Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What Now?

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  • Fooman, in reply to Raffe Smith,

    Incidentally, the forthcoming revision of NZS3604:2011 (timber framed building standard) places Christchurch in zone 2 for earthquake bracing requirements. Wellington is zone 3, while zone 4 straddles the southern alps and the plate boundary. Any structural engineers about who could illuminate this?

    Cavet: Engineer, not structural, but I taught some structural engineering (to NZS3404 - steel structures) as part of a mechanical design course at CPIT, many years ago. So please forgive inaccuracies from the passage of time.

    The NZ design standards are reasonably basic. They work on the basis of working out the load on the initial design, and then comparing them to the specified load carrying capacity of the beams/structural elements used. The loads are based on self weight, capacity (i.e. what the building has to carry, other than itself), wind loading and earthquake loading. Wind loading is based on the effective "sail" area of the building, and the expected wind velocities assigned to a region. Similarly, the earthquake loading is based on the weight of the structure and the expected acceleration from an earthquake in a region, expressed as a fraction or percentage of weight.

    These loadings are then applied to the detail of the structure, e.g. prevention of localised buckling by additional webs, load transfer across structures, bracing, and the whole design is checked again to see if any changes in the structure still fit the requirements of the standard. The factors of safety are built into the specified load capacity of the standard beams and the zonal loads.

    Based on the unprecedented peak ground acceleration and previously unknown faultlines (from both the Sept and Feb earthquakes), these zonal load factors may be reviewed, and the boundaries changed (i.e. CHCH may be zone 3 from now on).

    I can only presume that NZS3406 works in a similar manner - I suspect is is more conservative (due to wider scatter in the properties of the building material and wider scatter in the skills of the people designing and building such structures), but the I think the loadings would be worked out in a similar manner.

    hope this helps,
    FM

    Cheers,
    FM

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    To be honest, I think this isn't a conversation we should be having now.

    This is a conversation I've seen other Christchurch residents have on Twitter. I appreciate it absolutely could be distressing for some, but I know others are comforted by thoughts of a beautiful new Christchurch.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    My kids' school is also in the bus exchange building (mine are at the primary school, Emma's at the secondary next door) so if, or whether they will be going back to that site is a discussion for a loooong way in the future. I feel, however, that we are much luckier than those damaged schools in the eastern suburbs because our school community is built on a shared philosophy rather that a neighbourhood so school really is wherever we meet.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to BenWilson,

    Some of it was also because the Allies renounced the idea of endlessly punishing them for it, and instead rebuilt those countries, rather than squeezing their throats with sanctions.

    Ahem. Some might say... another time maybe.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The two Churches mentioned are warnings, not memorials and therefore are not suitable analogies for Christchurch’s Cathedral IMHO.

    Fair point, and one I hadn't thought of. I saw it when I was 16, and all I really saw was an extraordinarily beautiful, and moving, building.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    This is very close to the bus exchange.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    One problem will be striking a balance between getting things built quickly and building quality things to last. My understanding is that the response to the September quake was to cut the red tape so that developers could knock things up quickly. That doesn't preclude adherence to earthquake codes, but might count against involvement of all stakeholders in conversations about design principles etc. I worked for 15 years in a prefab that had been set up as temporary office accommodation many years before (and it's still there 10 years later), so I can see a real challenge in transitioning from rubble to exemplary without going through something fairly nasty on the way.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    This is a conversation I’ve seen other Christchurch residents have on Twitter. I appreciate it absolutely could be distressing for some, but I know others are comforted by thoughts of a beautiful new Christchurch.

    Oh, not the one about rebuilding*; I don't mind that one at all. The one about how one's favourite policy prescriptions are now utterly and exactly what's called for, and if you disagree you're an inhuman monster who likes rich pricks /gold plated assets more than Christchurch? That really annoys me.

    * Although I think I dislike the word rebuilding; it's going to be building full stop, especially given how crap the CBD was beforehand.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I'm amazed at how much of the inner-city damage I was unaware of as I walked through it (Colombo St by Cashel mall through to the Square and then up Worcester to the botanic gardens). One of the kids I was walking with had bare feet so I was concentrating on keeping his every step glass-free.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Emma Hart,

    One of the things I am finding really hard, looking at photos, is not being able to figure out where things are. I'm so used to being able to glance at a photo of the central city and know exactly where it is, and I've lost all my landmarks.

    Which as why, as much as I want to see you all as soon as possible, I am also dreading it.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Just popping back after going through that photo-set to plug it again, it's extraordinary. So much I hadn't previously seen. Megan, this is Victoria Square, but you can't see Vicky herself, unfortunately.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Napier picked up the previous decades architecture style.

    This is constantly stated, but I don’t think that is actually what happened. Napier was rebuilt all at once in the quickest and cheapest way possible that didn’t use heavy masonry of the type that has proved (again) it’s lethality in Christchurch. No one noticed it was “Art Deco” or even worth preserving until the 1980’s

    (/rant/ In fact, Art Deco has become a death sentence for any heritage building in Napier that pre-dates the 1931 earthquake. These building, especially in previously lovely seaside suburbs like Ahuriri and West Shore, have been bowled over and replaced with modern "Art Deco-ish" pastiches in acts of cultural Philistinism that is scarcely credible in a modern city /rant over/)

    People argue Napier isn’t even really Art Deco, but whatever it is – and here might perhaps be a lesson for rebuilding Christchurch – is it is a coherent style that when viewed collectively is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Isn't anyone thinking of the boy-racers? Where will they drive now?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It seems that unless something really stupid happens (always possible) that what is built anew will be safe.

