Canada Wood Today | The Canada Wood Group

“I used to think WFC equals log construction – now I know it’s so much more”

Wayne Iversen

By Wayne Iversen


September 8, 2016

jennifer-insertCanada Wood China’s University Education Program is designed to expose and educate aspiring architects and engineers to wood as a building material. The program aims to offset the sole availability of concrete and steel design courses in Chinese Universities.

We also want to make sure that future designers have adequate knowledge to designing with timber structures, so that they understand both the strengths and limitations of wood as a structural material. Architects and engineers are an important target group for us, as they have the power to influence the main structural materials for building projects.

One of the highlights of our University program is the “Intensive Timber Design Studio” summer program. This year’s theme was “From Trees to Modern Structures”, introducing students to wood as a building material and bringing forth wood as a material of beauty and architectural expression.


UBC timber design instructor Frank Lam introduces Canadian wood species.

Following the introductory module of the program, the course took on a design studio structure, giving students an opportunity to apply their learnings with real-life group projects. The designs consisted of wood based solutions for bus shelter (UBC bus loop); 200 m2 café; and a canopy for an amphitheatre outside the UBC Forest Science Centre.

A final critique session was also conducted with 6 judges from Vancouver including local architect and engineer. Each group gave a presentation on its design followed with review from the judges.


Li Yongdi (far right) participating in the Canada Wood / UBC Timber Design Program

So what do students think about the course? We got straight to the source and caught up with one of the students from this summer’s program, Li Yongdi.

  1. Why did you choose the program?This is one of the few opportunities we have to gain real practical design experience for wood buildings; as a student it is also very rare to get the opportunity to design something which may get built in the future, with actual sites and design specifics. Lastly, I thought it would be a great opportunity to study at such a well-known university such as UBC.
  1. What did you learn from the program?

students-working-in-the-labThis program was the first time I was exposed to designing with wood. Thanks to the program, I learnt a lot of about wood buildings and wood design such as structural considerations, fire resistance, and durability (treatments. We were also exposed to a range of wood products like 2×4 lumber, CLT, NLT, LSL, LVL, PSL; the course also taught us the most suitable application for each.

wood-project-visit-olympic-ovalWe also had access to a world leading lumber manufacturing centre and some of the best instructors around! One of my highlights was visiting a local architecture firm to learn from Canadian architects and structural engineers.

  1. In your opinion, how does designing with wood differ from steel and concrete?
    Unlike steel concrete structures, I think you really need to take prefabricated members into consideration during the design process when building with wood. Because even the size of each member will influence manufacturing, transporting and installing on-site. And you also need to lay down the entire construction processes.
  2. Did your understanding of wood improve as a result of the course?
    I used to think wood buildings equals log construction and light wood frame construction. Since this course I’ve learnt about heavy timber construction, and numerous different types of wood products. Through this course, I have had a comprehensive understanding of wood buildings, from materials, architectural concept design, structural design and integrity, all the way to lumber manufacturing and construction. I now know that wood can also be applied to heavy timber construction, like the Earth Science Centre at UBC, and even eighteen-storey buildings!
  3. Do you have any suggestions for making the program even better?
    I hope this course can be extended and complemented with practical construction modules on top of conceptual design. It would help us develop the most comprehensive understanding of wood buildings.
  4. How will you apply what you learnt during the rest of your studies? You future career?
    This program provides valuable real practical and hands-on wood design experience that I think I can apply in my future work. I also hope that by knowing more about wood and wood design, I can be promoted faster and higher in my design career.
  5. What is your favorite wood building? SFU Surrey Campus