At WSP Research we are committed to making the world work better. We provide a broad range of high quality research, specialist consultancy and laboratory services to improve the design and performance of infrastructure for commercial and government clients.

We provide a broad range of high quality research, specialist consultancy and laboratory services to improve the design and performance of infrastructure for commercial and government clients.

We have a proud history dating back more than 50 years to the New Zealand Ministry of Works when we provided experimental research that informed the design and construction of major national infrastructure projects, such as hydroelectric power schemes and state highways.

Today our researchers work in multi-disciplinary teams to address challenges as diverse as transportation safety, road performance, and the resilience of communities and businesses to major natural hazards.

We also provide specialist consultancy services and materials testing and analysis for engineering construction materials. Our management and operating practices are accredited to the International Quality Management System ISO 9001, and many of our laboratory services have ISO 17025 accreditation. Our team includes engineers, chemists, physicists, materials scientists, environmental scientists, geographers and behavioural scientists.

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Managing Wind Effects

The testing that informs that design takes place in WSP' wind tunnel in a Lower Hutt warehouse where air gets blown at controlled speeds towards a styrofoam model of Wellington's city centre covered in bran flakes. The movement of the flakes identifies pockets of turbulence caused by a new development.

For Wellington developers a wind tunnel test for building designs tends to cost between $20,000 and $25,000.

Engineer Neil Jamieson estimated he runs wind tunnel tests for 30 proposed developments a year.

The tests have been used to evaluate everything from cars, airplanes, spaceships and buildings, to Blunt Umbrellas.

Innovative Asphalt - Low Noise and Long-Life

Although the safety and noise-reduction properties of open graded porous asphalt (OGPA) are well documented, binder oxidation is a major problem and is the principal factor governing the ultimate life of porous asphalt. The result is a rough, uneven riding surface. In New Zealand, the average lifetime of OGPA is very short, in many cases only seven or eight years.

WSP collaborated to produce a long-life (30 years plus) surfacing material with low maintenance requirements and low noise generation. Trials on state highways, and the Auckland Harbour Bridge were successful and the product is now in use where quality low-noise roads are required.

NZTA estimates that their annual maintenance budget for low noise pavements will reduce to 1/6 of current levels where the innovative asphalt is used.

WSP put NZ on the world stage by undertaking this research as part of a larger international research programme conducted under the auspices of the OECD. The Dutch laid their first epoxy porous asphalt trial after visiting New Zealand to see how it was done, and the American Federal Highways Administration (and OECD partner) reopened research on the topic after having heard about the New Zealand approach.

Green Roads

In 2016 the Tūhoe Trust commissioned WSP Research to investigate potential options for the resurfacing and maintenance of the section of State Highway 38, which is largely unsealed as it runs through Te Urewera.

The road is essential for maintaining connectivity and services to an isolated rural community and for the development of the tourism industry in Te Urewera. Eschewing traditional construction methods, the Tūhoe Trust challenged WSP to innovate an environmentally-friendly and sustainable approach in keeping with the values of their people.

The world-first solution is at the cutting-edge of innovative sustainability and has proved to be successful in field trials.
It uses a tree resin, a natural by-product of the wood pulping process used in pulp and paper manufacturing, which is used in a novel way to bind the gravel and keep it in place.

The result is a solution that suppresses dust – an issue on gravel roads as it obscures visibility – with waterproofing attributes that reduces the occurrence of potholes and corrugations.