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Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Arts and Media, New Zealand

To promote the use of timber, the New Zealand Ministry of Forestry agreed to invest in an innovative timber building called the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) Arts and Media. Following a national design competition between some of New Zealand’s best architects and engineers, Aurecon was awarded the project of designing and building the structure. 

The resulting multiple award winning building is not only a first of its kind in multi-storey timber constructions, it also employs a world first in advanced damage avoidance earthquake design in the form of rocking timber walls. The walls are designed to rock on their foundations, reducing seismic energy, and are held by high strength steel tendons that pull the wall back to its original position after movement.

The technology marks a fundamental change in design philosophy. While meeting the current standard “…that ensures people can walk out alive”, it also ensures that the building “still functions” after a seismic event.

The project also benefited the Nelson community, with locally grown Nelson Pine LVL used. Timber is the primary export of Nelson and its use in the NMIT Arts and Media building is expected to promote exports throughout New Zealand and Australia.

In 2011 the design of the NMIT Arts and Media building was recognised with numerous award wins, including the New Zealand Timber Design Awards, Institution of Structural Engineers UK’s Structural Awards, Property Council of New Zealand Awards, and the ACENZ INNOVATE NZ Awards of Excellence.