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Earthquake resistant building construction

An earthquake is a sudden tremor or movement of the earths crust, which originates
naturally at or below the surface. The word natural is important here, since it excludes
shock waves caused by nuclear tests, man-made explosion etc. About !" of all
earthquakes result from tectonic events, primarily movements on the faults. The
remaining is related to volcanism, collapse of subterranean cavities or man-made
effects. Tectonic earthquakes are triggered when the accumulated strain exceeds
shearing strength of rocks.
#arthquakes of destructive intensity can be classified as ma$or natural
disasters confined to a relatively few areas of the world but resulting in considerable
damages to buildings. %uring the last of &!
century, four ma$or earthquakes of
magnitude ' or more on the (ichter scale have already occurred in )ndia. The
earthquake which occurred in ** with a magnitude of '.' on the (ichter scale
damaged hundreds of buildings. The +ahore earthquake of *, with a magnitude of
'.- on the (ichter scale resulted in the destruction of thousands of buildings. The *
earthquake at .hamoli district of /ttar 0radesh with a magnitude of '.1 in the (ichter
scale destroyed more than -!!! houses and partially damaged &2!!! dwellings. )n
3anuary &!!* a ma$or earthquake of intensity of '. destroyed several towns in 4u$arat
state with considerable loss of life and property.
%uring an earthquake ground motions develop in a random manner both
hori5ontally and vertically in all directions radiating from the epicenter. The ground
motions develop vibrations in the structure inducing forces on them. 6ence structures
located in seismic 5ones should be suitably designed and detailed to ensure strength,
serviceability and stability with acceptable levels of safety under seismic forces.

The satisfactory performance of a large number of reinforced concrete structures
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Earthquake resistant building construction

sub$ected to severe earthquake in various parts of the world has demonstrated that it is
possible to design such structures to successfully withstand the destructive effects of
ma$or earthquakes.
)n recent times, reinforced concrete buildings have become common in )ndia. A typical
(. building is made of hori5ontal members 7beams and slabs8 and vertical members
7columns and walls8 and supported by foundations that rest on the ground. The system
consisting of (. columns and connecting beams is called a (. frame.

9ig: &.*
7Total hori5ontal earthquake forces in a building increases downwards along its on
The (. frame participates in resisting earthquake forces. #arthquake shaking generates
inertia forces in the building, which are proportional to the building mass. ;ince most of
the building mass is present at the floor levels, earthquake induced inertia forces
primarily develop at the floor levels. These forces travel downward through slabs to
beams, beams to columns and walls and then to foundations from where they are
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Earthquake resistant building construction

dispersed to the ground. As the inertia forces accumulate downward from the top of the
building 7as shown in fig&.*8 , the columns and walls at the lower storey experience
higher earthquake induced forces and are therefore designed to be stronger than the
storey above.
2.1 R&les &' 'l&&r slabs and (as&nr) *alls+
9loor slabs are hori5ontal like elements, which facilitates functional use of buildings.
/sually, beams and slabs at one storey level are cast together. )n residential multistoried
buildings, the thickness of slab is only about **!mm-*2!mm. when beams bend in
vertical direction during earthquakes, these thin slabs bend along with them. <hen
beams move in hori5ontal direction, the slab usually forces the beam to move together
with it.

9ig: &.&
79loor bends with the beam but moves all column at that level together8
)n most of the buildings, the geometric distortion of the slab is negligible in the
hori5ontal plane= the behavior is known as rigid diaphragm action. After columns and
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Earthquake resistant building construction

