December 10, 2006

BC prefab builders join in disaster recovery

It was two years ago this month that a massive tsunami off the coast of Indonesia killing nearly 200 000 people. The regions affected have been on a long road to reconstruction and BC design and building technology are having an impact in the effort.

Britco, a prefabricated and modular home builder in Langley, BC, have been contracted by Save The Children USA to build housing elements that will make up 300 homes in Aceh province. And if things go well, it will lead to the construction of 3000 homes where it's believed 160 000 people died in the tsunami.

The other player in this story is the BC Institute of Technology. They're providing training and design experience and skills to Indonesian builders in the region with money from BC's Forestry Innovation Investment,

Wayne Stevens, director of Canadian Housing and Construction Centre at BCIT, says BCIT instructor Doug Betts "just finished up teaching a three-week course in platform frame construction in Indonesia for local builders working for Save the Children. They'll be taking what they learned and training more workers in Aceh to build BC styled platform frame construction using pre-cut elements from Britco. "

The platform frame construction technique which we take for granted as regular housing construction in British Columbia and North America is an exotic form in Indonesia.

More importantly, North American house construction techniques have proven to be well-suited to earthquake prone regions like Indonesia. Platform frames provide rigid structures able to resist side to side movement found in earthquakes.

Ever since the Kobe Japan earthquake, where a set of BC-designed homes stayed up, the use of platform framing has spread along the Pacific Rim to countries like China, Taiwan, and Russia.

The design of the Britco homes is an adaptation on a traditional Achenese design. It is a square plan with a deep steep roof like a real Achenese home. It's designed to shed rainforest levels of rain. Also, the homes areoff the ground like a typical Rumah Acheh or Achenese High House. And one of the felicitious parts is a deep porch that becomes a heavily-used, outdoor room.

Traditionally, these homes would be masonry or timber frame.

Mike Kiernan of Save the Children says the first of the 300 have just gone up in the village of Tu and weekly batches are on their way. Britco is producing ten homes a week as the weather permits.

No comments:

Post a Comment