Canadian Midply Shear Walls Launched in Japanese Residential Housing

On May 17th the Canada Wood Japan team visited with major Japanese home builder Ichijo Komuten at a construction site to witness the first use of the Midply shear wall in a residential application in greater Tokyo area. The Canada Wood technical team has been in discussion with Ichijo Komuten for approximately 3 years to assist in the technical development and broader market adoption of Midply in Japan. The first residential use of Midply is in a 115m2 two storey 2×4 home in Koshigaya Laketown in Saitama Prefecture. The builder adopted the use of Midply in a new line of high performance homes to deliver the next generation of seismic performance in 2×4 construction. The Midply walls consist of SPF dimension lumber and OSB structural panels that are used extensively on the first and second floors. This use of Midply allows for the homes to substantively exceed the seismic performance of even the top class of Rank 3 homes currently designed under Japan’s Housing Performance Labelling Index. Midply is an open source Canadian building innovation developed by FP Innovations and UBC. Canada Wood Japan is broadly promoting Midply in Japan as the next generation seismic building solution.

Japan Housing Starts Summary for February & March 2018

Total February housing starts edged down 2.6% to 69,071 units. Wooden starts fell 3.2% to 38,340 units. Pre-fab housing fell 8% to 10,063 units. Post and beam housing declined 3.2% to 29,070. Platform frame starts fell 3.0% to 8,255 units. The decline in 2×4 starts was primarily attributable to a 5.9% decrease in multi-family rentals. Platform frame custom ordered and built for sale spec housing gained 0.8% and 4.4% respectively.

March housing activity decelerated significantly with an 8.3% drop in total starts. Rental housing fell 12.3% compared to owner occupied single family starts which dropped 4.2%. Total wooden housing retreated 4.3% to 39,736 units. Post and beam starts fell 4.3% to 30,106 units. Wooden pre-fab fell 4% to 911 units. Platform frame starts fell 4.4% to 8,719 units. As with the previous month, results for platform frame were dragged down by weakness in rentals; single family starts showed gains. Platform frame rentals fell 9.1% to 5,385 units, custom ordered single family homes increased 3.0% to 2,226 units and built for sale spec homes increased 7.4% to 1,086 units.

Japan Economic Update

According to Cabinet Office date, Japan’s first quarter GDP slipped by 0.2%, thereby ending two consecutive years of continuous growth. The decline was attributable to flat consumer spending and a slight decrease in capital investment. The majority of analysts contend that this decline is a temporary blip and that economic fundamentals remain strong. A tightening labour market resulted in a 1.3% year increase in average wages and inflationary pressures are picking up. Improved capital spending and exports are expected to Japan’s GDP is expected to return into positive territory for the balance of the year.

Elderly Facility Suzuran

Yoshitaka Architects Engineers & Consultants has just finished another spectacularly designed and constructed 2×4 fireproof building in southern Japan. The architect firms latest work, is a long-term care geriatric health facility built beside the Ken Ai Hospital located in Onga District, Fukuoka Prefecture, which the same medical corporation owns and manages. This facility is made up of two platform frame construction (PFC) structures, with a combined floor area of 3,830m², consuming approximately 730m³ of SPF dimension lumber. In addition to this, all the walls in the project were structural sheathed with Canadian OSB. The main 3-storey building for the project is comprised of 80 bedrooms that is attached to a large single storey building that has a soft curving roof uniquely designed with bowstring trusses that span 23m, which serves as a rehabilitation room for the seniors living at the total care complex. The facility is owned and operated by Ken-Ai Medical Corporation and the general contractor for the project was the Fukuoka Branch of Matsuo Construction Co., Ltd.

Five-storey Office Building in Kyoto

An attractively designed wooden office building was one of eight projects recently selected and received recognition last month for “COFI Midrise Wood Building Design Award”. Not only is the project unique that it is 5-storey 2×4 building, but it is also a great example of potentially a new market for platform frame construction in this country. The first floor consists of a reinforced concrete podium on which the 4-platform frame construction upper floors sit, built with 2×4 fireproof approvals that COFI and the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association received from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Each upper floor is creatively set- back to produce a unique triangular designed building structure that is not your typical 2×4 box like structure with a total floor area for the building being 1,015m². The company who own, designed and constructed the building is Liv Corporation. They are a local home builder based in Mukō City, Kyoto Prefecture who annually construct around 50 homes. When the company decided it was going build a new office for its employees, they decided to put their money where their mouth is. Since they were designing and selling 2×4 homes for customer they decided to also build their new office with this construction method, which is exactly what they did.