A full report has been released about the structural inadequacies of the Canterbury Television (CTV) Building which fell in February 2011 after a series of earthquakes struck the town of Christchurch. The first quake was recorded on 4 September 2010 with an aftershock of 4.9Rs following on the 26 December 2010. Another earthquake shook Christchurch on 22 February 2011 causing the previously-damaged building to crumble, taking the lives of 115 people.
Over the months since, an intensive analysis has been undertaken to uncover the root cause of the collapse with findings now openly released to the public. A commission found that the engineer on the project, David Harding, was ‘working beyond his competence’ and concluded: “The engineering design of the building was deficient in a number of respects. While there were elements of the applicable codes that were confusing, a building permit should not have been issued for the building as designed. There were also inadequacies in the construction of the building. The post-earthquake inspections of the CTV Building also illustrated areas in which building assessment processes could be improved.”
It is understood that the building design did not comply with the correct legislation of the time when it was first approved in 1986 and while the Council’s building engineer had his doubts about the design, he was assured by the scheme’s Principal Engineer that any problems he had could be fixed. Other issues such as the lack of supervision during construction and the engineer’s inexperience with computer modelling software have also been reported as contributing factors to the building’s instability.
It was also found that the CTV Building was ‘green stickered’ after the September earthquake - i.e. marked ‘safe’ - by three building officials however an engineer was not consulted. It was because of this authentication that the building was occupied by so many people during the February 2011 quake which claimed so many lives. The Royal Commission concluded that: “There is a reasonable level of constructive engagement between the different branches of engineering. However, there is scope for more constructive, and early, collaboration between architects and engineers.”