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Character strengths

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Designed to survive a major seismic event and the first hospital to achieve the coveted 4-Star Green Star certification, Forté Health is one of New Zealand's safest and greenest medical buildings

Character strengths

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In a city brought to its knees by the savage earthquake of February 2011, the emphasis on new builds is naturally to prevent such a tragic loss of life ever happening again. Rising from the rubble, a new breed of architecture looks set to roll with the punches in any similar event.

With the loss of a number of Christchurch's existing medical facilities by the earthquake, a new hospital and consulting rooms were required. Wilson & Hill Architects was asked to build a centre to meet these needs, says director David Hill.

"Forté Health has labs, radiology consulting rooms, wards and operating theatres, as well as a central café under a light well that penetrates the structure. However it's the ability to stand up to seismic events that really sets this building apart.

"The three-storey building has been designed to ‘Importance Level 4'. This means it's intended to withstand a 1 in 2500-year earthquake and to remain operational after a 1 in 500-year event."

The seismic design, by specialist firm Engenium, features a post-tensioned steel Seismic Structural System with external dampers. Internal workings are celebrated, with translucent facade panels revealing the lit-up forms at night. Some internal windows also look onto these potentially life-saving mechanisms. The facade is constructed to move safely along with the building.

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Further Importance Level 4 provisions are a generator for emergency power supply, tanks for potable water, and emergency sewer provision.

Forté Health is also a model of sustainable design, achieving the enviable 4-Star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council, says Hill.

"Features include low-e, high performance double glazing, a steel structure with recyclable content and efficient air conditioning systems such as chillers and VRV heatpumps. Covered bicycle parking, integrated waste management systems and energy-efficient lighting are also provided."

First published date: 02 April 2014

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