries, just as the Newton apple helped to discover gravity.
The InnoRenew CoE building was made possible through infrastructure investment co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund. Dr. Mitja Slavinec, Republic of Slovenia’s State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, and Danilo Anton Ranc, Director-General of the Wood Industry Directorate at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, were in attendance to remark upon this outstanding achievement.
“As you know, we have recently adopted a modern scientific research law with a large consensus of stakeholders, and we are striving to create conditions for your successful and stimulating work and research environment,” Secretary Slavinec said. “We believe that the entire investment is a very good opportunity, especially in connecting science and economy.”
“The work of InnoRenew CoE in the field of wood research and use of wood contributes greatly to the development of the woodworking industry in Slovenia,” Danilo Anton Ranc added. “Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe, and wood is one of the essential elements in the transition to a low-carbon society. It is important that we look for ways to add as much value as possible to our strategic raw material and, at the same time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This project of building the largest wooden building in Slovenia is an excellent example of good practice, which will greatly contribute to achieving these goals, and the new building will put the Slovenian wood industry on the world map.”
A hybrid combination of timber, concrete and steel, the InnoRenew CoE building is a unique example of sustainable construction within the country, representing the transfer of research knowledge into industrial practice.
Eva Prelovšek Niemelä, InnoRenew CoE architect, who designed the building with Aarne Niemelä and the collaboration of InnoRenew CoE scientists, gave a video presentation about the building’s design and construction process. She highlighted the integration of ongoing research and monitoring by the institute’s researchers. The wooden section of the building took 850 cubic meters of wood, the humidity of which was measured in 400 places during construction. Construction from cross-laminated timber proceeded quickly, being completed in just five weeks. The building is also equipped with permanent sensors that will further research to determine wood durability and analyze the effects of wooden construction on human health and well-being.
VG5, a leading construction company, and its partner Marles hiše Maribor, along with Projekt and Proplus, supervision companies, are responsible for successfully constructing the InnoRenew CoE building—the largest wooden budling in Slovenia.
The grand opening ended with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, building tours, and viewing of the “Papiro-logía – Circular Design and the Use of Paper in Interior Design” exhibition. Created within the InnoRenew project framework by the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region from paper donated by the Pulp and Paper Institute, this exhibition highlights continuing cooperation between the project partners. DS Smith d.o.o. and industrial designers from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, collaborated in the exhibition.
This important achievement would not be possible without the support and rewarding cooperation of InnoRenew CoE’s project partners—the University of Primorska, Fraunhofer WKI, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, the Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute, University of Maribor, Pulp and Paper Institute, Zavod eOblak, National Institute of Public Health, Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region and InnoRenew CoE.