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shaken not stirred

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Advanced seismic damping ensures the Forté Health building will bounce back in an earthquake – Alan Reay Consultants undertook the structural design

shaken not stirred


The new Forté Health complex has achieved several firsts, but perhaps the most arresting of these is the structural frame designed to roll with the waves in a seismic event.

Alan Reay Consultants undertook the structural design of Forté Health, together with design of the associated civil works, and the temporary works design, says structural engineer Doug Latham.

"We also acted as engineer to the contract for the base-build and ground floor fit-out. However, it's the radical makeup of the frame that's a leap forward for New Zealand safe building design.

"The structure uses an innovative steel Prefabricated Seismic Structural System (PRESSS) with advanced seismic damping," says Latham. "Designed in conjunction with the University of Canterbury, the steel brace frames are intended to rock during a major earthquake to minimise any damage, with post-tensioned rods pulling the building back straight.

"Two types of replaceable dampers are used in combination to absorb the energy of a quake. These include yielding steel rods and lead extrusion devices developed at the University of Canterbury."


This is the first application of steel PRESSS technology in New Zealand. The use of two types of dampers in combination was also unique to this project – together making this a world first. Every earthquake is different, and the two dampers working together provide enhanced performance across a range of possible types of earthquake motions, Latham says.

In addition, Forté Health is built on 168 steel piles that reach 24m down to the Riccarton gravels.

For details, contact Alan Reay Consultants, phone +64 3 366 0434.

First published date: 31 March 2014

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