UC designed flooring system has huge potential

11 August 2014

A building soon to be constructed in Nelson will be the first in the world using a new timber flooring system designed by UC structural engineering experts.

UC designed flooring system has huge potential

Dr Alessandro Palermo

A building soon to be constructed in Nelson will be the first in the world using a new timber flooring system designed by University of Canterbury structural engineering experts in collaboration with Gibbons Construction Ltd will have huge potential benefits for the Christchurch rebuild and for the whole country.

The new university-designed flooring system, pre-stressed prefabricated panel in timber (3PT), consists of a combination of structural materials offering light engineered timber, cost-effective concrete anchorage and high strength pre-stressed or post-tensioned reinforcement. 

The new design was conceived in 2010 during a conference in Nelson with world experts in timber engineering research and was invented by the University of Canterbury’s Dr Alessandro Palermo and Professor Stefano Pampanin.

The idea has shown proved to have huge commercial potential and Kiwinet, the Kiwi Innovation Network consortium of universities and crown entities, has funded the University of Canterbury project with a grant of more than $800,000. 

"What makes this flooring system unique is the concrete anchorage and the connectors. Prefabrication and pre-stressing are key aspects that make the product novel. The cost-effectiveness of the flooring system is it can be pre-stressed by using the same facilities used for pre-stressed concrete flooring systems,’’ Dr Palermo says.

"A lighter flooring system means less seismic forces involved during earthquakes. The flooring system has huge potential for Christchurch as designs are seeking to reduce the stresses in soil therefore minimise the foundation costs of buildings that can be quite considerable.’’

Professor Pampanin says a building in Nelson will shortly install the flooring system and several prototypes have already been tested and performed much better than traditional timber flooring systems.

"Often technology breakthroughs occur through a combination and cross-pollination of disciplines and knowledge. This flooring system intends to combine and exploit the complementary features of traditional as well as established materials such as concrete, timber and steel.

"It also includes manufacturing processes, prefabrication and cast-in-situ, pre-stressing, post-tensioning and assembly of engineered wood elements,” Professor Pampanin says.

"With the help of industry partners we  hope this pre-stressed timber-concrete flooring system will soon become a widely adopted and well established, high-performance, cost-effective and exciting  alternative solution in the Christchurch rebuild and throughout New Zealand,”  he says.

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications 
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168
kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz

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