REDUCING PARTITION WALL FAILURE IN SEISMIC EVENTS

Over the last couple of years New Zealand has endured a number of major seismic occurrences, and subsequently have had to complete extensive repairs and rebuilds before life can get back to normal. Section 131 of the Building Act 2004 was introduced to require councils to develop policies on dangerous, earthquake-prone, and insanitary buildings. And New Zealand Standards are being continually developed and adapted to include learnings from the reviews into how buildings performed during the quakes.

Failure of inadequately braced partition wall
(Photo © Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates

The New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineers found that, even when structural damage was limited or negligible the non-structural damage, including ceilings and partitions, was the main contributor of losses and downtime for the majority of buildings.1
1 http://www.nzsee.org.nz/db/SpecialIssue/44(4)0239.pdf

Recently research has been undertaken to mitigate this risk, and new systems developed to absorb seismic energy and reduce partition wall failure. After the second Christchurch earthquake we asked ourselves how could we better secure partition walls" said Shaun Evans from Shore Solutions Ltd. During an intense design phase we created the TRACKLOKTM system. Tracklock is designed to seismically secure under ceiling partition walls and glazing lines to slab above. It’s easily installed, cost effective and works really well. Best of all it’s safer for building occupants during and after a seismic event”.

Tracklok was tested by HFC Structural Engineers, including material testing by Opus International using a series of custom designed, hydraulically powered tests. The system has been engineered to  ceiling grid interaction absorbs seismic energy, reducing partition wall failure. It has a low profile allowing installation in partition and glazing heads.  It’s also made of non-combustible materials helping the system to maintain internal structures and assisting to maintain egress during a fire or seismic event.

The integrity of the partition also helps maintain the passive fire resistance of the partition. According to BRANZ research2 the reduction in fire resistance of a 60 minute plasterboard lined wall after earthquake could be as much as 50%. This can be compounded by the fact that active fire protection systems, such as sprinklers may be rendered inoperable by an earthquake.

2http://www.branz.co.nz/cms_show_download.php?id=9295894623bb3690bdb7e1ed2b163072a1a07c3e

“The Tracklok system has been designed to provide users compliance to the NZ Building Code and we are about to embark on the Codemark process to fully document this” said Evans. “At a cost that is less than non compliant methods Tracklok works and provide a compliant proprietary solution”.

Tracklok isolates partition walls from the two way grid and braces the partition to the slab above. This allows flexibility in choice of studs used to provide the bracing link between the partition fitting and the brackets supplied to fix to the underside of the structure above”.

The Tracklok system can be used in conjunction with the following Masterspec product partner sections by Forman Rondo, Potter Interior Systems and T&R Interior Systems.


5211F Forman Rondo partitioning systems

5211P Potter steel stud framing

5211PP Potter aluminium internal partitions

5211TR T&R Interior Systems - Partitions

 

Specifiers using Masterspec will find all TRACKLOKTM technical information and detail drawings on using the system at:

 

http://www.shoresolutions.co.nz/downloads/


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