floors in a (. building are cast and the concrete hardens, vertical spaces between
columns and floors are usually filled in with masonry walls to demarcate a floor area
into functional spaces. >ormally, these masonry walls are called infill walls, are not
connected to surrounding (. beams and columns. <hen the columns receive
hori5ontal forces at floor levels, they try to move in the hori5ontal direction, but
masonry wall tend to resist this movement.
%ue to their heavy weight and thickness, these walls develop cracks once their ability to
carry hori5ontal load is exceeded. Thus, infill walls act like sacrificial fuses in the
buildings, they develop crack under severe ground shaking but help share the load the
load of beams and columns until cracking.
2.2 %trength hierar,h)
9or a building to remain safe during earthquake shaking columns 7which receive forces
from beams8 should be stronger than beams and foundations 7which receive forces
from columns8 should be stronger than columns. 9urther the connections between
beams and columns, columns and foundations should not fail so that beams can safely
transfer forces to columns and columns to foundations. <hen this strategy is adopted in
the design, damage is likely to occur first in beams. <hen beams are detailed properly
to have large ductility, the building as a whole can deform by large amounts despite
progressive damage caused due to consequent yielding of beams. )f columns are made
weaker, locali5ed damage can lead to the collapse of building, although columns at
storey above remain almost undamaged
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Earthquake resistant building construction

9ig: &.,
7Two distinct designs of buildings that results in different earthquake performance8
-. %EI%.IC DE%I$N /HI#O%O/H0
;everity of ground shaking at a given location during earthquake can be minor,
moderate and strong. (elatively speaking, minor shaking occurs frequently= moderate
shaking occasionally and strong shaking rarely. 9or instance, on average annually about
1!! earthquakes of magnitude 2.!-2. occurs in the world, while the number is only *1
for the magnitude ranges ?.!-?.. ;ince it costs money to provide additional earthquake
safety in buildings, a conflict arises @should we do away with the design of buildings for
earthquake effectsA Br should we design the building to be earthquake proof wherein
there is no damage during strong but rare earthquake shaking. .learly the formal
approach can lead to a ma$or disaster and second approach is too expensive. 6ence the
design philosophy should lie somewhere in between two extremes.
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Earthquake resistant building construction

-.1 Earthquake resistant building+
The engineers do not attempt to make earthquake proof buildings that will not get
damaged even during the rare but strong earthquake= such buildings will be too robust
and also too expensive. )nstead, engineering intention is to make buildings earthquake
resistant, such building resists the effects of ground shaking, although they may get
damaged severely but would not collapse during the strong earthquake. Thus, safety of
peoples and contents is assured in earthquake resistant buildings and thereby, a disaster
is avoided. This is a ma$or ob$ective of seismic design codes through the world.
-.2 Earthquake design 1hil&s&1h)+
The earthquake design philosophy may be summari5ed as follows:
C /nder minor, but frequent shaking, the main members of the building that carry
vertical and hori5ontal forces should not be damaged= however the building parts that do
not carry load may sustain repairable damage.
C /nder moderate but occasional shaking, the main member may sustain repairable
damage, but the other parts of the building may be damaged such that they may even
have to be replaced after the earthquake.
C /nder strong but rare shaking, may sustain severe 7even irreparable8 damage, but the
building should not collapse.

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Earthquake resistant building construction

9ig: ,.*
70erformance ob$ectives under different intensities of earthquake shaking8
Aspects of design is to know the 5one to which this structure is likely to rest. %epending
upon these, precautionary measures in structural design calculation are considered and
structure can be constructed with sufficient amount of resistance to earthquake forces.
Darious measures to be adopted are explained point wise, giving emphasis to increase
earthquake resistance of buildings.
-.- "uilding 1lanning+
The records of various earthquake failures reveal that unsymmetrical structure performs
poorly during Thus after minor shaking, the building will be operational within a short
time and repair cost will be small and after moderate shaking, the building will be
operational once the repair and strengthening of the damaged main members is
completed. Eut, after a strong earthquake, the building may become dis-functional for
further use, but will stand so that people can be evacuated and property recovered.
The consequences of damage have to be kept in view in the design philosophy. 9or
example, important buildings like hospitals and fire stations play a critical role in post
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Earthquake resistant building construction

earthquake activities and must remain functional immediately after earthquake. These
structures must sustain very little damage and should be designed for a higher level of
earthquake protection. .ollapse of dams during earthquake can cause flooding in the
downstream reaches, which itself can be a secondary disaster. Therefore, dams and
nuclear power plants should be designed for still higher level of earthquake motion.
2. %HEAR 3A## "UI#DIN$
(einforced concrete buildings often have vertical plate like (. walls called shear walls
in addition to slabs, beams and columns. These walls generally start at foundation level
and are continuous throughout the building height. Their thickness can be at low as
*2!mm, or as high as -!!mm in high rise buildings. ;hear walls are usually provided
along both length and width of buildings. ;hear walls are like vertically-oriented wide
beams that carry earthquake loads downwards to the foundation.
9ig: -.*7;hear wall8
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Earthquake resistant building construction

