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7-Story Wooden Condo Survives 7.5 Magnitude Quake

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the this-is-awesome dept.

Earth 146

Mike writes "Earthquake news abounds as of late — recently a team of researchers from five universities unveiled an seven-story earthquake-proof wooden building that is capable of withstanding severe earthquakes. Featuring a structurally efficient nail distribution and a 63 anchor tie down system, the wooden condominium survived a test using an E-Defense shake table, which simulated a 7.5 magnitude quake (check out the video!)"

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146 comments

that's why (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28758745)

and that's why I bought a Saturn.

Lasts? (4, Interesting)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 5 years ago | (#28758759)

The question is- does it last in such a way that you just keep living like nothing happened after the quake? or.. lasts, as in, doesn't kill everybody in and around the building, but you probably want a new one if it goes through an earthquake even once..

the purpose is to survive not to last. (5, Interesting)

Brigadier (12956) | about 5 years ago | (#28758951)

Believe it or not current structural code functions to provide surviveability for it's occupants. I'm an architect in southern california and prior to 1997 buildings were designed to basically allow occupants to escape, however due to the financial toll of northridge the structural code was revamped to prevent flexing which would result in the building not having sever cosmetic damage. This however resulted in drastically increased construction costs. The fact is you want a building that will flex as opposed to break. It always cracks me up because there is a war between wood mfgs and steel mfgs. Currently your typical stick framed building stops at three stories (in southern california) after this you need to switch to steel or concrete. Manufactureres like simpson strong tie are working hard to push the limit of wood to allow them a greater market share.

Re:Lasts? (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | about 5 years ago | (#28759039)

The general idea is to have the building _not_ collapse on top of you.

As a lifetime resident of Los Angeles that's experienced all of the big quakes back to the 1970's, I've been in stick construction houses for all of the quakes and didn't even experience a broken window. They shake like crazy and it's loud as hell in the big ones, but the stick design is very flexible.

The older homes here 1930's have foundation problems more than anything else in the big ones. They tend to be lathe/plaster walls, but still stick-style construction. I don't know what's different about those. There are *very* few if any of the really old adobe-style houses left. Not because of earthquakes though.

Re:Lasts? (1)

value_added (719364) | about 5 years ago | (#28759733)

The older homes here 1930's have foundation problems more than anything else in the big ones. They tend to be lathe/plaster walls, but still stick-style construction.

That would include my favourite, older buildings using stick-style construction with brick exteriors.

Re:Lasts? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 years ago | (#28759099)

From watching the movie, it remained in one piece, with no visible change. Maybe there was structural damage, but the article didn't mention it. It looked like it was shaking a bit, so if it'd had sheetrock, the sheetrock might have become cracked. If there were books on shelves, the books likely would have fallen off.

Also, check out the movie, if you've ever lived through an earthquake, it looks just like a real one feels, not sharp shaking back and forth, but gentle moving in seeming random directions. And the platform is moving a million pound structure.

Also, I have been all over the world, but the poor countries I have been to mainly use concrete as a construction material, not wood, even for smaller buildings. I'm not sure this is so useful for poor countries, but for me living in California in a wood house, I am happy to hear of any new advances in earthquake proofing a house.

Re:Lasts? (2, Funny)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 5 years ago | (#28759611)

Yeah, why would you make this kind of technology on such shaky grounds anyway?

What about fire? (2, Funny)

gapagos (1264716) | about 5 years ago | (#28758775)

Would it survive fire?

high building standards (2, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 5 years ago | (#28758859)

How about a tornado, earthquake, and fire at the same time?

When 2012 comes will it protect me from the hordes of flesh eating locusts?

Re:high building standards (1)

Tickety-boo (1206428) | about 5 years ago | (#28759431)

This may sound facetious, but I had a similar question the first time I saw a large Sodium-sulfide (NaS) battery. It was the size of a garden shed, and basically was filled with molten sodium. The engineers said that it was safe from thunderstorms, tornadoes, tree falls, and earthquakes. My first question was "it is safe from two or three of those if they happen at the same time?"

