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EXPAN Building ‘The safest place on Campus’

The EXPAN building on the University of Canterbury campus has endured not only dozens of simulated earthquakes in the lab, but three significant quakes and the over seven thousand aftershocks that have since rocked the city of Christchurch. When 23 December 2011 Christchurch earthquakes hit, Nikki at EXPAN was there in the office, “when I felt the shake I thought I need to get out and then I remembered where I was and felt a whole lot safer”.

Nikki works with Robert Finch, STIC CEO, “EXPAN is one of those things that come along and you think – yes ! – it makes so much sense.  Then you start thinking about the opportunities that you have with it …”

Originally developed as a protoype for testing, the EXPAN building now settled on the grounds of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, is a stunning testament to what can be done simply and effectively using EXPAN Structural Timber Solutions.

At only 2/3 scale, some adjustment had to be made to take the building out of the lab and into the real world, where it now acts as an office for Structural Timber Innovation Company and has become a showcase that is attracting engineers, architects, owners and developers.

Designed by leading local architect Thom Craig, from the test building that had been put through the ringer in the university testing facilities, the finished building is at once simple and spacious, with the construction proudly on display for all to see.

Architect Thom Craig is enthusiastic about EXPAN and recently took the technology to the world stage when he used it as part of his entry for a competition in Japan.

“There is now a lot more innovation and use of timber in contemporary, cutting-edge architecture. Timber provides not only the supporting tectonics of structures, but also the potential to play with it as covering ‘skins’. Computerisation and emerging technologies coupled with creative innovation has helped to position this natural resource as an important player in the structural, cladding and decorative markets.”

Mr Craig says the Canterbury earthquake has made all sectors of the community re-define their thinking about what forms the various parts of ‘enclosing’ structures in a more heightened and focused way.

“A lot of people are now looking to a wider range of different technologies more carefully and, of course, timber is one of those technologies.”

More information can be found about all these buildings at the links below:

General information about STIC and EXPAN systems
NMIT Arts and Media Building (NZ Wood website case study)
NMIT Arts and Media Building (EXPAN Website)
STIC Offices (EXPAN Website)
TUMU ITM Depot (EXPAN Website)