Francisco Galvez never thought degrees in architectural engineering and the structural analysis of historical structures would bring him all the way from Spain to New Zealand. But a year ago, the chance to study Unreinforced Masonry (URM) structures at QuakeCoRE with Professor Jason Ingham offered a chance to apply his studies of limestone and numerical simulation of masonry structures in Europe to earthquake-prone buildings here.
Francisco’s PhD research includes several projects, the first of which focuses on studying the collapse mechanisms of URM buildings during the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes to develop seismic assessment methodologies for complex URM buildings. Francisco is, for the first time, applying a displacement-based methodology called macroblocks, which was developed in Italy, to a New Zealand building inventory. Francisco is also validating these results through numerical simulations using the Discrete Element Method.
A second part of Francisco’s research examines the construction of architectural details in Oamaru stone masonry to determine the potential impacts of an Alpine Fault earthquake on the buildings. The Oamaru Heritage Precinct is the most unique, intact Victorian precinct in New Zealand. Francisco’s work is part of a larger QuakeCoRE project in Oamaru that combines social science and engineering to identify the challenges and potential ways of addressing the tensions amongst heritage conservation, public safety, seismic risk, tourism and regional development.
Using a drone, Francisco has captured a “visual inventory” of the buildings, which he is using to create 3D models and to conduct structural analysis of the buildings, as well as to explore the possibilities of using gaming engines to simulate URM building collapse. This work will help researchers predict the vulnerability of URM structures across New Zealand.
Francisco became the Chair of the Auckland QuakeCoRE Emerging Researchers Chapter at the beginning of the year, and he is enjoying helping with outreach and student-run events such as the Civil Engineering Departmental Symposium. In addition, Francisco is working with the Whanganui Earthquake Prone Buildings Community Taskforce to explore the viability of reinstating canopy posts for earthquake safety and integration with the heritage architecture of the city and possible tourism incentives.
Outside of his studies, Francisco enjoys swimming and basketball and says he loves the “wild and unique” landscapes of New Zealand.