    Here's hoping that recent proposals to 'streamline' NZ's building standards are re-considered in light of this disaster - for example, to make sure sure they address liquefaction.

    Executive officer of the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering, Win Clark, said the problem started with the first clause of the New Zealand Building Code, which worked on the basis that modern one-storey houses needed to be built on good ground. But there was nothing about liquefaction in the code, Clark said. He described those omissions as "oversights".

    "There certainly needs to be a review to identify and highlight these issues."

    Of course there may be an element of

    how one's favourite policy prescriptions are now utterly and exactly what's called for

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Just popping back after going through that photo-set to plug it again, it’s extraordinary. So much I hadn’t previously seen.

    Amazing. Although I'm struggling with the use of the 'like' button in the circumstances. Raises a different level of emotional response which FB isn't necessarily designed for.

    'Dumbstruck' might be more apt.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    Isn’t anyone thinking of the boy-racers? Where will they drive now?

    "Anywhere they like, but the more broken glass, pot holes and sink holes there are, the better," would be the response from many residents of CHC, I suspect.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Emma Hart,

    What Emma said, re affirmative action for people working out of Chch.

    And this:

    Poor people, poor housing, distinct lack of resourcing. A lot of people who were about to get kicked in the crotch by Welfare Reform anyway.

    Is it naive to hope that a pause button has been pressed on that proposal by the horrible coincidence of nature randomly kicking these people in the crotch? And not just a pause button, but a rewind. Indeed, an eject. Taking us back to first principles: inasmuch as we do to the least of our brethren, etc.

    Not to get ahead of ourselves or anything, but: like many an aesthete & utopian I can't help hoping for really positive and beautiful things to come out of the rebuilding process, especially in the visible heritage areas. Old made new, new that looks old (it can be done), brilliant hybrids, safe and gorgeous. The symbolism will be huge.

    But that will be mostly for show if creative rebuilding doesn't start immediately at the other end, too: neighbourhoods constructed around the needs of the neediest. New urbanist principles, mixed-income housing communities, post-oil transport strategies. If a whole street is uninhabitable, make a new one that embraces a mews for bikes and collective cars. Facilitate collective onsite childcare, collaborative cooking. Ensure supermarkets within walking distance of all. Rethink house design that assumes all families are nuclear. Rethink state housing altogether. I'm just randomly brainstorming, really, howling into the dust, but I'm inspired by examples like this and this, and always by this and this.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Napier was rebuilt all at once in the quickest and cheapest way possible

    i've heard this argued about CHCH. people might be 'talking green', but what will decide the day is the cheapest and most effective way to recover and get on with business.

    that might mean that CHCH ends up NZLs greenest city, because Green is oh-so avant-garde.

    OTOH they might end up with the Oaks complex.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Jolisa,

    Is it naive to hope that a pause button has been pressed on that proposal by the horrible coincidence of nature randomly kicking these people in the crotch? And not just a pause button, but a rewind. Indeed, an eject. Taking us back to first principles: inasmuch as we do to the least of our brethren, etc.

    I would vigorously agree, but for the accusation that I may be one of those people whose favourite policy prescriptions...

    (In fact, I'm exactly that person. Una-fucking-pologetically.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    but what will decide the day is the cheapest and most effective way to recover and get on with business.

    Whether it is Royal Crescent in Bath, Napier's CBD or a historic street of untouched state houses in Wellington, over time a preserved set of coherent building can actually come to be perceived as quite attractive.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    If a whole street is uninhabitable, make a new one that embraces a mews for bikes and collective cars.

    I am not familiar with the geology of Christchurch, but if whole suburbs have been substantively destroyed by liquifaction I would have thought now would be a good time to re-locate the whole suburb to a greenfield location with more suitable soil type, if such ground exists.

    The previous site can revert to agricultural land.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Kate Hannah, in reply to Jolisa,

    aesthete and utopian - Oh I agree completely. A new (old) kind of neighbourhood that includes rather than excludes, is not designed as a dormitory for workers but as a locale for living and working. Where all the different ways people contribute to society count, not just the things they get paid for. (small rant: when my father-in-law was out of work last year, he went on every school trip with the grandies. THe teachers LOVED having this engaged intelligent grandparent who would spend his whole time explaining things to the kids - how does the welfare working group even pretend to understand how to value that contribution?).

    I'd like to think that Christchurch can build, and rebuild, and memorialise in a spirit that saw those beautiful (destroyed) churches built orginally - the best materials, designs and people engaged in making something that will live long after they are gone.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2010 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    hmmm... not sure if this story really needs be on front page of herald.co.nz

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The replacement street doesn't have to be in the same place (see also: New Orleans) but yes, point taken.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Kate Hannah,

    Where all the different ways people contribute to society count, not just the things they get paid for. (small rant: when my father-in-law was out of work last year, he went on every school trip with the grandies. The teachers LOVED having this engaged intelligent grandparent who would spend his whole time explaining things to the kids – how does the welfare working group even pretend to understand how to value that contribution?).

    Yes. Precisely. A pause while we all go and re-read Counting for Nothing (with appropriate revisionist nuancing, where necessary, of the old-school gender binary it sprang from) (probably not that much nuancing needed, more's the pity).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

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