Ad4antages &' shear *alls in RC building
0roperly designed and detailed buildings with shear walls have shown very good
performance in past earthquake. The overwhelming success of buildings with shear
walls in resisting strong earthquakes is summari5ed in the quote.
Fwe cannot afford to build concrete buildings meant to resist severe earthquakes without
shear wallsG.
HA(I 9)>T#+, a noted consulting engineer in /;A
;hear walls in high seismic regions require special detailing. 6owever, in past
earthquakes, even buildings with sufficient amount of walls that were not specially
detailed for seismic performance were saved from collapse. ;hear wall buildings are a
popular choice in many earthquake prone countries, like .hile, >ew Jealand and /;A.
;hear walls are easy to construct, because reinforcement detailing of walls is relatively
straight forward and therefore easily implemented at site. ;hear wall are effectiveness in
minimi5ing earthquake damage in structural and non structural elements.
Ar,hite,tural as1e,ts &' shear *alls
Host (. buildings with shear wall also have columns= these columns primarily
carry gravity loads. ;hear walls provide large strength and stiffness to buildings in the
direction of their orientation, which significantly reduces lateral sway of building and
thereby reduces the damage to structure and its content. ;ince shear wall carry large
hori5ontal earthquake forces, the overturning effects on them are large. Thus, design of
their foundations requires special attention. ;hear walls should be provided along
preferably both length and width. 6owever, if they are provided along only one
direction, a proper grid of beams and columns in the vertical plain must be provided
along the other direction to resist strong earthquake effects.

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Earthquake resistant building construction

9ig: -.& 7;hear wall must be symmetrical in plan layout8
;hear walls in buildings must be symmetrically located in plan to reduce ill-effects of
twist in buildings. They could be placed symmetrically along one or both directions in
plan. ;hear wall are more effective when located along exterior perimeter of the
building- such a layout increases resistance of the building to twisting
<henever a building pro$ect is prepared and designed, the first and the most important
earthquake. The unsymmetrical building usually develops torsion due to seismic forces,
which causes development of crack leading to collapse of a structure. Euilding therefore
should be constructed rectangular and symmetrical in plan. )f a building has to be
planned in irregular or unsymmetrical shape, it should be treated as the combination of a
few rectangular blocks connected with passages. )t will avoid torsion and will increase
resistance of building to earthquake forces
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Earthquake resistant building construction

5.1 F&undati&n+
); code recommends that as far as possible entire building should be founded on
uniform soil strata. )t is basically to avoid differential settlement. )n case if loads
transmitted on different column and column footing varies, foundation should be
designed to have uniform settlement by changing foundation si5e as per code conditions
to have a loading intensity for uniform settlement.
(aft foundation performs better for seismic forces. )f piles are driven to some depth
over which a raft is constructed 7raft cum pile foundation8, the behavior of foundation
under seismic load will be far better. 0iles will take care of differential settlement with
raft and resistance of structure to earthquake forces will be very large.
5.2 /r&4isi&n &' band+
); code recommends construction of concrete band at lintel level to resist earthquake.
The studies revealed that building with band at lintel level and one at plinth level
improves load carrying of building to earthquake tremendously. )t is suggested here that
if bands are plinth level, sill level, lintel level and roof level in the case of masonry
structure only, the resistance of building to earthquake will increase tremendously. Eand
at sill level should go with vertical band and door openings to meet at lintel level. 6old
fast of doors can be fitted in their sill band. )n case of earthquake of very high intensity
or large duration only infill wall between walls will fail minimi5ing casualties and
sudden collapse of structure. 0eople will get sufficient time to escape because of these
5.- Ar,hes and d&(es+
Eehavior of arches has been found very unsatisfactory during earthquake. 6owever
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Earthquake resistant building construction

