Canterbury shakes put STIC building to the ultimate test
The offices of the Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC), EXPAN’s developer, have certainly been put through their paces when it comes to seismic resistance – enduring thousands of aftershocks that have hit Canterbury since the devastating quakes of February 22 and June 13.
The unique timber engineering technology has proved its worth – standing unscathed in the face of the region’s seemingly relentless ground movement.
The two-storey building at the University of Canterbury is the base for STIC CEO Rob Finch and his team, and a showcase for EXPAN timber structural technology. It’s now also become a standing testament to the seismic protection offered by EXPAN’s LVL timber construction, remaining entirely intact and undamaged on February 22, and beyond.
Canterbury University's College of Engineering Associate Professor Dr Stefano Pampanin is not surprised at how well the building has performed through the series of earthquakes and aftershocks.
“The building fulfils the promise of this technology – to emerge from a major earthquake, or in this case, several major earthquakes, with no structural damage.”
On top of the hits Mother Nature has thrown at the STIC offices, the EXPAN technology had undergone extensive laboratory testing at The University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering laboratories.
A 2/3 scale model of the building was put through a range of movements and loads that an earthquake can inflict on a building, with simulations of differing intensities of shaking, and different lengths, including many approximate magnitude 8 quakes, resulting in no structural damage.
The building itself was first assembled in the College of Engineering lab, where it was subjected to intense slow motion pulling and pushing pressure, again, coming out structurally sound. It was then dismantled, and reassembled at its current location on the University lawn – showing another beauty of EXPAN, that it enables buildings to be dismounted, and remounted at another site.
The STIC building will continue to tell the story of the performance of timber technology long term, with instrumentation onsite that reads acceleration of an earthquake, and tracks building movement.
While Stefano’s not surprised at the building’s performance, as one of the researchers behind the technology, he’s certainly proud at how well the showcase structure has stood up to the region’s considerable seismic activity.
“February 22 was an intensely powerful earthquake, so it put the building to a huge test, and it’s come out unscathed.”
“We are now able to raise the bar, and offer technology that meets demand for buildings that do more than stand up to an earthquake, but remain viable. We have the opportunity, with technology developed right here in Christchurch, to give a much higher protection, not only from loss of life, but building damage – both crucial factors in the planning of a safer, economically strong, new city.”