Timber seismic advances

Buildings have had a very good performance in the latest earthquakes in Chile. This is due to a long history, since the early 20th century, of lessons learned after each earthquake and applied to the development of new design requirements. Most of houses and buildings in Chile are masonry and concrete structures. But timber construction represents about 17% of the existing stock of structures. Most of them are one to two-storey houses, and few have three or more floors. These are mostly old buildings from mining towns.

Currently, research is being developed in local Universities to adjust timber construction of mid-rise buildings to the most up to date Chilean Earthquake Design Codes, so as to increase the participation of timber in Chilean construction. Therefore frame platform and CLT, made of local species, will be present in near future local structure Design Codes, and we expect to have 6-storey buildings by 2020.

Chañaral Project

The UC Timber Innovation Center, has developed technological responses on timber that allows us to have various building systems. They have been adapted to different weathers, both cold and hot, maintaining an adequate indoor comfort condition.

Regarding its conceptual framework, the three vertices of the model “Eco-Sustainable Neighborhood” are perfectly applicable to other realities. Today, this model is being very successfully replicated in response to the housing committees of families with public subsidies by SERVIU of the regions of O’Higgins, Maule, Los Lagos, Los Ríos, and Aysen. There are realistic hopes for this project to be also applied in the region of Antofagasta. All these regions have different climates.

Starting on the project of Chañaral, the development plan consists of two areas: 1) The development and implementation of at least eight new neighborhoods in different regions and cities of Chile using these projects. It also includes making technical and professional skills available in each of those places that this model can be replicated with local capabilities. 2) Develop a new type of mid-rise housing buildings that allows the social housing access to central areas, where land values requires a development of higher density.

Social ecofriendly housing project

Project developed by the UC Timber Innovation Center in cooperation with the Ministry of Housing, Seremi and Serviu from Biobío Region. The development is made up of 14 social housing buildings of 4 story made of timber. A total of 140 departments.

These constructions are designed to fulfill all the standards concerning fire resistance, acoustic conditions and perimeter walls made of a “double wall ventilated”.

Moreover, a cooperation agreement was signed with the DITEC which is under the Minister of Housing and Urban Planning. The advance encompasses the creation of pilot programs for “ecofriendly neighborhoods of social housing” in every region from O’higgins all the way down to Magallanes.

Opportunities and gaps for timber construction in Chile

Chile is a world leader is the forest industry having 13.359.519 hectares of native forest. 2.447.591 hectares of plantations and a volume of sawn timber that reached 7.998.781 m3 in 2014 (mainly from radiate pine) The country has made available its products in many countries in 5 continents which has ranked Chile as number 12 producer in the world.

In contrast, the use of wood in the Chilean construction industry is still very limited having only 17% of our houses made of wood. The use of wood in buildings of three or more story has not been explored yet. This low demand of buildings made of wood can be explained by considering the negative perception of users as wooden construction development is not as advanced as the development of other materials.

This problem/opportunity is confirmed by new technological developments in which wood has been accepted by local people.