Canada Wood Today | The Canada Wood Group

A decade later, Canada Wood returns to Sichuan reconstruction Site

Steve Ross

By Steve Ross

Senior Director, Technical Services, Canada Wood Shanghai

May 3, 2017

In 2008, Sichuan Province suffered a devastating earthquake. Major cities, small towns and villages sustained heavy damage by the magnitude 8 earthquake, affecting thousands of buildings. The Canadian government responded with 8 million dollars for relief efforts, Forestry Innovation Investment and Canada Wood China were assigned to build several wood demonstration projects in the area. Nearly a decade later, In late January 2017, we returned to the site to see how the wood buildings had held up.

Demo House 1 (2009)




Demo House 1 (2017)

In late 2008, CW China’s technical team arrived in the Qingchuan to build 3 houses to demonstrate to the local government and people how modern wood frame houses could address the seismic requirements, while remaining affordable enough to the local people. This also provided the perfect opportunity to train local builders and construction teams in modern wood frame construction techniques. As wood frame construction was new to the area, there were many challenges to overcome. Something as simple as siding materials were not available and needed to be crafted out of locally produced materials that met the requirements.

Throughout 2009, CW China provided continuous technical support and training to several local construction companies that embraced the new building system. During this time, over 200 units of single and multi-family were constructed, over 100 workers received training, and basic designs provided a low-cost solution to the people of Qingchuan.

Canada Wood returns to examine condition of buildings

Since the reconstruction work in Qingchuan was completed in 2009, the wood frame houses have been the center point for the families who live in them. CW China returned to the area in January 2017 to get a first-hand glimpse of the resident’s perceptions of the wood frame houses, and how well low-costs houses stood up to the local climatic conditions and the local people’s lifestyles. Over the last several years, there have been reports of flooding, earthquakes and landslides.

We were very happy with the results of our visit. After eight years, there were no signs of structural damage. Structurally all the wood framed buildings CW visited have held up very good in the last 8 years despite small earthquakes. Everyone that was interviewed spoke of feeling safe in their wood homes. The only repair done to the houses was roof shingle replacement. The only issues they had was with the quality of the drywall taping, cracks in the exterior siding butt joints that could have been avoided with proper design and construction methods. Due to the selling price and the local design capacity it was not possible to build to high standards.

Demo House 2 (2009)

Demo House 2 (2017)