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Engineers capitalise on lessons learnt from quake

Tuesday 12 Apr 2011 6:08 p.m.

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By Juanita Copeland

February's earthquake has provided a team of engineering researchers from Canterbury University with the opportunity to put their theories for quake strengthening buildings into practice.

The group are developing modern engineering practices to apply to buildings to not only prevent collapse, but will leave the building so stable the businesses in them will not even have to close their doors for a day.

The group will focus on strengthening older reinforced concrete buildings, similar to the ill-fated CTV and PGC buildings.

The team utilise scale models of buildings and then shake them to pieces.

"We are using any information we can gather in order to improve our solutions and create new ones," explains PhD student Patricio Quintama.

The team have also looked to ancient Greek temples for inspiration. They were built using marble blocks stacked on top of each other that move with the motion of a quake. Engineers have taken the design one step further and have inserted a metal rod down the centre for extra strength.

"You can have the biggest ever shaking ever imagined and after the earthquake you are coming back to the original position," Associate Professor Stefano Pampanin.

The technique was used in a new building constructed last year. It survived the September and February quakes not just intact, but it was able to be open for the business the very next day.

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