Seismic Ceiling for Fit Out


Did you know that all buildings in Australia requires seismic design? It is a mandatory requirement of the National Construction Code that all buildings, including architectural and services components, such as suspended ceilings to be designed for earthquake loads to As1170.4.

A Seismic Design considers a wide variety of potential loads and forces on a building structure, not just earthquakes. It also ensures that your design is compliant with Australia’s National Construction Code, applicable in all states and territories.

What is a Seismic Design?

A Seismic Design is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to design. All actions and loads listed in the National Construction Code (NCC) and relevant standards must be considered.

While earthquakes in Australia are typically of low magnitude, other forces such as wind are often the governing factor in design, particularly for internal and external partitions. 

There are many factors that come into a particular design, including its geographic location, terrain, and function. No single design is the same so generic guides typically can’t be relied on. 

Does Your Project Need To Be Accessed For Seismic Design?

Short answer is yes. All buildings and their parts need an assessment of their seismic requirements, in accordance with the National Construction Code (NCC). However, it is their ‘Level of Importance (LOI)’ which determines the extent of the seismic design requirements.

The NCC defines the LOI for the different building types, ranging from 1 through to 4, with LOI 1 being the lowest level. The LOI is typically established through occupancy levels and function of the building within the community or broader. The following Table B1.2a from the NCC provides a brief description of the building types applicable to each LOI.

IMPORTANCE LEVELBUILDING TYPES1Buildings or structures presenting a low degree of hazard to life and other property in the case of failure.2Buildings or structures not included in Importance Levels 1, 3 and 4.3Buildings or structures that are designed to contain a large number of people.4Buildings or structures that are essential to post-disaster recovery or associated with hazardous facilities.

Some residential buildings of Importance Level 1 are “deemed-to-comply” under the NCC, and therefore, do not require a specific seismic design. Conversely, buildings that fall into Importance Level 4 such as hospitals, are essential to post-disaster recovery and therefore require a greater seismic load (or level of safety) to be considered in their design.

For structures of Importance Level 2 or greater, the seismic actions on the walls and ceilings in these buildings needs to be considered, in conjunction with any other expected actions, such as wind and occupancy loads. The NCC provides the minimum seismic event to be considered based on the LOI of the building, and the Australian Standard AS1170.4 `Earthquake actions in Australia’ provides the method of assessing the seismic actions applicable to the walls and ceilings in the building.

What are the Main Factors affecting Seismic Loads?

In order for a seismic assessment to be completed it is essential that certain projects specific information be provided, and early in the design phase. For the seismic design of the Rondo Wall and Ceiling Systems, the following information is required;

  1. Building Importance Level – this information is usually found on the Structures Note
  2. Site sub-soil class – This is the details of the foundations for the building, as this will affect the building response to the earthquake. From strong rock to very soft soil; Class Ae, Be, Ce, De, or Ee. This information is also found on the Structures Note (S01 Drawing).
  3. Building location – this will establish the applicable seismic hazard factor.
  4. Architectural drawings – this is used to develop a scope of works, and also to provide the intimate project specific details for the walls and ceiling systems to facilitate the seismic design.
  5. Other loads - Include details of any FF&E attached to the walls or ceilings, as the seismic actions are very much controlled by mass.

What does ArchiEng's seismic ceiling design example looks like?

This is an example we work for a client, in a retail store in Westfield. We worked with the client to ensure all seismic loads are designed and checked in accordance with AS1170.4 and AS 2785.

When you engaged us, you will receive 2 sets of documentation.

Firstly, the computation and calculation for compliance. This is a structural engineering report to prove that our design and computation complies with the required Australian Standard and NCC.

Secondly, you will receive full set of drawings where we show plans, elevations and details about how to construct seismic ceiling using the most efficient solution for your project. Depends on the situation, we may proposed multiple solutions for the client to choose from. The sample of seismic ceiling layout is shown as below.  

Speak to Our Specialist Engineer

Our experienced seismic design team and partners deliver designs that comply with the NCC for all non-structural building elements, including:

  • Suspended ceilings for solid plasterboard
  • Ceiling tiles with exposed grid suspension ceiling
  • Bulkheads
  • Feature ceilings
  • Internal and external partitions

When you engage our services for a Seismic Design, rest assured you will get a complete peace of mind on your project.

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