The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
November 4, 2009

Strengthening

A welcome to those of you new visitors who may have visited the Eye of the Fish site since the talk at the City Gallery today. The EoTF is a site set up as a forum to discuss city matters (in Wellington) generally, and Urban matters and Design in particular. Feel free to comment on line any time – yes, it can be anonymous if you’re shy.
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It was actually quite a big day for Wellington, despite it being a grey and windy day. OK: howling gales, if you prefer. But apart from the lunchtime talk (of which Philip may post some updates later) chaired by the debonair Mr Tom Beard, there was also an announcement this morning on the winners of the Outer Tee competition. There is some full commentary over on the Arch Centre website – click here for more info – but it is really great news that WWL has picked some winning schemes to be worked up further. The translation of that seems to me to be: “we don’t have one clear winner, but we have a lot of great ideas and at last we have a strong point to work from.”

The submission time for the Manners Mall has just closed, and I have a suspicion that the Council will have been swamped with submissions both for and against it. The next big submission requests are for Wellington 2040 (now extended till the end of November), as well as submissions on Thorndon and Newlands due today ? – and soon the whole city with both Plan Change 73: Suburban Centres and Plan Change 72: Residential. Today, of course, it is just time for some Fire Works!
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But in the mean time of course there is one other major ghoul stalking our streets: that of the Earthquake Strengthening project. So far, no one seems to be making much of a big deal out of it, but a recent development could see some action – not always in a good way.

Council have started issuing notices to people with unsafe buildings, requiring them to be upgraded or else demolished. Not much of a choice really, especially if you have a Heritage building. There’s always two sides to any story: why would anyone want to insist on retaining their building if it is an earthquake risk (all that death and destruction is sooo last century), and on the other hand, how can you afford to renovate and make it quake safe if the Council grants for upgrading are so small?

The cut off points for upgrading are reasonably clear: if your building is new, it will meet the current code and therefore can withstand a decent shake. But if, on the other hand, your building is old, it will only meet a certain percentage of the current code.
If it is above 66% of the current code, you should be OK.
If below 66% but above 33% then you’re in a grey zone, and need a clever engineer to help you. May as well get a clever architect at the same time, because you’ve got some renovations coming!
If below 33% then your building is an earthquake risk and needs to be demolished or strengthened, relatively immediately. You may have already had a notice served upon you. The buildings most at risk are those of unreinforced brick masonry, whereby in a big jolt, the bricks will revert to their natural format of rubble and dried mud: and you’ll go out with a big bang. But then you knew that already, didn’t you?
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Alan
5 - 11 - 09

You may be interested in this recent report from the Dominion:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3000700/42m-to-prepare-for-the-big-one

“The city council is working its way through a list of about 3800 properties identified as being potentially unstable in a moderate earthquake. So far, 136 properties, including 21 heritage buildings, have been confirmed as vulnerable, while about 1000 others have been given the all-clear…. ….The new list reflects the more stringent standards introduced with the 2004 Building Act, which says a building has to meet 33 per cent of the current seismic loading standard for a new building.

“The council began work to identify earthquake-vulnerable buildings in mid-2006, but stopped issuing notices while it reviewed its buildings policy in the past financial year, council building compliance manager Steve Cody said. Work had since restarted, but there was a backlog of notices to be issued. It would take about three more years to get through all 3800 properties, he said.

“The policy was completed in July. The main change was a longer time frame for improvement works to be done extended from between five and 15 years to 10-20 years. This reflected the complexity and cost of strengthening work, Mr Cody said. It was also fairer to building owners in the midst of a recession. “It’s no use making it difficult for them to achieve what you want them to achieve.”

Maximus
15 - 11 - 09

Curiously little comment from anyone on this topic, except for you Alan.
This policy is probably going to have the most effect on wellingtonians, and the appearance of their city – but nothing yet?
Ah well, i’m sure the howls of outrage will start once the bulldozers move in….

Maximus
4 - 01 - 10

Curiously little comment from anyone on this topic, except for you Alan.
This policy is probably going to have the most effect on wellingtonians, and the appearance of their city – but nothing yet?
Ah well, i'm sure the howls of outrage will start once the bulldozers move in….