In-market tour of South Korea’s Wood Construction Sector
As an extension of the BC Forest Delegation mission to Japan, Michael Loseth and Jim Messer of BCFII and Bruce St. John of Canada Wood Group spent a week in South Korea meeting with Korean industry stakeholders and discussing opportunities for future collaboration and joint market development activities.
This was their first return to the market since outbreak of COVID pandemic. The market tour consisted of site visits to wooden prefab factories, modular home builders and business meetings with industry representatives and government officials.
First stop was a site visit to our latest wood infill wall demonstration project in Cheonan city, a 4-story Social Service Centre building. The concrete super-structure was completed and the wood infill wall were under construction. Ms. Jeong, CEO of the centre expressed her gratitude to Canada Wood and BCFII for providing the financial and technical support to the project. “The use of a wood infill wall is a new and innovative solution, contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions at the Cheongan Care Centre” said Ms. Jeong.
In the afternoon, the group visited Space Factory, a wooden prefab manufacturer and Case Group, a leading wood construction builder. Space Factory operates a semi-automatic wood frame modular production line that churns out 400 modular home units per year using Canadian wood. In order to meet the ever-increasing demand, the company plans to invest in a second production plant to add an additional capacity of 1000 units per year. The new facility is slated for operation in early 2024.
“I believe that wood is the best construction material to build energy efficient homes complying with the government’s policy on carbon neutrality. Therefore, I think that the demand for wooden construction will continue strong in the future.” Said Mr. Kwak Dong-Wook, President of Space Factory.
With support from the Korea Wood Construction Association (KWCA), an industry advocacy and long term partner of Canada Wood for the 5-star quality certification program, the group visited the newly completed Inter-Korean Forestry Cooperation Centre, a mass timber demonstration building on Day 2. Ja-il Koo, head of KWCA research institute gave an update on the annual progress on 5-star quality certification program which has seen certified homes grow steadily.” Thanks to Canada’s support, the five-star quality certificate program has been established in Korea and the members and owners of the buildings are becoming increasingly interested. ” Said Mr. Koo.
The afternoon tour on day 2 started at XiGEIST’s prefab display home in Hanam city. XiGEIST is a subsidiary of GS Engineering and Construction, one of the 5 largest construction conglomerates in South Korea. The Prefab subsidiary factory in Hanam, equipped with automated machinery, was established two years ago to speed up GS E&C’s foray into the global prefab market. Canada Wood Korea provided project management and technical guidance to help the company construct their display home.
Looming labour shortages within the building industry and South Korean net-zero targets mean that prefabricated homes could be the future of affordable and eco-friendly housing for Korean developers. “For the past two years, our automated process has allowed us to supply high-efficiency homes at competitive costs. We are confident that our business can be further scaled up to meet the growing demand. We would like to continue to receive technical support from Canada Wood Korea and work together on building more future projects.” Said Jaecheol Kim, a Senior manager of XiGEIST.
Final stop on the tour witnessed a MOU signing ceremony between the Architectural Institute of Korea (AIK) and Canada Wood Korea. The memorandum is an important part of developing and growing markets with South Korea’s leading architect community. AIK is the largest architectural research institute in Korea with a registration of 27,000 architect members.