A now very pale engineer answered "no". I guess they hadn't considered a tree falling on it in the rain, and we all know how much fun sodium is when it gets wet...

Re:high building standards (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 5 years ago | (#28762511)

...we all know how much fun sodium is when it gets wet...

I suppose you make sure your table salt doesn't get wet either, eh? It's got the same chemical structure and behaves similarly to sodiumsulfide because they are both salts. Wet NaS is no more going to have a violent chemical reaction with water than NaCl (aka table salt) will.

Now, what might be a danger would be the incredibly massive transfer of thermal energy from the molten NaS to water, probably creating a super-heated steam almost instantly. I could see the area around a NaS battery becoming quite dangerous if rainwater made it past the casing, 500 degree water vapor is dangerous shit. It's still not a sodium/water explosion though.

Re:high building standards (2, Funny)

mcrbids (148650) | about 5 years ago | (#28759705)

How about a tornado, earthquake, and fire at the same time?

What, did you get bored playing Sim-City? ('cept you forgot the alien attack!?)

Re:What about fire? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 5 years ago | (#28758863)

Good point. Would the Gas piping also survive? If not, the fire would probably kill it.

Also, Would it make sense to have the sprinkler system go off in the case of an earthquake? Or would that be just as likely destroyed as the natural Gase pipes?

Re:What about fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28760899)

In earthquake prone areas, all buildings are fitted with automatic shut-off valves which cut the gas supply outside the building in case of shaking. The procedure is to then inspect the building before resetting this safety valve.

Re:What about fire? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 5 years ago | (#28762805)

Then why are there still fires associated with Earthquakes? Or was the regulation put into place after the Nothridge earthquake?

Re:What about fire? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 years ago | (#28763021)

Then why are there still fires associated with Earthquakes?

Let's say that you and your MOTAS are having a romantic candlelight dinner when the earthquake hits. All it takes is one of the candles falling on the right spot and you've got an earthquake-caused fire even if it's an all-electric home. Or, if you prefer, you're making fish and chips and the quake spills the grease from the fryer onto a hot burner. There are lots of ways to start a fire during an earthquake even if the gas (if you have it) turns off. And, of course, there's always the gas inside the pipes that can get out even after the shutoff valve activates.

Re:What about fire? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about 5 years ago | (#28758921)

This is a good question, especially since fires and earthquakes tend to go hand-in-hand. I certainly hope they don't use gas in these buildings.

Re:What about fire? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28758935)

Duh, haven't you ever heard of asbestos?

Re:What about fire? (2, Informative)

sammyF70 (1154563) | about 5 years ago | (#28759389)

It doesn't make a difference, does it? I mean : your standard steel or concrete house will burn as well as a wooden one, unless it's completely empty of any inflammable materials (and even then, I'm not sure it would be structurally okay once the flames are out).

I'm living in a wooden house (although it's only 2 stories high), and we had an approximately 1minute long 7.4 earthquake slightly over a year ago (just two months after being visited by a hurricane actually). From what my sister in law who was in it at the time tells me, the house shook like hell. After the quake, it was structurally intact. All the concrete houses I saw afterward on the island, on the other hand, had extra aeration where the walls had split, most had internal water leakage (that's what you get for having the water conduits in the walls) and at least 2 had to be destroyed and rebuilt completely.

To be fair, I should note that our wooden house fared way worse than the concrete ones during the hurricane (mostly the roof that was swept away, as it was designed to)

Re:What about fire? (1)

value_added (719364) | about 5 years ago | (#28759861)

your standard steel or concrete house will burn as well as a wooden one, unless it's completely empty of any inflammable materials

Oddly enough (and assuming you meant to write "flammable" instead of "inflammable"), straw houses [wikipedia.org] which are traditional post and beam construction with infill, are very fire resistant.

