Nikša Todorović – Designing with a Purpose
Meet Nikša Todorović, a valued member of our team at Acetra and a specialist in mass timber structural design. In this employee spotlight, we sit down with Nikša to discuss his journey with our company, his thoughts on the future of mass timber in the construction industry and how he stays up-to-date with the latest techniques and technologies. From the unique challenges and opportunities presented by mass timber, to the importance of balancing sustainability and environmental responsibility. Join us as we get to know Nikša and his contributions to our team.
Designing with a Purpose: Balancing Sustainability and Environmental Responsibility in Mass Timber Structural Design
What inspired you to work in mass timber structural design?
Nikša Todorović: When I explain to people what I do, I often say that working in mass timber structural design is one of the most interesting jobs in the construction industry, and certainly a unique example in Serbia. When something is completely new, then it is challenging, and challenging means leaving the comfort zone. On the other hand, certainly the most important reason is the possibility of leaving a mark on exceptional projects, in the field of construction, which is in its relative infancy.
How do you stay up-to-date on the latest mass timber structural design techniques and technologies?
Considering the fact that the mass timber is spreading to all parts of the world at an extraordinary speed, the process of acquiring new knowledge comes naturally. Working on projects in over 10 different countries means getting to know at least as many foreign top engineers, architectural styles, and regulations. All this, together with the exchange of experiences and knowledge with other team members, means that we are always in step with the most modern techniques and technologies in mass timbre.
What are some of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by mass timber structural design compared to traditional building materials like steel and concrete?
Compared to traditional building materials like steel and concrete, mass timber structural design presents unique challenges and opportunities. In addition to the fulfillment of static norms, the most significant challenge is to find suitable aesthetic solutions harmonized with the architecture of the buildings. Hiding or showing certain parts or the entire structure is a challenge rarely encountered with concrete or steel. On the other hand, steel and concrete are the most used materials in modern construction practice, and therefore, knowledge of their characteristics and applications are largely ahead of mass timber.
How do you approach the design of a mass timber structure? What factors do you consider?
Regardless of the circumstances, it is necessary to satisfy all the technical, aesthetic, time and technological requirements of each project. Consequently, joining the project obligates the simultaneous analysis of these categories and the harmonization of the procedures used to arrive at an optimal solution. There is no identical approach, given the uniqueness of each project, but the pursuit of a simple solution, supported by good practice and experience, is a universal principle when it comes to the design of a mass timber structure.
How do you balance the need for sustainability and environmental responsibility with the practicalities of mass timber structural design?
The logical question of everyone who deals with mass timber is, how is it environmentally acceptable, if the basic building material is obtained by cutting forests? This is a problem that should be given the greatest importance and placed at the very top of the priority list. Although far more acceptable than concrete and steel, mass timber has not completely eradicated its ecocidal characteristics. The future of mass timber must be reflected in finding a solution in the form of creating sustainable managed forests or similar projects.
What are your thoughts on the future of mass timber in the construction industry?
The data that in the USA in the last decade, the number of buildings built from mass timber has increased from 26 to over 600, speaks volumes about the upward trend, which at the moment is trying to progress only in more economically developed countries. In order to justify ecological efficiency and preservation of the environment, as the two main reasons for using mass timber, it is necessary to find a solution to make it accessible to everyone. Environmental awareness and introducing people to the advantages of mass timber are the first step in establishing mass timber as an extremely important material in the modern construction industry.