Seminars will promote multi-storey wooden buildings in wake of earthquakes

"Plyscrapers" will be promoted by international speakers visiting New Zealand, advocating the advantages of structural timber in multi-storey high-rise buildings.

A series of seminars will start in Christchurch on Friday to promote the wood buildings, including high-rises.

One of the keynote speakers is Andrew Waugh, of Britain's Waugh Thistleton Architects, which designed the high-rise Stadthaus apartment tower, acclaimed as setting new benchmarks in timber construction for its style and height.


Italian engineer Paolo Lavisci is also visiting. His timber engineering consultancy, Legnopiu, designed houses for thousands of people after the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake.

Wood is seen to be rising in favour after the Christchurch earthquakes.

The seminars have been organised by industry organisation NZ Wood, which said the sessions would look at seismic damage-avoidance engineering, fire performance, acoustic qualities of wood buildings, thermal aspects, comfort and sustainability.

Earlier this year, Connal Townsend, Property Council chief executive, returned from the Green Cities conference in Melbourne where he said an address was given on the prospect of plyscrapers becoming more prevalent, partly in a drive to offset carbon dioxide emissions from concrete.

Plyscrapers have also been cited as standing up better during an earthquake. Most new houses are built on concrete floor pads. High-rise towers have extensive pre-cast concrete panels as floor and wall components.

Michael Green, a partner in the Vancouver firm McFarlane Green Biggar Architectures + Design, told the Melbourne conference of his vision for the world's first timber skyscraper and how a 10-storey plyscraper was proposed in Australia, a 17-storey one in Norway and a 30-storey wood tower in Austria.

Architects Warren and Mahoney will present their vision for the city at the NZ Wood Christchurch seminar.

Robert Finch, chief executive of the Structural Timber Innovation Company, will talk about damage avoidance designs in multi-storey timber buildings.


He cited a building at Canterbury University which he said had endured dozens of simulated earthquakes in the lab, three significant quakes and thousands of aftershocks.

Damage avoidance technology for timber buildings was also used in several new New Zealand buildings.

NZ Wood seminar programme.

Friday, 10.30am-2.30pm: Addington Racecourse, Christchurch.

Monday, 10.30am-2.30pm: Otago Museum, Dunedin.

Tuesday, 12.30pm-4.30pm: Trailways Hotel, Nelson.


Wednesday, noon-4pm: Wellington Town Hall.

Thursday, 12.30pm-4.30pm: Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland.