By Geoff Vause
The devastating Christchurch earthquakes presented a beautiful opportunity to think outside the square – literally.
New Zealand Education Gazette said in February 2016 that after the February 2011 earthquake the Government committed more than a billion dollars to rebuilding or remodelling 115 schools by 2022. The task was huge. Some schools had been destroyed altogether, and others required major work to get them functioning again.
During the earthquake chaos afflicted students, and the parents who could not be sure where their children were. Schools were the centre of many families’ attention. How safe were they? Were the children there or released to make their way home?
The rebuild planning never considered the use of geodesic construction. These amazing, resilient structures enclose space for about 30 percent less cost than compressional buildings. Unlike the latter, geodesics cannot collapse.
Architects and construction companies generally don’t like them. The design and components used are simple, repetitive and largely modular. Construction costs are limited to a narrow range of simple components that are easy and fast to use. Design, shape variations, size and application are limitless. They are quick and inexpensive to construct, and new thinking is required.
Christchurch could be dotted with geodesic schools which would retain students and attract the rest of the community during an earthquake as the safe hub, the meeting point, and include disaster relief centres and supplies for whole communities as part of their design and fit-out.
Christchurch presented the opportunity to develop a geodesic manufacturing sector where Kiwi domes and disaster relief design and manufacturing would be exported throughout the world. Geodesics will remain virtually intact through most natural disasters, and can quickly create a sense of village in urban and rural contexts.
These structures are light, fast to erect, durable and adaptable. They are much cheaper to heat and cool, and because of the absence of large plain surfaces casting and creating shadow they receive natural light more readily allowing gardens and trees to be planted indoors.
The engineering data is intrinsic to the design and components used, greatly simplifying engineering sign-off. The insurance industry can be encouraged to cover indemnity for most conditions due to the sheer strength of the buildings.
It’s fair to say geodesic thinking differs from compressional thinking in a similar way to the difference between load-sharing geodesic construction and load stacked compressional construction.
Point to multi-point thinking draws on far wider information than linear cause-and-effect thinking allowing fresh form to emerge, and can be applied to all areas of human endeavour.