The Aesthetic Appeal of Wooden 2×4

Manten Social Welfare Corporation builds another senior home using platform frame construction. This is the third 2×4 elderly care project the owners, Mr. & Mrs. Yamada, have built in Japan since participating in COFI/Canada Wood Japan’s Elderly Care Tour Mission to Canada ten years ago. Their latest project was constructed in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture and opened on April 24, 2020. It is a two-storey 2×4 building with a total floor area of 1,240 m², in which about 170 m³ of wood products were used, and to keep construction costs down, the building’s design is straightforward and clean. The concept for this care home is to relax and unwind in “the warm feeling of wooden 2×4” and “the aesthetic appeal of nature supporting wellness,” for not only the residents but staff as well. The benefits of living in a 2×4 home are something the Yamada’s know first-hand, as they live in a three-storey custom 2×4 home that they had built in Osaka in 2014. It is lovely to see the passion they have for 2×4 and moreover, how they enjoy sharing it with others. If you are interested in reading past blog articles on their other 2×4 endeavours, please visit links below.

Two, Three & now Four-storeys . . . (February 1, 2016)


Proud New Home Owners (April 1, 2014)


Wood Nursing Home Opens (September 5, 2012)


Exterior photo of Community Nursing Home Menten Takatsuki


NLT Technical Project Report Published

This past year COFI/Canada Wood Japan worked with the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association to facilitate the spread of large-scale wooden buildings using Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) in horizontal diaphragms such as roof and floor structures. One of the goals was to confirm 1-hour quasi fire-resistive performance for floor assemblies and 30-minute quasi-fire resistive performance for roof assemblies. Regarding structural performance, the research required NLT configurations with butt joints to evaluate and compare performance versus NLT without butt joints to ensure all potential structural weaknesses are fully understood. COFI and the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association jointly worked to conduct a series of bending tests. These were the 4-point loading bending test to 2×12 and 2×8 Canadian SPF. After collecting the data, we confirmed that our numerical modelling works accurately on the rotational rigidity at the butt joints. Those test results were compiled in a 508-page report booklet. This report has recently been completed and released and will serve as a resource for structural engineers designing NLT diaphragms.

Japan Housing and Non-residential Starts: Jan&Feb 2020

January’s total housing starts dropped 10.1% to finish at 60,341 units for the seventh consecutive monthly decline. Owner-occupied housing declined 13.8%, and rental housing fell 2.5%. Wooden housing fell 11.2% to 33,849 units. Post and beam starts fell 11.1% to 26,055 units. Wooden prefab fell 17.9% to 781 units. Platform frame starts posted a 10.8% decline to 7,013 units. By housing type, the breakdown in platform starts is as follows: custom ordered homes dropped 14.5% to 2,092 units, rentals declined 7.3% to 3,939 units and built for sale spec homes decreased 15.5% to 967 units.

February total housing starts continued to trail year prior results with a 12.3% drop to finish at 63,105 units. Owner-occupied and rental housing fell 11.1% and 18.9%, respectively. Wooden housing fell 10.4% to 35,824 units. Post and beam starts fell 10% to 27,778 units. Wooden prefab ventured further into niche territory, falling 12.2% to 761 units. Platform frame starts dropped 11.9% decline to 7,285 units. By housing type, the breakdown in platform starts is as follows: custom ordered homes declined 9.8% to 2,153 units, rentals declined 12% to 4,109 units and built for sale spec homes decreased 13.3% to 1,007 units.

2×4 system, A Win-Win Solution for Maruyama Pig Farm in Japan

Recently Scott Anderson (APA Canadian Program Representative) and I had the opportunity to visit a customer working on an agricultural project in Hitachi-Omiya City, Ibaraki Prefecture. As reported in previous blog articles, the Canada Wood team is working with our partners here in Japan and making good progress in branding our wood products and growing their use in the non-residential market segment. Another vibrant example of the inroads that are being made on this file is a new barn at the Maruyama Pig Farm. It is owned and operated by Hirano Corporation, an agribusiness that specializes in pork production with a capacity of breeding and raising 120,000 pigs annually. The recently completed new weaner pig barn has a total floor area of 1,976 m², which consumed roughly 355 m³ of SPF dimension lumber and Canadian OSB.

