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The common thread of a “typical day” is dynamic

Igor Gavrič, researcher at InnoRenew CoE; main area of research: timber buildings

  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

I spent my childhood in Mengeš, a small town about 15 km north of Ljubljana. After I completed undergraduate study in Ljubljana, I spent several years abroad; first a year and a half in Trento in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, then a few months in Christchurch, New Zealand, and after that two years on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver. About five and a half years ago, I moved back to Slovenia, currently living in Ljubljana.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

During my undergraduate studies, I studied civil engineering. During my PhD, I focused further on timber buildings. I think that my decision about the study was influenced by several factors. During my childhood, I spent summer months at the countryside with my relatives, where I spent quite some time in the woods. After, during my high school years, I had several summer jobs related to construction and woodworking. Among other things, I worked in a furniture factory for a couple of summers, where I had a chance to operate CNC woodworking machines. I would also watch very interesting documentaries, “Extreme Engineering”, where I got excited about the civil engineering profession.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

Learning about the properties of wood as a building material and harnessing its full potential in sustainable building. Research, development and application of knowledge in the field of timber construction. Creating project documentation for the construction and renovation of buildings with an emphasis on the use of renewable, sustainable materials and in accordance with the architect’s vision and the wishes of the investor.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

A real typical day does not exist as every day brings something new. The common thread of a “typical day” is dynamic. There is an interweave of research and industry work, where, on the one hand, I am achieving new insights in the timber engineering area through analytical, numerical and experimental analyses, and, on the other hand, in collaboration with architects and other engineering professionals, I co-design projects for new buildings or building renovations or perform inspections and measurements on sites.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

Above all, that I can, through a combination of curiosity, technical knowledge and creativity, participate in the process of transforming natural materials into construction of buildings where people live and feel well and safe.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

With so many interesting parallel research topics and projects, the biggest challenge is to optimally distribute available time and focus to each of them so that the right balance is achieved in order that the outcome of each project can benefit most from it.

  • Which scientist or scientific achievement are you fascinated by and why?

In the field of civil engineering, I particularly appreciate the outstanding engineering achievements from the period of ancient civilizations when access to knowledge was much more restricted and modern tools and help of computers were not available.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

It’s hard to select just one. In books, movies and music, I always look for stories that give me a new view, inspiration or perspective on something or life in general.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

Recently, in addition to reading and listening to lots of children’s books and poems (?), I watched documentaries on culinary, nutrition and personal growth, e.g., “Chef’s Table” and “The Call to Courage”.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

Strunjan Landscape Park, where the forest path first leads you to the top of the cliff and offers beautiful views and then descends to Moon Bay beach.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

Getting to know new places, people, food, cultures and languages. Running in nature in all seasons in every weather.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

Follow your inner voice.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

I find the charm of wood in the possibility to connect with it on many different levels: smell, texture, colour, aesthetics, warmth, contact with nature.