Japanese construction company debuts fireproof pillar, drives advent of wooden high-rises


Kazuyoshi Kimura with Shelter Co.’s latest wooden pillar product. Image credit: Hiroyuki Maegawa


A Japanese construction company has developed a wooden pillar capable of withstanding fire for three hours without burning down. Shelter Co.’s invention will allow future wooden buildings to be larger-scaled, scoring one for high-rise wood construction in one of the densest nations in the world.

“Japan has a tradition of wooden buildings, such as Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, that are unparalleled in the world,” Shelter President Kazuyoshi Kimura said in an interview with Asahi Shimbun. “We would also be able to pursue urban planning with wooden buildings even when it comes to modern architecture, where fire resistance and safety are required.”


A rendering of the pillar, where a rectangular wooden pillar is covered by plasterboards, which are, in turn, wrapped in yet another layer of wood. Image credit: Shelter Co.


The pillar is a three-ply structure made of plasterboards covered with a rectangular wooden pillar. The plasterboards, in turn, are wrapped with yet another layer of wood.

When tested in a furnace, the wooden cover as well as wet plaster kept the interior rectangular pillar safe. There were no burn marks on it even after being exposed to temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Celsius for 12 hours.

Shelter originally patented their invention in 2009, and produced wooden products that could be used as pillars, walls or other building components capable of resisting fire for an hour in 2013, followed by more products that could withstand flames for two hours in 2015.

The company has attained approval from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to apply the technology in structures reaching over 15 storeys.