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Earth Sheltered Housing

Project information

Client: Mott MacDonald Limited

Project Date: 2013 

Site Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Project Status: Development

The context – Aftershocks continue to affect Christchurch. It is very difficult to fund new conventional construction within the sites affected by the previous earthquakes. There are almost no conventional construction techniques that can retain their original asset value after an earthquake has passed.  It is quite possible to engineer new buildings to minimise loss of life or damage, but much harder to design structures that retain the resale value or can continue operating as a valuable income-generating asset.

ZEDlfie and the team have looked at conventional earthquake resistant structures and came to the following conclusion. It is possible to build very lightweight timber structures and support them on relatively thin reinforced concrete rafts – however, the rafts are likely to crack easily with substrate movement, making the structures unfit for continued occupation.

So after we visit Christchurch to see the affected earthquake zone, we decided to develop a new kind of structure that had no foundations and could accommodate a degree of soil heave and subsidence without permanent damage, and in a way that allows continuous occupation without significant devaluation of the asset.

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