Andrew Charleson

Research interests

Relationship between structure and architecture. Seismic design of buildings including those in developing countries.


BE (Hons)(Civil), ME (Dist) Cant

Research interests

My research interests fall into three main fields:

  • how structures of buildings can enrich their architecture
  • earthquake engineering and architecture
  • earthquake damage mitigation in developing countries.

Current research projects

I am currently working on three research projects that investigate:

  • how structures of buildings can help convey architectural concepts and ideas and thereby improve architectural quality
  • seismic isolation of buildings from an architectural perspective
  • improving seismic performance of low-cost housing in developing countries.

My book Structure as Architecture: a source book for architects and structural engineers was published by Elsevier in 2005 but is now out of print. Currently, I am working on a Second Edition which involves re-orientating the book towards the design aspirations of architects. Research is underway on several new chapters that explore how structure can help express frequently valued contemporary architectural concepts and qualities. For example, one chapter investigates how structure does, and could, contribute to conveying ideas somewhere on the spectra of order – chaos, stability – instability, static – dynamic and grounded – floating.

Seismic isolation of buildings is a long-standing interest. I am working with a colleague from the University of Mendoza, Argentina, on a book for architects that will cover all relevant aspects of this technology.

As far as low-cost housing is concerned, my research focuses on reinforcing adobe houses with straps cut from the treads of used car tyres. The findings from this research have been written up as a construction manual. It, and videos of full-scale testing can be seen at The next step in the project is to arrange a pilot project, where the technology can be applied in a developing country that is seismically active and uses adobe house construction, like Peru and many other countries.

Selected publications

Books and monographs

Charleson, A. W., Structure as Architecture: a Sourcebook for Architects and Engineers, Architectural Press, Oxford, 2005, 226 pp. (As at 10-2012 this book has been translated and published in Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Persian and Portuguese.)

Charleson, A. W. (ed.) Architectural design for earthquake: a guide to the design of non-structural elements. New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 2007, 94 pp.

Charleson, A. W., Seismic design for architects: outwitting the quake, Architectural Press, Oxford, Sept. 2008, 280 pp.

Charleson, A. W. 2010. Earthquake reinforcement for earthen houses with straps cut from used tyres. World Housing Encyclopedia, 50 pp.

london buildings
Images of buildings in London, UK, recently studied in preparation for the Second Edition of Structure as Architecture.

Other research papers

Charleson, A. W and Blondet, M. 2012. Seismic reinforcement for adobe houses using straps cut from used car tires. Earthquake Spectra, 28:2, pp. 511 – 531.

Charleson, A. W. and Allaf, N. 2012. Costs of base-isolation and earthquake insurance in New Zealand. Proceedings of the conference of the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering, April, Paper no. 04, 8 pp.

Greene, M. and Charleson, A. W., 2012. The World Housing Encyclopedia: a global resource on construction technologies.Proceedings of the15th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Lisbon, Portugal, 24-28 Sept. Paper 3310.

Sutjiadi, H Y., Charleson, A W., & Baird, G. (2010). The Structural Design of a Double-Layer Space Structure for a 100-Storey Building. High Rise Towers and Tall Buildings 2010 - Design and Construction of Safe and Sustainable High Rise Structures. Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Konrad Zilch. (pp. 78-79). Munich, Germany.

Charleson, A W. (2009). Comparison between Contemporary Architectural Form in Cities with High Versus Low Seismicity. Earthquake Spectra. Vol. 25, No. 1. (pp. 1-15).

Charleson, A W., & Pirie, S. (2009). An investigation of structural engineer-architect collaboration. Journal of the Structural Engineering Society New Zealand. Vol. 22, No.1. (pp. 97-104).

Charleson, A W. (2009, March). Research on used car tyre strap reinforced adobe construction in Peru. Proceedings of the conference of the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering. (pp. 10).

Full list of Publications

seismic isolation
Images of seismic isolation.
adobe and car strap
Images of adobe and car tyre strap research.
student work
Image of students engaged in a "speed crit" (left) and a student project on structural creativity by Thomas Seear-Budd (right).