Engineers build in quake resistance

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 07:43 30/06/2012

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A Christchurch office complex designed using New Zealand-first earthquake- resisting technology is the way of the future, a structural engineer says.

The $13 million Addington development includes two multi-storey buildings constructed using steel frames with bolted connections to seismic-energy dissipating elements, which could be replaced after a quake.

Structural engineer Julian Ramsay, of Christchurch's Ruamoko Solutions, said it was the first time the technology had been used in New Zealand and was possibly a world first.

The bolted steel link had been well-researched internationally and subjected to testing at the University of Toronto in Canada.

"We're focusing the damage into a particular element but doing our best to make sure that element is easily replaceable, the theory being you pull out this damaged fuse, as you would a fuse in a fuse box, and insert a new one," he said.

"Everyone moves back into the building and it continues to function."

More common examples of damage-minimisation technology were being used in Christchurch, but Ramsay said the owner wanted an innovative design.

"It was a good opportunity to showcase this kind of technology. It's obviously the way of the future," he said.

New technology was critical in the city's rebuild because the Canterbury quakes had cost nearly $30 billion, Ramsay said. "The problem in Christchurch was that everything was so well insured, but I don't see that happening again.

"It's going to be even more critical that buildings can be reused as soon as they can," he said.

Ruamoko had also designed the country's first commercial building using base isolation technology, at the former St Elmo Courts site in Hereford St, he said.

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