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The Aftermath of Disaster in Christchurch – Auckland Presentation

18 May 2021 6:00 pm 8:00 pm

SESOC is pleased to invite you to attend Helen Trappitt’s presentation, The Aftermath of Disaster in Christchurch – Repairing, strengthening and creating new hope.

Tuesday 18th May 6pm: University of Auckland – Faculty of Engineering, 1.401


Helen originally shared this presentation as keynote speaker at the virtual ASEC conference last year, and to an audience in Christchurch in March this year as part of the Engineering New Zealand Ten Years On Commemorations.

Her abstract poses the argument that the most sustainable building is one that is able to be restored and repaired following a disaster. After the Canterbury earthquake sequence of 2010-11 many buildings in the Christchurch CBD were demolished, often unnecessarily. The presentation will focus on the reinstatement of five buildings in Christchurch CBD (complete or ongoing) which cover a broad range of structural forms and construction. Ultimately almost 80% of the built environment in the city centre was lost. But there were many other ways that structural engineers brought life back to the city. Helen will also share her experience in the development of several large scale public artworks, which helped to draw people back into the city centre once again.

SESOC member Helen Trappitt is a structural engineer, director and shareholder at Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers based in Christchurch. She is on the Industry Advisory Board for the University of Canterbury Civil and Natural Resources Engineering department, where she graduated with First Class Honours in 2000. Helen is a Director of Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Limited, the joint venture company tasked with reinstating the city’s most significant icon.

Helen specialises in the seismic strengthening of heritage buildings and has experience in this sector both before and after the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence.  She is also well respected for her expertise in helping to resolve complex residential insurance claims.

Helen was awarded the Engineering New Zealand Canterbury Branch Award for Excellence in Service to the Community in 2018 for her pro bono work helping Gap Filler, CoCA, FESTA and SCAPE Public Art; and for her efforts in promoting engineering as a career at girls’ schools.  In 2019 Lewis Bradford was awarded two inaugural Engineering New Zealand ENVI awards for projects Helen steered.

Lewis Bradford has been responsible for the successful structural repair and strengthening of numerous important buildings in Christchurch. They were internationally recognised in 2019 with the IStructE award for structures in extreme conditions for the design of the new central library Turanga.

In a year when we remember the events in Christchurch ten years ago, Helen’s presentation provides technical information on the strengthening and repair of heritage buildings, the design of new buildings and large-scale public artworks, mixed with the reality of experiencing the violence of the earthquakes and the extraordinary circumstances of working as an engineer in a devastated city as it continued to be subject to aftershocks.


1.401 Faulty of Engineering, University of Auckland
20 Symonds Street
Auckland, New Zealand
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