Creative Arts and Industries


Seismic Design Masters Class

The Master of Architecture (Professional) Seismic Design class, co-taught by Senior Lecturer John Chapman and Associate Professor Uwe Rieger, is considering new technologies and schools of thought in architectural design that have arisen as part of the Christchurch rebuild.

Embedded in the Studio Christchurch programme, the class is researching the latest technologies and how they can be applied, as well as utilising a new aesthetic development that incorporates technology. In response to environmental challenges of the 21st century, students are following a performance-driven design approach to architecture. This includes consideration of a building’s energy performance, its environmental comfort, durability and seismic safety.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of inquiry into building failures in Christchurch recommended that architects and engineers collaborate at a much earlier stage in the design process. They argue that if architects have a stronger understanding of the engineering requirements of a building, they can incorporate it into their designs as an architectural element.

Chapman, an engineer, and Rieger, an architect, have responded by asking students to explore design opportunities and aesthetics that could be developed using this approach in a Christchurch of 2061. Students are required to utilise model building and tools such as the ‘shake table’ to evaluate how each design performs, which in turn determines the final architectural form.

The class works closely with the University’s postgraduate engineering students, and also undertook a class tour of various construction sites in Christchurch in early 2014.  Students were hosted by engineering firm Aurecon and various architectural firms and worked in collaboration with the University of Canterbury Quake Centre to look at the current rebuilding approach in the city.

It is hoped that the students’ final work will form an exhibition to be shown in Auckland and Christchurch, and will add fuel to the debate on how to rebuild a modern city.
Studio Christchurch at the University of Auckland