Re:What about fire? (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | about 5 years ago | (#28759939)

yes. sorry. that's what I meant :)

Re:What about fire? (3, Informative)

srussia (884021) | about 5 years ago | (#28760085)

Oddly enough (and assuming you meant to write "flammable" instead of "inflammable")...

Oddly enough, "flammable" and "inflammable" mean the same thing.

Re:What about fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28760465)

Yeah, but he meant to say flammable instead of inflammable.

Re:What about fire? (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | about 5 years ago | (#28760597)

maybe "he" is not a native english speaker and just used the french word, which incidentally exists in english too?

Re:What about fire? (1)

kalirion (728907) | about 5 years ago | (#28762495)

What a country!

Re:What about fire? (1)

srussia (884021) | about 5 years ago | (#28762655)

What a country!

My nick ain't "srussia" for nothin'!

Re:What about fire? (1)

lgw (121541) | about 5 years ago | (#28761419)

"Flammable" is a silly word (although I'm sure it's crept into dictionaries by now). "Inflammable" means "likely to burst into flame". Because this confused the illiterate, people wisely started using "flammable" on warning signs, and now it's as common as "ain't". "Inflammable" remains the better word.

Re:What about fire? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#28761681)

They kinda mean the same thing though...
Dr. Nick: What a country!

Re:What about fire? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 years ago | (#28763083)

Oddly enough (and assuming you meant to write "flammable" instead of "inflammable"),

Why? Inflammable [reference.com] means easily set on fire, not fireproof. "Flammable" is a neologism created by people who clearly made the same wrong (but reasonable) assumption that you just did.

fire is no problem (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 5 years ago | (#28760707)

Wood is inflammable!

Re:What about fire? (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about 5 years ago | (#28760889)

What about the big bad wolf?

Re:What about fire? (1)

RichiH (749257) | about 5 years ago | (#28761069)

Generally speaking, a properly impregnated wooden house will last longer than a concrete one. An even the ones which were not impregnated will still have the large beam structure standing after burning down. That is because the outer wood burns, becomes coal and does not let enough oxygen to the wood so it can continue to burn.

uh, wow? (1)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#28758811)

Am I the only one that didn't find that earthquake video very impressive? I would hope any building would survive that. Looks like a very tame earthquake.

Also it was really light... no siding, no SHINGLES, no furniture, probably no plumbing. NOT impressed.

Re:uh, wow? (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | about 5 years ago | (#28759113)

This is actually very old news. I live in Earthquake city, USA, so most houses here are wooden, so they can twist (and businesses are usually in buildings set on rollers). I talked to a guy from Israel, asking what the buildings were like there (If they had a more US or European way to decorating an interior) and he said "Well, first, there's no wood. It's concrete. We're not afraid of earthquakes hitting our houses, we're afraid of rockets hitting them."

Re:uh, wow? (2, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about 5 years ago | (#28759141)

"Also it was really light... no siding, no SHINGLES, no furniture, probably no plumbing. NOT impressed."

You want impressive? Try this video [youtube.com] . Skip to 4:35 if you wanna see the dining room.

Re:uh, wow? (2, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about 5 years ago | (#28759221)

Here's another link of a dining room [popularmechanics.com] , but this time it's for the wooden building in the article. Last post was a link for a different building test.

Re:uh, wow? (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about 5 years ago | (#28759179)

Am I the only one that didn't find that earthquake video very impressive? I would hope any building would survive that. Looks like a very tame earthquake.

Also it was really light... no siding, no SHINGLES, no furniture, probably no plumbing. NOT impressed.

It does look weak, but I have participated in quake testing and real earthquakes. You can really feel the motion on the roof. And that "unimpressive motion" is pretty dramatic when you are in the 4th floor of building and you have to sit there and wait to see what happens while everything gets shaken off your desk and wall.

