Putting safety first

Scientists, engineers and designers are developing new building systems and structures for earthquake prone regions. One of the most successful uses cold-formed steel framing. Compared with traditional masonry and timber framing, lightweight steel frame homes can be much safer during a seismic event. 

Modern cold formed steel framing design and construction techniques are widely acknowledged as safer and more cost-effective in earthquake zones. Being lightweight, frames flex during an earthquake and absorb lateral movement without compromising the structural integrity of the building. Approximately 40 countries in the world have high seismic regions, where reinforced concrete and masonry are the traditional materials of choice for housing and other building construction.

Immediate response

The shallow earthquake that struck northern Pakistan in October 2005 was one of the most devastating ever recorded. According to New Zealand based FRAMECAD building consultant, Glen Tasker: “I received a phone call here in the middle of the night from a government minister in Pakistan seeking our urgent assistance.”

“We had sold FRAMECAD equipment to a company in Pakistan, Metecno, and trained their people in the operation of the machinery and cold steel frame construction techniques. The company had been using our technology successfully for about a year or so when the earthquake struck. Fortunately, we had a technician on site in Pakistan, and after discussing the situation with him, we developed plans for a fast track barracks-style building.

“It was the most practical solution to an urgent problem to get some facilities up and running as quickly and simply as possible. I sent the plans the next day and they immediately went ahead and built quite a number of these units in a very short space of time.” Using the FRAMECAD system, Metecno later developed a simple, fast-build 36 sq metre steel framed house which could be constructed in large numbers quickly and economically.

“The FRAMECAD system was ideally suited because it’s simple, economical, quick, and most importantly, homes can be designed and engineered for earthquake conditions providing greater protection and safety should another seismic event occur.”

Features and benefits 

  • Testing shows steel framing withstands earthquakes of up to force 9
  • FRAMECAD is the ideal choice for disaster relief housing as the Mobile Factory can be sent in a modified 20ft-shipping container, deployed where there is little or no factory set up, and operational within 24 hours
  • FRAMECAD System speed enables production of disaster relief housing when need is greatest.

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