University of Canterbury
Structural Engineering Lab

The Structural Engineering Laboratory at the University of Canterbury (UC) is a facility used by Civil Engineering Researchers. Here the testing of structures (e.g. entire buildings, bridges etc.) and parts of structures (e.g. beams, columns, walls etc.) is undertaken using different loading configurations that represent forces from actions such as wind or earthquake loading.


Like the QuakeCraft project, the structures tested in the laboratory are scale models due to the high expense of testing full scale structures. But unlike the QuakeCraft project, the materials used for the models are the same that are used in real construction, also a large amount of computer modelling and design is undertaken first before the physical model is constructed. 

The main components of the Structural Engineering Laboratory are the strong floor and walls, and overhead cranes. The strong floor and walls can be thought of as very secure attachment points for the model so that it doesn't move when the overhead cranes allow the movement of heavy model components.

In this laboratory the models are loaded by hydraulic rams which push and pull the model to simulate forces from actions such as earthquakes. Special instruments attached to the model measure the applied forces and displacements of the model. These measurements are then used to analyse the performance of the model and to enable a comparison of computer modelling against the tested model.