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Investigating a safe and cost-effective hybrid wall solution for future builds

Simulated seismic testing on a four-storey 8.8 m tall building using a 4 m x 6 m shake table.

The Canterbury rebuild is being carried out using earthquake resilient construction designs such as buckling restrained steel braces, post-tensioned rocking systems, and base isolations. However the question is do we need newer, imported materials, or can we do just as good a job by using cost effective materials that are already available in New Zealand?
That’s what Canterbury University’s Dr Minghao Li is exploring with a $67,000 grant from EQC’s Biennial Grants Programme along with funding from the Natural Science Foundation of China. 

Dr Li’s research involves testing how a four-storey hybrid structure consisting of commonly used steel frames infilled with light timber framed shear walls can perform in an earthquake. Dr Li and his collaborators from Tongji University in China carried out simulated seismic testing on a four-storey 8.8 m tall building using a 4 m x 6 m shake table in Shanghai.
“The testing was carried out at one of the world’s largest shake table facilities in Shanghai and this is powerful enough to test the actual seismic performance of the building under strong earthquake shaking.  

“The building performed very well with minor damage observed under a series of strong shakings including one earthquake record that was 1.4 times stronger than the original record obtained from the Christchurch Botanical Gardens during the February 2011 earthquake.”

“Research work is still ongoing at University of Canterbury and we are testing a lot of structural connections that are critical to the performance of the hybrid system.” 

“We believe this will provide a competitive solution for multi-storey multi-unit residential buildings because of the combination of timber and steel and we want to optimize the design and integrate this hybrid concept into building systems.” 

“The aim of our project is to feed the findings and outcomes of our research into ongoing and future earthquake strengthening design and builds in New Zealand, to improve building resilience, and keep people safe,” Dr Li says.

This research is one of 15 projects which have received $1 million in funding from EQC’s 2016 Biennial Grants Programme. The Programme is part of the high quality research that builds knowledge about NZ’s natural disasters. The application process for funding in the 2018 programme will open later this month.  

EQC Media Contact - or 029 978 6430.


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