The University of Canterbury has signed a contract with Dominion Construction to build a multi-million structural earthquake laboratory.
The new laboratory combines flexible learning space with large scale testing facilities that include a 300 square metre strong floor and 9.2 metre high reaction walls that have a total length of 28 metres.
The facility increases the Civil and Natural Resources Engineering department’s capacity and capabilities in structural earthquake engineering education and research. It provides the necessary infrastructure for testing full-scale building systems under a variety of load conditions. This is now essential because events such as the Canterbury earthquakes have highlighted the difficulties associated with applying results from small scale or component tests to real world scenarios.
The new facility incorporates spaces that will enable the department to create unique learning experiences for its undergraduate and postgraduate students. The laboratory is central to the university remaining nationally and internationally competitive. The facility will replace the existing laboratory, which will be redeveloped to extend the fire and construction materials laboratories.
International rankings demonstrate that the University of Canterbury is ranked among the top 20 universities in civil and structural engineering. The Civil and Natural Resources Engineering department at Canterbury is the most successful in New Zealand, design codes and methods employed in the design of a number of multi-storey buildings in Christchurch were developed by leading Canterbury engineering academics.
Three engineers from the department received the University Innovation Medal in 2013 for their efforts in playing a significant part in the rebuild of Christchurch for developing flexible timber buildings.
Civil and natural resource engineers Professor Andy Buchanan, Professor Stefano Pampanin and Associate Professor Alessandro Palermo applied their academic knowledge to benefit the wider community, and their innovation and entrepreneurship shows they are leaders in their professions.
Their pioneering research has subsequently made engineered timber buildings popular in the Christchurch rebuild.
Image: The University of Canterbury structural earthquake laboratory.