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Composites to show strength in Christchurch rebuild

5 August 2011

Composites to show strength in Christchurch rebuild

New Zealand’s fibre composites industry will be showcasing its far reaching design and construction capabilities, both on its own and in combination with more traditional construction materials, giving it an important role to play in the rebuilding and restoration of the heritage of Christchurch.

At a one day seminar sponsored by the fibre composites industry body, the Composites Association of NZ (CANZ), and manufacturers from throughout the country will be presenting their proven technologies and solutions to rebuild cities following earthquakes and other natural catastrophes.

To be held at the Chateau on the Park Hotel, Riccarton, Christchurch on Friday 4 November, South Island fibre composites manufacturers will be strongly represented with participating companies from Christchurch, Timaru and Dunedin.

CANZ President, Bobbie Mortensen, says the seminar will bring together an impressive group of fibre composites industry leaders who will demonstrate through presentations, case histories and discussion, just how suitable composites technologies and materials are for rebuilding a city still experiencing unsettling and damaging aftershocks.

“Because of their unique properties such as superior tensile strength, high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion and chemical resistance combined with extreme flexibility, fibre composites, on their own and in combination with traditional construction materials, will have a big part to play in the successful rebuild and restoration of Christchurch,” says Mrs Mortensen.

“The rebuilding will benefit from wide ranging international fibre composites technologies and design solutions that have been tried and tested in situations around the world that are similar to those in Christchurch,” she says.

Mrs Mortensen says fibre composites have a long and successful track record in the rebuilding of cities having suffered severe earthquakes with notable examples being San Francisco, Kobe and Mexico City.

“At the same time, a great deal of knowledge involving new fibre composites technologies, design, materials and construction methodologies, has also been gathered over the past 50 years through close involvement in providing solutions for the rebuilding of cities and towns devastated by the huge tornadoes that sweep destruction across the United States’ Mid west,” says Mrs Mortensen.

“Fibre composites are exceptionally versatile and offer unique engineering benefits especially for earthquake zones. Seismic resistant buildings using fibre composites materials either on their own, or more usually in combination with steel, concrete or wood, offer innovative solutions to earthquake problems including ongoing seismic activity.

“The lightness of the fibre composites reduces seismic loads in the frames and foundations of buildings and structures. At the same time the resilience and ductility of fibre composites allows them to deform and yield, absorb energy and dampen vibration while retaining good strength.

“These earthquake resistant buildings make even more sense when you consider the massive costs of disruption to the whole of New Zealand caused by the overwhelming damage to the non earthquake resistant buildings in Christchurch,” she says.

Mrs Mortensen says the seminar will be especially useful for material specifiers such as architects, engineers, developers and builders, as well as local body and government bodies.

“They will discover that cutting edge fibre composites processes are available to provide the full suite of technologies, design and materials that will be required to restore Christchurch, most of it involving new construction and the retrofitting and strengthening of existing buildings, as well as the replicating of the city’s heritage facades and other historic building items,” she says.



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