The Chi-Chi earthquake of 1999 struck many traditional timber structures, which resulted in irreversible disaster to cultural heritage in Taiwan. Since then, many efforts had been devoted to investigation on the structural behaviour of these historic buildings. This paper addresses the efforts being invested to studies on the issue aforementioned. Timber is one of the materials that frequently used in historic buildings in Taiwan. A five-year research project was initiated to explore the structural behaviour of traditional Chuan-Dou timber structures. The project involved explorations on the mechanical behaviour of structural components in the beginning, followed by studies on behaviour of the entire structure, which we call the bottom-up approach. In the first stage, an extensive field survey was conducted from central to southern Taiwan to collect the necessary information for experimental designs and tectonic analyses of traditional Chuan-Dou timber structures. Later, studies concerning the mechanical performances of their timber connections and timber shear walls were carried out by experiments and analytical approaches. Tests were also conducted on traditional mud shear walls to obtain the strength within various types of bamboo lath of these mud shear walls. After mechanical performance of these structural components were obtained, full-scale experiments on traditional timber frames were then carried out to study the global behaviour in contrast to those of structural components. The five-year project in Taiwan demonstrates that the structural behaviour of these traditional timber structures can be studied by a bottom-up process and good results obtained.