But I agree that siding and shingles might change the loading a bit. But remember, this is research. They are just proving a concept.

Re:uh, wow? (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#28759287)

Also it was really light... no siding, no SHINGLES, no furniture, probably no plumbing. NOT impressed.

Yeah, they could have made it much cooler with computer generated graphics, instead they probably blew their whole production budget on the world's largest shake table, a million pounds of wood, and a huge team of highly trained Japanese scientists and engineers. If nothing else, it needs more fire, and way more Godzilla. Two thumbs down!

(I love slashdot).

Re:uh, wow? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#28760013)

So a magnitude 7.5 [wikipedia.org] sounds like a tame earthquake to you? And you figure it should be simple to make a wood building that survives such an earthquake, especially without siding or furniture?

I'm not very impressed with you.

Re:uh, wow? (1)

thoughtfulbloke (1091595) | about 5 years ago | (#28761049)

Every building in New Zealand, regardless of construction, survived last weeks 7.8 earthquake. Close to the epicentre a few objects fell off shelves. Basically, there can be a wide a difference between the strength of the earthquake and the damage it causes because of local situations, so 7.8 can be tame.

Re:uh, wow? (1)

varkk (1366053) | about 5 years ago | (#28762643)

There was only minimal damage because the earthquake was centred over 100km away from the nearest town. Geologists also said that the quake occurred in an area of 'soft' rocks which helped dissipate a lot of the energy before it reached any buildings. If it had happened closer to civilisation then we would be looking at a lot more damage.

Re:uh, wow? (1)

Quikah (14419) | about 5 years ago | (#28762647)

There were buildings close to the epicenter? Looked like it was in the middle of nowhere to me.

Re:uh, wow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28760857)

Sure it looks small, it does occur to you that this is 7 stories, right? So, basically, if this was a normal sized house, those jolts would be moving it's floor higher than it's roof in under a second. This is, actually, very impressive.

Re:uh, wow? (1)

StaticEngine (135635) | about 5 years ago | (#28762965)

Watch the video from inside the building. The earthquake doesn't look that impressive in the outside video because of the scale, and our lack of our ability to sense that properly. However, after viewing the inside video, I can say there's no way I'd want to go through that kind of quake.

Sensationalist headline (3, Insightful)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | about 5 years ago | (#28758815)

Simulations are nice and all, but it's a bit inaccurate to say it "survived a 7.5 magnitude quake" when it didn't actually.

Also, adding in 63 steel rods seems to defeat the purpose of calling it a "wooden building".

cheaters never prosper (4, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 5 years ago | (#28758895)

Yea those cheaters, I bet they didn't use wooden nails either!

Re:cheaters never prosper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28761231)

They're called pegs.

Re:Sensationalist headline (2, Insightful)

Brigadier (12956) | about 5 years ago | (#28759435)

the whole purpose of something like this is to justify wood as a acceptable material for 3 or more stories (well in california) by doing this they increase the market share of wood. See simpson strong tie.... truth is this was an empty home with no realistic live loads. ie file cabinets couches TV etc. You also have to add dead loads like windows, doors finishes etc.

Re:Sensationalist headline (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#28761875)

Most building designs are never tested this way at all - think they just plug some numbers into some equations, multiply everything by 5 or 10, and build it. Couches and TVs don't enter into it.

Re:Sensationalist headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28760491)

DRTFA, but more significant from the pictures was the structure was completely unloaded. No windows, no dummy loads for occupants and possessions, presumably no millwork or plumbing. Unless plastic wouldn't the latter blow apart under the flexing shown anyway?

Re:Sensationalist headline (2, Informative)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | about 5 years ago | (#28760529)

Simulations are nice and all, but it's a bit inaccurate to say it "survived a 7.5 magnitude quake" when it didn't actually.

You're just arguing semantics. The forces applied by these shake tables are close enough to the real thing to give us a good idea of what the building can survive. Yes, you can argue "it's not a real quake," but that's pointless. Are they supposed to wait for a real quake for their test?

