NMIT Arts & Media Building – damage mitigation using post-tensioned timber walls

C.P. Devereux, T.J. Holden, A.H. Buchanan & S. Pampanin

The NMIT Arts & Media Building is the first in a new generation of multi-storey timber structures. It employs an advanced damage avoidance earthquake design that is a world first for a timber building. Aurecon structural engineers are the first to use this revolutionary Pres-Lam technology developed at the University of Canterbury. This technology marks a fundamental change in design philosophy. Conventional seismic design of multi-storey structures typically depends on member ductility and the acceptance of a certain amount of damage to beams, columns and walls. The NMIT seismic system relies on pairs of coupled LVL shear walls that incorporate high strength steel tendons post-tensioned through a central duct. The walls are centrally fixed allowing them to rock during a seismic event. A series of U-shaped steel plates placed between the walls form a coupling mechanism and act as dissipators to absorb seismic energy. The design allows the primary structure to remain essentially undamaged while readily replaceable connections act as plastic fuses.

In this era where sustainability is becoming a key focus, the extensive use of timber and engineered-wood products such as LVL make use of a natural resource all grown and manufactured within a 100km radius of Nelson. This project demonstrates that there are now cost effective, sustainable and innovative solutions for multi-story timber buildings with potential applications for building owners in seismic areas around the world.

There are also files associated with this article that are available for download:

Return to Journal index