The University of Canterbury is simulating earthquakes in its laboratory in a bid to find safer post-quake building designs.
A research team has shaken a model of a two-storey concrete structure at a similar strength to the February 2011 quake.
Civil and Natural Resources Engineering professor Stefano Pampanin says the experiment will look at new designs and technology for buildings to withstand earthquakes.
Professor Pampanin says they will also test sections of the Grand Chancellor Hotel and the PricewaterhouseCoopers buildings, demolished following the quakes, to see how they performed.
He says it is expected new buildings, made of concrete, steel, timber or a combination of the materials, will withstand strong earthquakes and need only minimal repairs.