Also, adding in 63 steel rods seems to defeat the purpose of calling it a "wooden building".

As others have said, they're just trying to provide evidence that wood is a viable building material for larger buildings.

Re:Sensationalist headline (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#28761709)

Yet it obviously isn't, which is why they prop it up with steel.

Re:Sensationalist headline (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | about 5 years ago | (#28762933)

Nowhere does anybody say that wood has to be the only material used. It doesn't have to be all one thing or the other. Also, it appears from the unfortunately sparse article that the steel only helps to keep the building from rocking excessively. It doesn't support the weight. A building like this would likely be a good bit cheaper than a similar steel building.

Will anything be built like this? Maybe not, but it's interesting anyway.

Orwellian (4, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 5 years ago | (#28758845)

seven-story earthquake-proof wooden building

There! Are! Six! Floors!

Re:Orwellian (4, Funny)

iamhassi (659463) | about 5 years ago | (#28759175)

"There! Are! Six! Floors!"

Hmm... that's what I count too. Maybe they're using that new math, where the roof counts? Looks flat, you could probably put some tents on it and someone would rent it, especially in LA.

Re:Orwellian (1)

schon (31600) | about 5 years ago | (#28761995)

"There! Are! Six! Floors!"

Hmm... that's what I count too. Maybe they're using that new math, where the roof counts?

Maybe they're in China? [flickr.com] :)

Re:Orwellian (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about 5 years ago | (#28759505)

The first floor is open... a parking garage? Still counts, structurally.

Re:Orwellian (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about 5 years ago | (#28759549)

My mistake... I looked at the picture more closely, and now see what I thought was a parking garage is actually the shake table.

Yes, only 6 floors, and as I recall from my days as an engineer (and in the Seismic class), although the roof load is calculated in the design, it IS NOT a separate floor.

Re:Orwellian (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 5 years ago | (#28759607)

That's just standard in many buildings due to superstitions. They don't count the 13th floor.

Re:Orwellian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28763007)

I wonder why Unix programmers are so triskaidekaphobic... whenever they see the number 13 in a file they delete it, much to the chagrin of Windows Notepad.

Re:Orwellian (3, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about 5 years ago | (#28759811)

They were including the story about it surviving the magnitude 7.5 quake.

Re:Orwellian (1)

srussia (884021) | about 5 years ago | (#28760631)

seven-story earthquake-proof wooden building

There! Are! Six! Floors!

It's actually seven. Linked video from TFA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2XMfOXVOvo) shows where the shake table level is.

Re:Orwellian (1)

gubers33 (1302099) | about 5 years ago | (#28761085)

Technically the bottom floor which isn't enclosed counts as a story, it would be the basement actually.However, that part looks like it is made up of steel beams, not wood. Although it looks like a lot of the joints and supports are metal as well. So they are still lying!

Re:Orwellian (1)

MeanMF (631837) | about 5 years ago | (#28762711)

That's the table that they use to shake the building.

Re:Orwellian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28761913)

How many floors do you see, Captain?

Unimpressive... (4, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | about 5 years ago | (#28758931)

I don't know what they are trying to prove with this crap here but I am not at all impressed by that video -- I mean the building is completely empty and naked! Wouldn't the siding, roofing, walls, doors, windows, people, and furnishings make the building more heavy (and more likely to collapse)? Wouldn't the plumbing make the building more rigid and again, more likely to collapse? If I am incorrect please let me know, but it seems to me that this experiment proves precisely nothing.

Re:Unimpressive... (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 years ago | (#28759211)

Please. How much exactly do you think is known about keeping buildings together in an earthquake? The body of knowledge is improving, but there is still a lot we don't know. These guys have developed a way that will keep buildings together better than what we had previously. Even if no one ever actually builds a seven story condo, this is knowledge that will help in any kind of wood construction.

