STIC Gets First orders for Christchurch Quake Buildings

Structural Timber Innovation Co., set up by key members of the forestry industry to develop engineered construction lumber able to stand up to earthquakes, has won its first two orders for buildings in Christchurch.

The company, whose shareholders include Carter Holt Harvey, Western Australia-based Wesbeam, Sumitomo Forestry, Canterbury and Auckland Universities and Sydney's University of Technology, devised the Expan product range made from multiple layers of thin laminated veneer timber to add strength and flexibility to buildings.

The Christchurch projects add to seven existing buildings using the Expan system in New Zealand and STIC says sales are set to grow as more than 260 companies across Australasia have signed up licenses to use the Expan technology.

A number of commercial enquiries have come from Wellington, according to the company. The capital has more than 200 buildings deemed earthquake-prone by the city council and commercial real estate signs now often include a reassurance that a building is 'seismically compliant'.

Using Expan wood costs about the same as building in steel or concrete for an open-plan, low-medium rise building, the company says. The lightweight material has the extra benefit of being able to be deconstructed and rebuilt on a different site relatively simply, minimizing business interruption, it says.

"Seismic qualities are what everyone is looking for in this part of the world," says STIC Chief Executive Robert Finch.

The engineered timber could be used for multi-storied buildings up to ten storeys high though Mr. Finch says he recognises Christchurch residents favour a low-rise rebuild of their city.

The company has also fielded enquiries from residential builders who want resistance to seismic activity.

[reprinted courtesy of NZ Logger magazine]

Technology developed by STIC and marketed as 'Expan' will be used in two new buildings in Christchurch