Canterbury Today (Nov / Dec 12) Concrete Association Seeks to Inform and Inspire

04 Dec 2012

CONCRETE – The silent work horse of the New Zealand construction industry, has a strong and enduring relationship with Canterbury. 

The aggregates that form the bulk of concrete in the region are sourced from the Waimakariri and other regional waterways, while the cement that binds the mix is also a local South Island product.

The connection is strengthened further by the University of Canterbury having produced world renowned structural engineers, such as the late Professors Bob Park and Tom Paulay, whose material of choice was concrete.

In addition, some of New Zealand’s most celebrated architects, particularly the Christchurch based Sir Miles Warren, have chosen concrete to express their vision.

As rebuilding work gathers pace there is little doubt  that this relationship will endure.

Quintessentially Cantabrian, concrete will play a key role in ensuring a modern and resilient built environment across the region.


By blending technical and marketing disciplines, the Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ) will be supporting decision makers throughout reconstruction.

CCANZ is the umbrella trade association for the wider New Zealand concrete industry, and is currently engaged in a range of activities designed to inform and inspire the Canterbury rebuild across commercial, residential and civil areas of construction.

Key amongst these activities is Coming Home to Concrete, a campaign showcasing the many benefits of concrete houses, and the pilot ArchEng student workshop.

Designed to raise awareness of the advantages of residential concrete construction, from floor slabs through to fully concrete houses, CCANZ recently launched the Coming Home to Concrete campaign.

As we move forward to tackle the challenges posed by the rebuild, the significant role concrete can play in providing comfortable, stylish and strong homes at affordable prices must be part of everyone’s thinking.

Coming Home to Concrete illustrates how we have the opportunity to enhance our residential building stock by utilising the many benefits of concrete, and in turn help achieve durable and healthy homes.

The campaign also communicates the recent changes to the New Zealand Building Code stemming from the Canterbury earthquakes.  Specifically, it is now mandatory for all residential concrete slabs, on “good ground”, to be reinforced with Grade 500E ductile mesh, as well as all perimeter foundations being required to be tied to the concrete slab with reinforcing steel.

Central to Coming Home to Concrete is a short film fronted by Kevin Milne that highlights the candid views of homeowners, architects and builders, during interviews structured around the attributes of concrete.

The film features concrete’s ability, through its thermal mass, to deliver a warm home, closely followed by such properties as robustness, seismic performance, fire resistance, and a growing appreciation of the aesthetic and acoustic gains achievable with concrete.

Along with the short-film, the Coming Home to Concrete initiative provides a range of reader-friendly print and web-based resources to help all those involved with residential construction make informed choices that optimise concrete’s potential.

Campaign material is available via the Coming Home to Concrete website

Another area CCANZ is proactive in is the tertiary education space.  Engaging with today’s students will help build long-term relationships with tomorrow’s professionals.

CCANZ recently organized the inaugural ArchEng workshop, an initiative designed to encourage aspiring construction specialists to work together to incorporate the best insights and latest technology into a building design.

Bringing together 5 architecture students from Victoria University and 5 engineering students from the University of Canterbury, the workshop created a relaxed and collaborative environment.
Faced with a brief to develop a preliminary design for an inner city Wellington cultural centre with concrete as the primary building material, the students worked in cross-disciplinary teams of two.
The workshop ran over 3-days, and included site visits to inspirational concrete buildings in Wellington. These were the Alan MacDiarmid Building which utilizes the PREcast Seismic Structural System (PRESSS), and the Meridian Building, New Zealand's first 5 star Green Star building.

The site visits were guided by practicing engineers and architects who were involved in the design and build at each site.

While the teams were ultimately competing for a first prize, the workshop created plenty of opportunity for networking.  The judging panel included representatives from BRANZ and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Employment, both organisations keen on increasing productivity and communication in the built environment.

The ArchEng workshop was a success, with feedback from all participants extremely positive. It is anticipated that the workshop will become an annual event as CCANZ continues to foster cross-disciplinary contact between early career professionals for better concrete outcomes.
To view a short film of the workshop visit YouTube ( and search for “CCANZ ArchEng student workshop”.

The sustainable built environment that emerges across Canterbury over the coming years will undoubtedly represent the future in terms of design and material selection - but it will also acknowledge the past.

As the rebuild process picks-up momentum CCANZ will continue to implement a programme of initiatives to demonstrate the benefits of concrete construction.

Article appeared in Canterbury Today magazine (Nov / Dec 2012).