domes perform very satisfactory due to symmetrical in nature. Arches during
earthquake have tendency to separate out and collapse. Hild steel ties if provided at the
ends, their resistance can be increased to a considerable extent.
5.2 %tair,ases+
These are the worst affected part of any building during earthquake. ;tudies reveal that
this is mainly due to differential displacement of connected floors. This can be avoided
by providing open $oints at each floor at the stairway to eliminate bracing effect.
5.5 "ea( ,&lu(n 6&ints+
)n framed structures the monolithic beam column connections are desirable so as to
accommodate reversible deformations. The maximum moments occur at beam-column
$unction. Therefore most of the ductility requirements should be provided at the ends.
Therefore spacing of ties in column is restricted to *!!mm centre and in case of beam
strips and rings should be closely spaced near the $oints. The spacing should be
restricted to *!!mm centre to centre only near the supports. )n case of columns, vertical
ties are provided= performance of columns to earthquake forces can be increased to a
considerable extent.
;teel columns for tall buildings ie buildings more than 1 storey height should be
provided as their performance is better than concrete column due to ductility behavior
of material.
5.7 .as&nr) building+
Hortar plays an important role in masonry construction. Hortar possessing adequate
strength should only be used. ;tudies reveal that a cement sand ratio of *:2 or *:' is
quite strong as well as economical also. )f reinforcing bars are put after 1 to *!
bricklayers, their performance to earthquake is still better. Bther studies have revealed
that masonry infill should not be considered as non-structural element. )t has been seen
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Earthquake resistant building construction

that in case of column bars are provided with $oints at particular level about '!!-?!!mm
above floor level at all storey should be staggered. )t may be working as a weak 5one at
complete floor level in that storey.
As such if few measures are adopted during stages of design and construction of
building their resistance to earthquake forces can be improved considerably. Though
buildings cannot be made *!!" earthquake proof but their resistance to seismic forces
can be improved to minimi5e loss of property and human life during the tremors.
5.7.1 HO3 TO I./RO8E "EHA8IOUR OF .A%ONR0 3A##%9
Hasonry walls are slender because of their small thickness compared to their
height and length. A simple way of making these walls behave well during earthquake
shaking is by making them act together as a box along with the roof at the top and with
the foundation at the bottom. A number of construction aspects are required to ensure
this box action. 9irstly connections between the walls should be good. This can be
achieved by 7a8 ensuring good interlocking of the masonry courses at the $unctions, and
7b8 employing hori5ontal bands at various levels. ;econdly, the si5es of doors and
windows opening need to be kept small. The smaller is the openings, the larger is the
resistance offered by the wall. Thirdly the tendency of a wall to topple when pushed in
the weak direction can be reduced by limiting its length-to- thickness and height-to-
thickness ratio. %esign codes specify limits for these ratios. A wall that is too tall or too
long in comparison to its thickness, is particularly vulnerable to shaking is weak
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Earthquake resistant building construction

(einforced hollow concrete blocks are designed both as load-bearing walls for gravity
loads and also as shear walls for lateral seismic loads, to safely withstand the
earthquakes. This structural system of construction is known as shear wall-diaphragm
concept, which gives three-dimensional structural integrity for the buildings.

