Massey arts building inspired by toy
A child's toy inspired the design of a world-leading Wellington building that should be able to withstand a tremor larger than Christchurch's February 2011 earthquake.
Massey University's new creative arts building has a timber frame reinforced by sturdy steel cables so it will flex during earthquakes, coming to rest in its original form.
One of its engineers, Dunning Thornton Consultants director Alistair Cattanach, likened the design to a child's wooden "push puppet" toy, in which, when you push the bottom, the parts connected by cords move independently then spring back into place.
"The idea is that, if they rock, the energy is absorbed into specific devices of the building. It is the first time it has been done in a timber frame in the world. It's not easy doing things the first time."
The walls, floors and ceilings would flex more than in an ordinary building, but they would then settle back rather than rupturing and creating damage.
The Massey University building, designed by Athfield Architects, took a year to come to fruition. It was an environmentally friendly structure that heated easily on cold days and cooled on hot days, Cattanach said.
Its timber design was similar to that of the concrete Alan MacDiarmid Building on Victoria University's campus.
Dunning Thornton Consultants was peer reviewing a similar building in Christchurch's rebuild.
Creative Arts Pro Vice-Chancellor Claire Robinson said students and staff were looking forward to moving into the state-of-the-art building next month.
"Design both reflects and shapes how people think. We have embraced a building design that opens up our thinking and puts almost no limits on creativity."
The building, called Te Ara Hihiko, will be formally opened by Sir Richard Taylor on Friday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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