Resilience to Hazards

PhD opportunity

Project Status:

PhD: Developing a Disaster Limit State Design Method for Buildings in Cyclone Prone Areas

Supervisors:

Prof Mahen Mahendran (QUT), Dr Matthew Mason (QUT), Prof George Walker (Aon Benfield, Adjunct Prof. QUT)

Cyclones have often been quite destructive to the communities living in the cyclone prone areas of Australia. Human safety during cyclones has significantly improved over the years, but not the economic losses due to the ever increasing urbanization of society and wealth per person of those living in urban environments. Unless this expansion in size and wealth of urban concentrations is accompanied by increased Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) measures then the magnitude of economic losses from disasters will continue to increase. The economic impact of major disasters can disrupt communities and the lives of their citizens significantly. Hence there is increased global recognition for appropriate DRR strategies to be developed and implemented. An important component of these strategies is building standards and their implementation.

Current building codes are essentially focused on the safety of individual buildings and their occupants, and are not drafted explicitly for the purposes of designing for DRR which requires consideration be given to the performance of all buildings in a disaster affected area, not just the one being designed. They do not allow for the so-called synchronous failures in a major disaster, ie. when thousands of residential buildings are damaged during a single extreme event. Hence there is a need to develop design strategies in areas that may be affected by these major disasters focused on DRR to consider the above issues. The Late Professor Paul Grundy and other researchers working on DRR proposed a Disaster Limit State design approach to deal with this problem. This limit state is used to set appropriate design criteria (generally longer return period for design actions), and therefore control the extent of failure for new buildings subject to events beyond those catered for by the ultimate limit state criteria used at present.

The main aim of this research is to develop an implementable disaster limit state design method for buildings in cyclone prone areas so that they remain stable and resilient during future cyclone events. This research will investigate the validity as well as engineering and economic practicality of implementing the proposed Disaster Limit State for buildings. It will focus on the roofing systems as they are the weakest link in low-rise buildings (school, residential, industrial and commercial buildings). Applicability of the proposed new disaster limit state approach will be investigated based on (1) a thorough literature review of the current and proposed design criteria , (2) investigation into the adequacy and cost of currently used roofing systems when constructed for a number of proposed disaster limit states (e.g. 1/2500 years) using available design tools, laboratory tests and numerical modeling of roofing system components, and develop improved roofing systems, as well as costing, if required. (3) Cost-benefit analysis for these improved members and connections to assess their economic viability (4) Investigation into the viability of implementing the proposed disaster limit state for the design of roofing systems, and then to the entire buildings. The outcomes from this research will not only be the inclusion of a suitable disaster limit state in our building codes but also valuable information on design and costs for homeowners if they want to build beyond the current standard requirements.

 This project would suit a civil, structural or mechanical engineering graduate. It will draw on and add to the current CRC project, Mitigation strategies and cost efficiencies for improving resilience of housing to severe wind events, and several of the projects within the Resilience and Mitigation through Hardening Buildings and Infrastructure.

Send an enquiry

More information

Lyndsey Wright

Contract Research and Education Manager, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Phone: 03 9412 9600
Email: lyndsey.wright@bnhcrc.com.au

Level 5 / 340 Albert Street
East Melbourne, Victoria 3002

Postgraduate Scholarships Application Process

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC postgraduate scholarships are available for students pursuing research higher degrees in the bushfire research fields, in line with Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC projects.

Both Full and Top Up scholarships and project support funding are available for outstanding students, with preference given to the provision of top up scholarships.

Current funding amounts are:

  • Full Scholarships of up to $28,000 per annum for three and a half years.
  • Top Up scholarships of $10,000 per annum for three and a half years to holders of Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA) and University Research Scholarships.

Bushfire & Natural Hazard CRC Scholarship Application Kit

You are welcome to submit enquiries using the form on this page. However, you must complete this form to make an application.

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Post graduate research opportunities
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Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook

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