Fig+ 7.1:RHC".;
7.1 %tru,tural 'eatures+
C #ach masonry element is vertically reinforced with steel bars and concrete grouts
fill, at regular intervals, through the continuous vertical cavities of hollow blocks.
C ;imilarly, each masonry element is hori5ontally reinforced with steel bars and
concrete grout fills at plinth, sill, lintel and roof levels, as continuous (. bands using
/-shaped concrete blocks in the masonry course, at repetitive levels.
C 4rid of reinforcement can be built into each masonry element without the
requirement of any extra shuttering and it reduces the scope of corrosion of the
C As the reinforcement bars in both vertical and hori5ontal directions can be
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Earthquake resistant building construction

continued into the roof slab and lateral walls respectively, the structural integrity in all
three dimensions is achieved.
%tru,tural ad4antages+
C )n this construction system, structurally, each wall and slab behaves as a shear
wall and a diaphragm respectively, reducing the vulnerability of disastrous damage to
the structure during natural ha5ards.
C %ue to the uniform distribution of reinforcement in both vertical and hori5ontal
directions, through each masonry element, increased tensile resistance and ductile
behavior of elements could be achieved. 6ence the construction system can safely resist
lateral or cyclic loading, when compared to other masonry construction systems. This
construction system has also been proved to offer better resistance under dynamic
loading, when compared to the other conventional systems of construction.
C&nstru,ti&nal ad4antages+
>o additional formwork or any special construction machinery is required for
reinforcing the hollow block masonry.
Bnly semi-skilled labor is required for this type of construction.
)t is faster and easier construction system, when compared to the other
conventional construction systems.
)t is also found to be cost-effective.
Ar,hite,tural and &ther ad4antages+
This constructional system provides better acoustic and thermal insulation for
the building.
This system is durable and maintenance free
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Earthquake resistant building construction

<.1 "ase Is&lati&n
)t is easiest to see this principle at work by referring directly to the most widely used of
these advanced techniques, which is known as base isolation. A base isolated structure is
supported by a series of bearing pads which are placed between the building and the
buildingKs foundation. variety of different types of base isolation bearing pads have now
been developed. 9or our example, weKll discuss leadLrubber bearings. These are among
the frequentlyLused types of base isolation bearings. 7;ee 9igure ?.*8 A leadLrubber
bearing is made from layers of rubber sandwiched together with layers of steel. )n the
middle of the bearing is a solid lead Mplug.M Bn top and bottom, the bearing is fitted
with steel plates which are used to attach the bearing to the building and foundation.
The bearing is very stiff and strong in the vertical direction, but flexible in the
hori5ontal direction.
Earthquake $enerated F&r,es
To get a basic idea of how base isolation works, first examine 9igure ?.*. This shows an
earthquake acting on both a base isolated building and a conventional, fixedLbase building. As a
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Earthquake resistant building construction

result of an earthquake, the ground beneath each building begins to move.
9ig: ?.* 7Ease isolation8
To get a basic idea of how base isolation works,
#ach building responds with movement which tends toward the right. <e say that the
building undergoes displacement towards the right. The buildingKs displacement in the
direction opposite the ground motion is actually due to inertia. The inertial forces acting
on a building are the most important of all those generated during an earthquake.
)t is important to know that the inertial forces which the building undergoes are
proportional to the buildingKs acceleration during ground motion. )t is also important to
reali5e that buildings donKt actually shift in only one direction.
Eecause of the complex nature of earthquake ground motion, the building actually tends
to vibrate back and forth in varying directions. ;o, 9igure ?.* is really a kind of
MsnapshotM of the building at only one particular point of its earthquake response.
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Earthquake resistant building construction

9ig: ?.& 7)solation bearings8
)n addition to displacing toward the right, the unLisolated building is also shown to be
changing its shapeL from a rectangle to a parallelogram. <e say that the building is
deforming. The primary cause of earthquake damage to buildings is the deformation
which the building undergoes as a result of the inertial forces acting upon it.
The different types of damage which buildings can suffer are quite varied and depend
upon a large number of complicated factors. Eut to take one simple example, one can
easily imagine what happens to two pieces of wood $oined at a right angle by a few
nails, when the very heavy building containing them suddenly starts to move very
quickly N the nails pull out and the connection fails.
Res1&nse &' "ase Is&lated "uilding
Ey contrast, even though it too is displacing, the baseLisolated building retains its
original, rectangular shape. )t is the leadLrubber bearings supporting the building that
are deformed. The baseLisolated building itself escapes the deformation and damageN
which implies that the inertial forces acting on the baseLisolated building have been
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Earthquake resistant building construction