Besides, if you are not impressed then you missed the coolest part of the video. They have a platform there that can move a million pound structure around in simulation of a real earthquake. If that's not cool technology, I don't know what is.

Re:Unimpressive... (4, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | about 5 years ago | (#28759251)

It would be interesting to see how a traditionally constructed wooden building fares in that test. If, built out to the same level, a traditional structure collapses like it's made of toothpicks, then this proves something quite significant.

Re:Unimpressive... (4, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 5 years ago | (#28759267)

No, things like siding would just have to be torn off, to make sure the inside structure was still sound. You don't want to cover up the core structure for cosmetic reasons.. Also, that stuff does not really add much weight, and would be more likely to suffer damage, (ie, windows cracking, siding torn, Kitchen cabinets damaged, etc) that would not damage the integrity of the building, IE, they don't care if they have to replace the windows, the key is that the building doesn't collapse.

Re:Unimpressive... (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#28759377)

If only they had consulted you before wasting all that time and effort.

Re:Unimpressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28760007)

You are unimpressed!? They build a gigantic warehouse with a whole goddamn 7-story apartment building inside, on top of a giant machine that can rock the whole damn thing in a simulation of a 7.5 earthquake, and you are UNIMPRESSED?

They do all this, and when they run it the entire building basically sways a little and sustains almost no structural damage, and you are unimpressed because they didn't put siding on it!?

Dude, get a grip!

Re:Unimpressive... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28760395)

That "crap" is a lab experiment. It's a proof of concept well ahead of anything we've had yet. Also it's "empty and naked" to see what's going on with the structure during the shake. I wish we had the internal footage -- those are always wonderfully dramatic.

Your attitude is akin to saying every mission before Apollo 11 was crap, that "proves precisely nothing". Reel it in an maybe more people will bother to have conversations with you, and you'll become less ignorant.

Yes, all the missing items have effects, though not necessarily what one would expect, and seldom simple. Drywall for instance is very heavy but also makes studwalls into box structures. Plumbing, even loaded, is relatively light. That's more of a rigidity issue -- you have to investigate questions like does the plumbing tear out critical portions of this structure -- does it need specially designed bays, different attachment, or can it be installed as we've been doing?

Minor disclaimer: I used to be a carpenter out here on the West Coast. I find this stuff fascinating and rather overdue. The curious should dig around. There's some great vids of the structures the Japanese have put on earthquake-tables. Sometimes fully furnished condos with internal footage.

Re:Unimpressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28760443)

When you think of a building sitting on the ground, think of it as a balloon. By volume, it's an order of magnitude lighter than soil. And no, plumbling, electrical and the stuff inside does not add rigidity, except where designed to do so (shear walls.)

Re:Unimpressive... (3, Informative)

frogzilla (1229188) | about 5 years ago | (#28760973)

Actually the building had steel plates on each floor to represent the real weight of the finishing materials and furnishings. There were a few dummy rooms with furnishing etc. Earthquakes don't look that bad from a distance. The shaking is strong though and the building has to stand up to it. Some of the forces exerted are stronger than gravity (the Northridge quake apparently exceeded 1.0 g -- up to 1.8 I think). In this case they are testing a new construction design and want to see if the real building matches their (computer) models.

Re:Unimpressive... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 years ago | (#28763129)

I mean the building is completely empty and naked!

I didn't RTFA or watch the video, but now I'm tempted. After all, what geek can possibly resist a video about anything that's naked, even a building? Pr0n!

But! (1, Flamebait)

TasmanianX (1584991) | about 5 years ago | (#28758963)

Can I be the first to make the "Would it survive Godzilla?" comment.

Re:But! (1, Redundant)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | about 5 years ago | (#28759107)

More importantly...will it blend?

Re:But! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#28759301)

You must wait for the test on the E-Defense Godzilla table, planned for next month.

good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28758973)

That's impressive and all, but good luck finding a contractor who will actually build the entire building totally to spec.

