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First post-tensioned timber building opens in Christchurch

First post-tensioned timber building opens in Christchurch

March 10, 2014

The first multi-storey post-earthquake timber building using low-damage post-tensioned timber technology has opened in Christchurch.

The wooden superstructure building in Victoria Street, owned by Tony Merritt, is the first quake-resilient open-plan timber office building in the city rebuild.

The building’s post-tensioned design and technology is the brainchild of the University of Canterbury (UC) civil engineering professors Andy Buchanan and Stefano Pampanin with support from senior lecturer Dr Alessandro Palermo.

Their research began before the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and it resulted in pre-fabricated and glue-laminated box beams and solid columns, used in the design of this building by architect Jasper van der Lingen of Sheppard and Rout and structural engineer Jade Kirk of Kirk Roberts.

The timber is threaded with high-tensile steel tendons and shock-absorbing steel componentry that enable the building to essentially spring back into alignment after a major quake.

Another large post-quake building, for Trimble Navigation, officially opens in Christchurch on April 4.

``The Trimble building uses the same post-tensioned timber technology as the Merritt building. It is only two storeys but it covers a much larger area. The Trimble building is a hi-tech building with all the latest Trimble technology for monitoring building performance.

``Another similar technology structure is being built in Kaikoura for the Kaikoura District Council which will contain a museum, library and council offices. It is a three storey building, built entirely of wood above the concrete foundations. It uses post-tensioned rocking timber walls for low-damage earthquake resistance.

``On the corner of Montreal Street and Hereford Street by the Christchurch City Council offices, the 1930 St Elmo Courts, which were demolished after the earthquakes, has been replaced by a

a six-storey office building using an optimum combination of materials.

The three UC engineers at the cutting edge of safe building design in the post-quake era have been recognised for their efforts in playing a significant part in the rebuild of Christchurch.

Last year they were awarded UC’s Innovation Medal for using their academic knowledge to benefit the wider community. The trio were chosen following their innovative contribution to the new system of earthquake-resistant buildings using post-tensioned structural timber.

College of Engineering Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Evans-Freeman says the trio spent many years’ work, along with creative and innovative thinking, to produce state of the art safe building technology.

``Their contribution includes research, development, promotion and technical support. Their pioneering UC research has lifted engineered timber buildings into serious contention for the Christchurch rebuild after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.’’

The work of the leading UC engineers has resulted in the use of timber as a structural material and new buildings of up to 10 storeys are being built in Europe, North America and Australia, with proposals for a 30-storey timber building on the drawing board in Canada, Professor Evans-Freeman says.

The UC engineering research resulting in structural support for Christchurch and New Zealand shows that UC is a leader in the development of timber buildings.

Engineering has always been UC’s trump card but the university recently jumped to 19th in the world in civil and structural engineering according to the latest QS world university rankings by subject. Civil engineering at UC is ranked third in the southern hemisphere.


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