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    Grand Designs ‘Earthquake Rebuild’ survives ultimate test hours after screening

    Nathan Johnson

    An earthquake-resistant Australian modular construction system was put to the ultimate test last week and by all reports has come out unscathed.

    ‘Earthquake Rebuild’ by Litegreen Projects was the featured house on the final episode of Grand Designs New Zealand Season Two, Episode 8 which screened 8:30pm on 13 November, mere hours before the country was hit by a series of earthquakes.

    The project used a structural insulated panelling system manufactured in Melbourne by Australian modular construction outfit, Habitech and replaced a structurally-unsound cottage built on a destabilised sand dune in South New Brighton, Christchurch.

    As the name suggests, it was built to withstand future earthquakes, but even the owners didn’t expect its performance to be tested so soon after it was complete.  A 7.8 magnitude quake hit Christchurch just after midnight on 14 November putting ‘Earthquake Rebuild’ to the ultimate test less than five hours after it was broadcasted across the nation.

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    The house under construction using Habitech’s roof and exterior wall SIPs 

    The building’s survival, says Habitech, is owed to the bracing strength of its lightweight wall panel system, which provides five times the bracing strength of traditional stud framing, but the house was also shored-up by strong LVL beams and a hundred timber piles which were drilled into the sand dune below to spread load and potential vibrations.

    Litegreen has experimented with SIPs systems for various projects in the Christchurch, including a TC3 property on the boundary of a Red Zone which is a high indicator for potential earthquake danger. 

    Reports from Habitech are that Earthquake Rebuild has survived without a scratch. 

    Images: Grand Designs

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