Project ethos : aesthetic refinement of Pres-Lam structure

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O’Brien, Liam
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Murphy, Chris
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Arts and Media Building (Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology)
Carterton Events Centre (Carterton, N.Z.)
Pres-Lam system
prestressed laminated timber building systems
Kaiapoi (N.Z.)
construction technology
Christchurch 2010-2011 earthquakes
mixed use building types
O'Brien, L. (2016). Project ethos : aesthetic refinement of Pres-Lam structure. An unpublished explanatory document submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of, Master of Architecture (Professional), Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
The Pres-Lam structural system has been applied in a mere few buildings currently, fewer still express the structural system in any meaningful way. If this relatively new system is to be more widely acknowledged and revered, we must explore ways in which a built example may effectively communicate the structural actions of the system as well as express the safety its inhabitants would be granted with regards to seismic activity and post-disaster habitability. It is this industry attitude towards structural expression, specifically in that of Pres-Lam, that is expressed in the working title, Project Ethos. Analysis of the structural function of Pres-Lam reveals the most feasible aspects of the system for expression to the user. Rocking and re-centering motion of the engineered timber shear walls are made possible by the internal post-tensioning cables as well as external mild steel dissipaters that may be replaced after acting sacrificially in a seismic event. Further to this, historical influence is taken from the architectural styles of High-Tech Architecture as well as Deconstructivism. The first two mid-rise buildings in New Zealand to explore this system in a wider sense give precedence for the attitudes taken towards the structural expression of Pres-lam. The first example, NMIT’s Arts and Media building, shows a level of internal structural expression aimed at communicating the raw detailing technicalities to industry professionals, while the second example, the Carterton Events Centre, makes critical use of Pres-Lam to ensure post-disaster habitability but makes little attempt to express the structural system in any meaningful way. This designed outcome proposes a multi-use mid-rise building in the earthquake affected town of Kaiapoi, and explores various methods of direct as well as indirect expression of the Pres-Lam structural system in order to communicate the inherent structural actions while imparting an aura of safety to the users.
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