Director appointed to Timber Design Centre


The Timber Design Centre has appointed Dr Robert Finch as its director.

Dr Finch was formerly director of the Quake Centre, hosted at the University of Canterbury. Prior to this, he was the chief executive for the Structural Timber Innovation Company.

The Timber Design Centre was launched in March 2022 to provide expert advice, research, information and educational resources for key stakeholders involved in building design and construction.

The Centre is an initiative between Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service and a consortium comprising Scion (Crown Research Institute), the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association (WPMA), New Zealand Timber Design Society and BRANZ.

Dr Finch says the Timber Design Centre will play a key role in supporting and encouraging greater use of mass timber building products within the New Zealand construction sector.

“Timber, in all its forms, is a highly desirable building material and the more that is sourced from sustainably managed forests and deployed into built structures, the greater the sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere.

“This will bring real benefits to our communities, the built environment and the planet. The Timber Design Centre will promote and assist more widespread selection and application of New Zealand timber into built structures, with a particular focus on commercial, retail, public and industrial building sectors.

“New Zealand, along with most other countries in the world, is facing the very real challenge of limiting and dramatically reducing total greenhouse gas emissions to minimise the adverse effects of climate change.

“A critically important mitigation strategy in sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere is to ensure that sustainably grown timber is recognised and used wherever possible and appropriate in the built environment sector.”

Scion sustainability architect Andrea Stocchero says the director appointment is an important step forward for the Centre.

“We’re very excited to welcome Dr Finch to this role,” Stocchero says.

“He brings a unique set of skills and experience that will enable the Timber Design Centre to grow quickly and support wider adoption of timber-based construction technologies and systems by the New Zealand building sector. This will in turn support the transition to a low-carbon built environment in New Zealand.”

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is funding the Centre as part of the Government’s Fit for a Better World roadmap. The Centre is one of several key initiatives underway this year to help transform the forest and wood processing sector.

Read more about the Timber Design Centre at