Condo? How does the author know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28759087)

It could've been a rental, really.

It's called an APARTMENT BUILDING, not a "condo", you potato!

6-Story Wooden Pagoda Survived 7 Earthquakes (5, Interesting)

euyis (1521257) | about 5 years ago | (#28759161)

"The Yingzhou zhi records that there was a total of seven earthquakes between the years 1056 and 1103, yet the tower stood firm."
Pagoda of Fogong Temple [wikipedia.org]

Re:6-Story Wooden Pagoda Survived 7 Earthquakes (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#28759473)

But who knows how large the earthquakes were. Any structure could probably survive a good amount of tiny-ish earthquakes.

Re:6-Story Wooden Pagoda Survived 7 Earthquakes (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 5 years ago | (#28760755)

But who knows how large the earthquakes were. Any structure could probably survive a good amount of tiny-ish earthquakes.

This is easily fixed; just edit the Wikipedia entry to indicate that they were all 6.0 magnitude plus.

Re:6-Story Wooden Pagoda Survived 7 Earthquakes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28762735)

In my expert geological opinion, the pagoda survived a series of magnitude 10.0+ earthquakes that tore open great holes in the earth and unleashed a horde of demons from Hell. You may now cite this post as a source on Wikipedia.

Re:6-Story Wooden Pagoda Survived 7 Earthquakes (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 5 years ago | (#28763175)

Pfft, nowhere near good enough, the earthquake in the store was one and a half orders of magnitude larger than a 6.0.

7.0 or bust (literally!).

7.5? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28759439)

I assumed they arrived at 7.5 by testing that, then testing 7.6 and the building collapsed. I was all excited to see a video of the building collapsing and what do I see? 3 seconds of shake and 40 seconds of nothing!

Jell-O (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28759701)

Just need Bill Cosby now to do a wooden Jell-o Commercial!

Realities of life (1)

elbiatcho1 (1554817) | about 5 years ago | (#28759779)

Termites and mold may have a field day with this structure.

Re:Realities of life (1)

3waygeek (58990) | about 5 years ago | (#28760625)

Not as big a problem as it might seem. As pointed out upthread [slashdot.org] , the structure was constructed with a lot of engineered lumber. The binders in the engineered lumber probably have some inherent insect & mold deterrent properties, which could be bolstered by the addition of insecticide and/or fungicide.

Yes, it's "wood", but... (4, Interesting)

G-Man (79561) | about 5 years ago | (#28759975)

Disclaimer: IAAAS/IANYAA (I am an architecture student/I am not yet an architect).

Good for them, but it doesn't really surprise me that you can make a building of that type/size earthquake-resistant. While the building is technically "wood", they are using a lot of engineered lumber (lumber that is made from particles/chips of wood held together with a binder). Looking at the pictures in the article, the building is sheathed in OSB (oriented strand board), which acts as a very good shear panel. The floors are supported using TJIs (Truss Joist I-Beams), where the top and bottom of the TJI is made of laminated wood and OSB is used as the webbing of the truss. These things are very strong, and they are anchored on the ends with galvanized steel hangars, which are very secure. The weak point in wood structures is frequently in how the pieces are joined together, and the hangars largely address that. Engineered lumber is increasingly popular in US wood construction, not for earthquake reasons, but because it is very consistent - it comes in the exact size you order, doesn't warp/twist/bow, etc., and it doesn't have knotholes. Where this building uses regular milled lumber they often stack it 6-7 deep to make columns.

They are still using steel - in the foundation and in the tiedown system, to do critical structural work. Nothing wrong with that, it's the smart thing to do. Steel has awesome tensile strength.

