What is a seismic assessment and why are they important?
Speaking to Atheel on his experience, he said the industry has seen developments in terms of an improved relationship in how the building materials work together, improving the dissipation of seismic forces caused by earthquakes and the like.
Originally from Iraq, Atheel moved to England to further his education before making the move to New Zealand (NZ), a decision he said was because of the challenge of construction in a country with high seismic activity.
“It’s challenging you get new situations all the time here. NZ is more challenging because of the seismic activity. Turkey, Italy and Croatia follow closely behind but the code has been well developed in NZ to deal with that. In NZ you design for it,” He said.
“With the bridges, a challenging aspect is getting the information, doing the model, making the engineering judgements, getting information from the geo tech investigation.”
The purpose of seismic assessments is to make sure buildings and other constructions are up to building code standard and will be capable of withstanding the loads put on them from earthquakes. Seismic assessments involve reviewing existing drawings and material, adding in any missing information through site visits and information from historic properties of the same era, followed by the construction of a full model.
The model consists of all the information from the geotechnical investigation and information he has collected. Once the model has been analysed, it is compared to the building codes.
Atheel said he enjoys his work and takes great responsibility in making sure his job is done to the highest standard, “It’s not a risky business, but it’s a risk from the point of view that it is related to people and safety. Any problem that goes wrong can be catastrophic.”
Rather than just completing assessments, Atheel says the industry is changing and he is spending more time designing buildings. He said the industry can be underestimated in terms of importance and people need to be careful about cutting corners to save money.
“You end up with problems and we’ve seen that in some of the buildings in Christchurch. They don’t think of the long term effects.”
“People under-estimate to save on the cost of construction. They don’t think of the long term. People often say we haven’t had it for 100 years why should we? But we might have it tomorrow. In Christchurch they hadn’t had it for thousands of years, now they have high seismic shaking.”