Hirano Corp. chose to adopt the 2×4 construction method for this barn building because it proved to be roughly 20% cheaper compared to steel, and upon completion, they found out it was also easier to insulate a wooden structure and keep the indoor environment at a constant temperature. A win-win for the company as well as providing a much healthier and safer living environment to keep and raise piglets. The new simple and cost-effective design was provided by Sunrise Architects & Planning Office (SAP), and the structural wood products were supplied by Dairi Lumber Co., Ltd. It is interesting to note that both these companies participated in our Japanese Non-residential Wood Construction Mission to Canada in 2016 so it is great to see that they are putting what they learnt into good use in Japan.

Innovative Canadian Earthquake Resitive Technology Expands Wood Design Possibilities in Japan

Canada Wood is delighted to report the first commercial adoption of a newly developed Midply wall system for post and beam applications in the Makado Kagamimochi Nursery School in Tochigi Prefecture. This innovative building is a 750 square meter one storey post and beam structure that uses Midply to achieve the required large openings.


Originally developed by FP Innovations, Canada’s national forest products research institute, the Midply shear wall system achieves high structural performance by redesigning wall structural assembly and optimizing the use of nail and screw holding performance. The system is simple in that it comprises of commonly available wood and metal fastener products – its technology is available for public use and it does not rely on expensive proprietary technology.

In recent years, Mokuzoka “木造化” has been a emerging trend in global architecture. But a key challenge, to expand wood into larger public buildings is that these structures require much stronger performance against typhoons and earthquakes than standard wooden homes due to the complexity and scale of these buildings. Since 2009, Canada Wood has worked with leading structural engineers at Nihon System Sekkei and have conducted extensive shear wall testing at Tsukuba based government authorized test facility the Centre for Better Living to adopt and certify the use of Canada’s earthquake resistive Midply technology to the performance requirements of the Japanese building code.


The Midply shear wall used in the Makado Nursery School, was especially developed as an infill shear wall which can be inserted in common post and beam construction to deliver between two to three times the structural performance of a standard wooden shear wall. The assembly is a perfect example of “Tekizai Tekisho” – using the right wood products for the correct use. It utilizes Canada Tsuga 45x45mm, 45x90mm and 105×105 Hem-Fir (N) structural components, which are known for their superior nail holding ability along with 15mm JAS Certified 3×6 OSB structural panels. The 15mm OSB panels are sandwiched in between two 45mm pieces of Canada Tsuga to obtain the same wall depth as standard 105×105 Hashira.


Canada Wood’s Marketing & Technical Support Representative – Hybrid Building Systems, Yusuke Neriko presented the structural benefits of Midply to Tezuka Architects and structural engineering firm Ohno Japan and provided technical support in bringing the project to fruition. The project was able to secure building permit approval utilizing Canada Wood’s Midply Centre for Better Living test data reports. The structure is expected to complete at the end of March 2020.  The project was completed on March 31 and was opened on April 1.


The Makado Kagamimochi Nursery project team consists of the renowned Tezuka architects and structural engineers Ohno Japan, and together they have won awards from the Architectural Institution of Japan, the Good Design Award, and a Global award for sustainable architecture. The opportunity arose to use Midply as the team were looking for an innovative and elegant design solution to achieve the required shear wall performance. The use of Midply enables a more open design plan to facilitate large window openings and provide a bright and pleasant environment for the children to play in. The attractive one storey 750m2 structure features an inner courtyard play area and fits in very well with its idyllic circumference environment. This is the first time the Midply Infill wall assembly is used in post and beam construction.


Project Name: Makado kagamimochi nursey school

Architect: Tezuka Architects

Structural engineer:  Ohno Japan

Number of stories:    1-story (Flat building)

Total floor area: 750㎡

Building site:  Sano city, Tochigi Prefecture