My guess is that a mid-rise made using this method would be significantly cheaper than reinforced concrete, and somewhat cheaper than steel. The difference is that a steel framed building will be put together by skilled welders, while the framers putting this building up will tend to be of a lower skill level - one reason this building would be cheaper - and you'll have to keep a closer eye on the construction. Given the need for engineered lumber, selective use of steel, and close attention to how the building is put together, I don't see this as a panacea for earthquake-resistant housing in the third-world. I'm sure they would love it in California, though. The big challenge is ensuring consistent construction and getting the changes in the building code (particularly in CA, which is more earthquake conscious than other states). Beyond that, it's just a question of cost.

Code enforcement (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#28760005)

There's no technical problem making a wood building that strong. It's the enforcement that's the problem. Wood has good tensile strength, but the joints usually used in wood construction don't.

A few years ago, after some hurricanes, many Florida builders were discovered not to be building to code. Hurricane-proofing for small wood structures mostly consists of putting in metal brackets at joints to give wood-to-wood joints tensile strength. Not only do the brackets have to be put in, nails have to be hammered into all the holes in the brackets. Many contractors were sloppy about that, resulting in a big loss of tensile strength and major damage (like roofs ripped off) during hurricanes.

A big problem in the Third World is bad concrete mixes. Much concrete construction goes up without enough cement in the mix, and that results in building collapses.

Here's a good project for someone - develop a low-cost hand held device for concrete testing. [state.il.us] The existing techniques are slow, labor-intensive, and a pain to use. Tests for hardened concrete usually involve cutting out a plug and sending it to a lab elsewhere. Small portable devices would be a big help here.

Re:Code enforcement (2, Informative)

Hubbell (850646) | about 5 years ago | (#28760273)

Uh, concrete testing is done via filling multiple plastic cylinders with concrete as it comes off of each truck to cure for 21-28 days prior to being test for strength, atleast here in CT.

Will it blend? (1)

Scragglykat (1185337) | about 5 years ago | (#28761137)

I'm not convinced that this structure could withstand a Blendtec assault...

Ooooh impressive .. not! (1)

MarkTina (611072) | about 5 years ago | (#28761425)

NZ just had a 7.8 quake that barely woke up the sheep! http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10584761 [nzherald.co.nz] Seriously though, bugger all people live down there so the biggest report of damage I heard of was some traffic lights falling over. :-)

Re:Ooooh impressive .. not! (1)

miasmic (669645) | about 5 years ago | (#28763131)

NZ just had a 7.8 quake that barely woke up the sheep! http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10584761 [nzherald.co.nz] Seriously though, bugger all people live down there so the biggest report of damage I heard of was some traffic lights falling over. :-)

Yeah 7.5 isn't a huge Quake - they say the next big one to hit the Alpine Fault in South Westland or Nelson Lakes could easily be a 9.0+. If this is intended for California I really think it should be designed to withstand an 8.0 which is supposedly about the maximum the greater Los Angeles area could be subject to, I don't think it's possible to claim anything like they have invented an "earthquake-proof house".

another rigged 7th floor wooden house at 7.2 mag. (1)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | about 5 years ago | (#28761935)

Rigged and working, more or less same wooden strucuture as the one in the article... plus some inside weights and plumbings/electric rig.. italian engineering on japanese test lab... too bad they didn't use these when earthquake struck... (www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4q_ytmwyzY )

I'm a little underwhelmed (1)

caluml (551744) | about 5 years ago | (#28762203)

I have to admit that I'm a little underwhelmed by the video. I watched it, and about halfway through was thinking: They must ramp it right up at the end.

*That* was 7.5? It looked very tame.
I do live in the notoriously un-earthquakey British Isles though, so perhaps I'm lacking perspective.

Re:I'm a little underwhelmed (1)

orngjce223 (1505655) | about 5 years ago | (#28762505)

Yes, that's 7.5 in miniature. Believe me, you don't want to be in that building during the shaking...

Re:I'm a little underwhelmed (1)

caluml (551744) | about 5 years ago | (#28762957)

Actually, I would - I'd love to experience one. (Assuming survival with all faculties intact).
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