Engineers say cost-effective technology exists to combat earthquake damage and it should be used in all future building projects.
As a Royal Commission of Inquiry continues its probe into why so many Christchurch buildings collapsed during February’s magnitude 6.3 earthquake, the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering is calling on the building industry to make more use of technology.
It states base isolation and Precast Seismic Structural Systems – Presss – should be considered for all new buildings up to nine storeys.
“Base isolation and structural techniques have already been put to the test under extreme conditions in Christchurch.
The base isolated women’s hospital and the Southern Cross endoscopy building, which uses Presss technology, both performed well in the recent earthquakes,” society executive officer Win Clark said.
Base isolation, developed at Industrial Research near Wellington, involves the building’s superstructure being separated from the ground by rubber bearings with lead inserts, lowering sway motion.
It is now widely used around the world, including at Te Papa and Wellington’s hospital.
The seismic system grants controlled rocking of a structure’s joints, which softens an earthquake’s impact, springing the building back into position.
There are already eight US and four New Zealand buildings using the technology. Clark stated its beauty was that it could be used in precast concrete and timber buildings, which were quick to build.
“These technologies are effective in mitigating the damage caused by earthquakes, and are quick and cost-effective. They should be used, where appropriate, in all new buildings in New Zealand,” Clark said.
“It’s essential those responsible for the rebuilding of Christchurch comprehend how effective these technologies are,” Clark said.
The commission, chaired by Justice Mark Cooper, has requested information on the system of building controls before 1991 from Christchurch City Council.
The inquiry into the building failures in the city has also commissioned reports from leading technical experts.
It has received 62 expressions of interest from people keen to participate, including bereaved families, witnesses who saw buildings collapse, people who were trapped, rescue workers, building owners and tenants, quantity surveyors, structural and mechanical engineers, and builders.
The commission is due to provide an interim report by October 11 and a final report next April.
– Sunday Star Times
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