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Researchers Prepare Our Homes For Big Earthquakes

When the next big earthquake hits what will happen to our homes? Researchers are working to make sure they are as safe as possible.

The study led by Andrew King of the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) aims to provide New Zealanders with safer low rise buildings.

“Large damaging earthquakes, although fortunately uncommon, are to be expected throughout New Zealand,” said Mr King.

“Most of our homes and many of our shops and offices are timber framed buildings. In an earthquake, these types of buildings respond quite differently to more conventional engineered systems or higher rise buildings.”

The primary focus of the research, which is an investment of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, is ensuring the safety of New Zealand houses and low-rise buildings when they are subjected to an earthquake attack.

“Many New Zealand homes a built containing interior wall linings which are used as a structural brace for our homes. While cheap, these bracings are not used widely internationally,” said Mr King.

“We are examining how these structural bracings react under extreme stress, such as an earthquake, by testing them under simulated earthquake loadings.”

The research has involved using a two-storey timber-framed house that was designed using different combinations of various bracings and walls. The artificial house was then subjected to simulated earthquake cycles.

Mr King’s research findings will be valuable for both designers and builders.

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