Friday, 15 April 2016

Carbon Fiber Strings Could Save a Building From an Earthquake


First Seismic Reinforcement Structure – Kengo Kuma

The first seismic reinforcement structure in the world, using a carbon fiber material has been designed by Kengo Kuma, a world renowned architect. The Komatsu Seiten Fabric Laboratory, based in Ishikawa, Japan, with a new building material had been proposed by a fiber company. The earlier head office building of Komatsu Seiren had been renovated with the first seismic reinforcement in the world that tends to use the super-light seismic reinforcement material known as CABKOMA Strand Rod, which is a thermoplastic carbon fiber composite a seismic reinforcing material.

Use of textiles as building materials proposed included `greenbiz’ an ultrafine porous spongy ceramic base that is eco-friendly building material. This resulted in the building that was recreated as the `fa-bo’ fabric laboratory. Seismic retrofitting is said to be an important attempt which needs bolting an older building to its foundation in order that it does not shake apart in the event of an earthquake. However, based on the age of the building and the type of material it is made of, an out-dated retrofit has the capability of destroying a structure in a different way-aesthetically.

Strings of Carbon Fiber – Solution

A Japanese company is of the belief that strings of carbon fiber could be the solution to the problem and so it wrapped them around its headquarters to determine how this could work. CABKOMA; The fabric, a carbon fiber core, wrapped in added fibers, is coated with a thermoplastic resin. A 520-foot piece weighs less than a garden hose and can be carried in one hand.

Carbon fiber is said to be one of the best ways of absorbing shockwaves without adding substance and has a very great tensile strength. Moreover, CABKOMA is also as strong as steel though 90% lighter. Unlike the rigid rods that may need drilling for installation, the Strand Rod tends to be flexible, whisper-thin band which is secured utilising screws and an adhesive. It seems to work in a similar manner as the traditional brace-and-bolt, though rather than anchoring the walls of the building to its foundations, it tethers the roof of the structure to the ground so that when it tends to shake, the complete building moves together.

Strand Rods as Architectural Component

Komatsu Seiten had engaged the legendary architect Kengo Kumu together with Ejiri Structural Engineers to work together on a visionary application for its headquarters and used the Strand Rods as an architectural component. The strands tend to swathe off the side of the building like a harp which are attached to the frame of the building below the ground.

This does not mean that Japan would be going wrapping all building like rubber band balls. With the space, the strands tend to add to a structure’s footprint. It is surely not practical for dense cities or taller building but it is certainly being used in protecting older, fragile landmark in a seismically active location which could not survive more invasive construction. Moreover, the thin ribbons of carbon fiber tend to look attractive on their own and one can imagine it as a well-designed architectural safety net.

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