Structural engineers – if you’re looking for a competitive advantage in the earthquake strengthening market, our in-house software can deliver.

Answering the call for safer buildings

Following the Canterbury earthquake sequence there has been a move to future proof and reduce the likelihood of similar effects to buildings throughout New Zealand.  To achieve this new legislation has been put in place that requires existing buildings to undergo seismic strengthening.

These zones are based on the risk of earthquake and each has been given a timeframe for assessment and strengthening - proportionate to the risk.  The intent being the right balance between safety, cost, heritage and practicality when dealing with existing buildings.

“A combined structural and geotechnical team coupled with our accurate modelling and deep expertise reduces cost and unwanted time delays.”

Beware of the false economy

For many property developers and building owners – cost dictates the direction that their seismic strengthening work takes.

We often balk at the idea of having to outlay money… particularly when it is on something we can’t see.  A focus on fixing the visible structure rather than what is in ground beneath a building can often lead to unforeseen re-work and hidden costs in the future.


GARP – Axial load distribution for a tall building (>250 m tall) with a piled raft foundation

GARP with legend

GARP – Vertical displacement contours for a tall building (>250 m tall) with a piled raft foundation

However investing in fully understanding ground conditions early on ensures intelligent risk can be taken in foundation design. Decisions made at the start of a project on load transfer have significant implications for management of project risk and construction cost in terms of materials used and time expended.

A well-informed understanding of ground conditions means optimum outcomes, reduced costs and timely deliver for the project over all.

Software driven by technical expertise 

At Coffey we’ve applied our deep expertise to build cutting edge in-house software. Our tools are allowing more accurate modelling of ground characteristics and structural loading demands, allowing design of more effective and efficient foundation systems. This is realised tangibly in the reduction of construction costs and project risk through the life of a wide spectrum of structures such as bridge designs, ports and low rise commercial buildings.

Developed by some of our world leading geotechnical engineers and supported by research institutions, our software allows foundation systems to be analysed using the latest engineering knowledge enabling designs to be optimised to site conditions and structural demands. It has provided significant value to some of the world’s most iconic buildings such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. By combining our geotechnical peer review and independent analysis of the building foundations with our in-house settlement analysis software, laboratory testing and trial pile testing we contributed to an on schedule opening with settlements within allowable limits.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Our bespoke seismic spectral response analysis and design of the piled raft system for the Incheon 151 Tower, Seoul which included over 170 2.5m diameter piles, was able to deliver a cost-effective foundation system in difficult ground conditions.  This was specifically tailored to the seismic hazard of the site – a solution not possible without combining deep geotechnical expertise with our in-house software.

Incheon tower

151 Incheon Tower

In Sydney, as part of the $6 billion Barangaroo South development, the design analysis used a performance based method consisting of 450 piles and 20 different pile types across the buildings. Utilising in-house software, we were able to reduce the diameter of the piles and delete 2ha of working platform providing the client with substantial cost savings.



We work closely with property developers and structural engineers in the Wellington region - recently delivering cost effective foundation solutions during the seismic upgrade and development of a multistorey building in Lower Hutt.  Early investment in a peer review analysis of a proposed reinforced concrete foundation that identified exceedances in individual pile capacities and difficulties in drilling through a protected aquifer, enabled us to propose a less expensive piled raft foundation. The design was optimised using our in-house software allowing the foundation elements to be modelled as an integrated system sharing structural loads.

It is often not fully appreciated that the biggest risks to a project can lie in the ground. Foundation designs can be ‘over-designed’ or ‘under-designed’ as a result of the limitations of ‘off the shelf’ design software - leading to projects incurring unnecessary construction costs with redundant foundation components or, more troublingly, foundations that are inadequate for the structural loads.

How Coffey can help

With so much work being done throughout New Zealand to meet new seismic legislation it’s more important than ever for structural engineers to consider the ground. By making us a part of the structural team from the start –our in-house software combined with our technical expertise can lead to innovative solutions that provide cost and time savings.