The Royal Commission on the Canterbury earthquakes has released its interim report.
Commission chair Justice Mark Cooper said:
The timing has, of necessity, meant that the Royal Commission has not been able to produce a lengthy list of recommendations. However, this Report does make some recommendations which reflect our view that urgent action is required in respect of some aspects of current building design practice, both in Christchurch and elsewhere, to make some buildings’ elements (particularly stairs and floors in multi-storey buildings) more resilient.
The Royal Commission is also of the view that immediate action is necessary to strengthen parts of unreinforced masonry buildings that could fail, causing injury or loss of life, in earthquakes that are less severe than the Canterbury earthquakes were. We have made recommendations accordingly.
Its recommendations include soil analysis and appropriate foundation design, changes to some structural design standards and construction practices, and use of new building technologies.
Other issues which will be addressed in the final report including lessons to be learned from the failures of the CTV and PGC buildings where the majority of victims of February’s quake died.
Some recommendations are directed only at Christchurch but others will apply to the rest of the country as well.
Earthquake strengthening requirements have often been regarded as overly onerous but the February earthquake demonstrated the importance of high standards for design and building.