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Christchurch Quake Workshop Extends Chinese, Italian Success.


Office furniture, interior partition walls and electrical circuits may not take the brunt of a building’s load during an earthquake, but the vulnerability of these non-structural elements has resulted in significant economic and human losses in recent quake events.


The question is; how can non-structural elements be designed, integrated and seismically restrained to minimise quake damage in buildings?


The answer will be discussed at the third international SPONSE (Seismic Performance of Non-Structural Elements) workshop hosted by UC Quake Centre in Christchurch on 31 March 2016.


Engineers, architects, insurers and other interested parties from around the world will come together to hear the latest research and discuss improvements to walls and ceilings, buildings’ contents and loss assessment techniques.


Using the Christchurch quakes as an unfolding backdrop, attendees will exchange lessons learned and ideas to update standards and codes, as well as best practice methods of design, construction, analysis and modelling of buildings.


UC Quake Centre is one of the founding members of the SPONSE Association and UC Professor of Structural and Earthquake Engineering, Dr Rajesh Dhakal sits on the Board of Directors.


Dr Finch looks forward to accommodating the visitors and being involved in the development of constructive outcomes. He said, “People tend to forget that the overwhelming majority of the capital cost of most buildings is in the non-structural components and in major seismic events the damage and injury that can be caused by failure or excessive drift of non-structural elements can be very significant indeed. We saw this during the Christchurch 2010-2011 major seismic events and we even saw it during the much lower peak ground acceleration events in Wellington in 2013, which were a result of the Seddon / Cook Strait earthquakes.”


Finch and Dhakal, along with Dr Timothy Sullivan of the University of Pavia, Italy, and Greg Preston of the UC Quake Centre make up the Organising Committee for the upcoming SPONSE workshop – developing the technical programme and inviting speakers.


The long-term intention is to operate a SPONSE New Zealand branch out of UC Quake Centre.


SPONSE is an international, non-profit, technical society which aims to contribute to the improvement of communities’ resilience to earthquakes. Through membership, education and promotion/distribution of research findings, it brings together industry, academia and anyone interested in the seismic performance of non-structural elements.  Their workshops focus on promoting communication and facilitating synergy between international researchers working in the non-structural element area.


The first workshop, in 2014, was held at the Institute of Engineering Mechanics, China Earthquake Administration in Harbin, China. It resulted in the creation of the SPONSE Association with an elected Board of Directors and provision for accepting members.


One year later, the second workshop took place at the European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering (EUCENTRE) in Pavia, Italy. It featured 13 speakers who drew insights into various non-structural elements topics; from shake table tests of ceiling performance, to a simulation of piping systems.


It was during the Italian workshop that Quake Centre’s Dr Finch put his hand up to suggest Christchurch as the next location and it was unanimously agreed upon by the Board as both a relevant and timely host city.


The Christchurch workshop programme will introduce an exciting line-up of internatonal and local speakers, including a presentation from SPONSE President, Andre Filiatrault. To mark a change from the previous two workshops, this one will also include a session of industry practitioners revealing insights and lessons learned from the perspectives of architects, engineers and contractors in the NZ building sector.


It also coincides with the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE)’s conference and a special UC workshop entitled Earthquakes, Injury Risk and Building Safety.


It is intended that through the networking of participants, research into the relatively undeveloped field of non-structural elements will be furthered and result in new initiatives to improve the performance of building contents, architectural and mechanical components during an earthquake.


Click here to register for the 2016 Workshop on Thursday 31 March.


Click here to see the programme and speaker abstracts for this year's event.












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