Quake-safe house attracts strong interest

'This building is pretty unique and ... quirky'

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2013
Structural Timber Innovation Company quake-proof house
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

GUIDED TOUR: Dick Thomas of Colliers, left, takes Creative NZ members Chris Herbert and Stephen Wainwright through the earthquake-resistant house.

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For sale: an experimental home built in a lab and tested to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake.

The two-storey open plan 100sqm building was constructed in 2009 in a civil engineering lab at the University of Canterbury, by the research consortium, Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC).

Technologies trialled in the building are now being used in 10 buildings around New Zealand, including three in Christchurch.

The building has created a lot of interest since it was put on the market two weeks ago, Colliers International investment broker Dick Thomas said.

He had received more than 40 inquiries from people interested in using the building for commercial offices and some wanted to convert it into a home.

"This building is pretty unique and could be described as quirky. It will make a statement on their property."

Thomas said the building was being sold via a closed tender, so he would not say its value.

"I guess people will make the decision based on comparative build costs."

The building was proven to withstand seismic testing of up to a magnitude 8 quake.

It was dismantled shortly before the September 2010 quake, but was reassembled on the university grounds and has withstood the Canterbury quakes since February 22, 2011.

STIC chief executive Robert Finch said STIC was selling the building because its five-year research and development programme was largely complete.

"We've completed all the work now. It has done its job."

STIC was set up to develop and commercialise new technologies that will enable structural timber to compete more effectively in industrial and commercial building sectors.

The building, designed by Thom Craig, uses post-tensioned Laminated Veneer Lumber frames and shear walls with the exterior featuring marine grade ply and polycarbonate transparent panels.

Finch would not say how much STIC hoped to get from the sale of the building.

The technology tested in the building was now being used in a building in Victoria St, another in Birmingham Drive and a third in the central business district.

The tender closes on May 31.

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