#xperiments and observations of baseLisolated buildings in earthquakes have been
shown to reduce building accelerations to as little as *O- of the acceleration of
comparable fixedLbase buildings, which each building undergoes as a percentage of
gravity. As we noted above, inertial forces increase, and decrease, proportionally as
acceleration increases or decreases.
Acceleration is decreased because the base isolation system lengthens a buildingKs
period of vibration, the time it takes for the building to rock back and forth and then
back again. And in general, structures with longer periods of vibration tend to reduce
acceleration, while those with shorter periods tend to increase or amplify acceleration.
9inally, since they are highly elastic, the rubber isolation bearings donKt suffer any
damage. Eut what about that lead plug in the middle of our example bearingA )t
experiences the same deformation as the rubber. 6owever, it also generates heat as it
does so.
)n other words, the lead plug reduces, or dissipates, the energy of motion i.e., kinetic
energy by converting that energy into heat. And by reducing the energy entering the
building, it helps to slow and eventually stop the buildingKs vibrations sooner than
would otherwise be the case in other words, it damps the buildingKs vibrations.
7%amping is the fundamental property of all vibrating bodies which tends to absorb the
bodyKs energy of motion, and thus reduce the amplitude of vibrations until the bodyKs
motion eventually ceases.8
%1heri,al %liding Is&lati&n %)ste(s
As we said earlier, leadLrubber bearings are $ust one of a number of different types of
base isolation bearings which have now been developed. ;pherical ;liding )solation
;ystems are another type of base isolation. The building is supported by bearing pads
that have a curved surface and low friction.
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Earthquake resistant building construction

9ig: ?., 7spherical sliding isolation8
%uring an earthquake, the building is free to slide on the bearings. ;ince the bearings
have a curved surface, the building slides both hori5ontally and vertically 7;ee 9igure
?.,8. The force needed to move the building upwards limits the hori5ontal or lateral
forces which would otherwise cause building deformations. Also, by ad$usting the
radius of the bearingKs curved surface, this property can be used to design bearings that
also lengthen the buildingKs period of vibration.
<.2 Energ) Dissi1ati&n De4i,es
The second of the ma$or new techniques for improving the earthquake resistance of
buildings also relies upon damping and energy dissipation, but it greatly extends the
damping and energy dissipation provided by leadLrubber bearings.
As weKve said, a certain amount of vibration energy is transferred to the building by
earthquake ground motion. Euildings themselves do possess an inherent ability to
dissipate, or damp, this energy. 6owever, the capacity of buildings to dissipate energy
before they begin to suffer deformation and damage is quite limited.
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Earthquake resistant building construction

The building will dissipate energy either by undergoing large scale movement or
sustaining increased internal strains in elements such as the buildingKs columns and
beams. Eoth of these eventually result in varying degrees of damage. ;o, by equipping a
building with additional devices which have high damping capacity, we can greatly
decrease the seismic energy entering the building, and thus decrease building damage.
Accordingly, a wide range of energy dissipation devices have been developed and are
now being installed in real buildings. #nergy dissipation devices are also often called
damping devices. The large number of damping devices that have been developed can
be grouped into three broad categories:
9riction %ampersL these utili5e frictional forces to dissipate energy
Hetallic %ampersL utili5e the deformation of metal elements within the damper
Disco elastic %ampersL utili5e the controlled shearing of solids
Discous %ampersL utili5ed the forced movement 7orificing8 of fluids within the
9luid Discous %ampers
Bnce again, to try to illustrate some of the general principles of damping devices, weKll
look more closely at one particular type of damping device, the 9luid Discous %amper,
which is one variety of viscous dampers that has been widely utili5ed and has proven to
be very effective in a wide range of applications
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Earthquake resistant building construction

%amping %evices and Eracing ;ystems

9ig: ?.-
%amping devices are usually installed as part of bracing systems. 9igure ?.- shows one
type of damperLbrace arrangement, with one end attached to a column and one end
attached to a floor beam. 0rimarily, this arrangement provides the column with
additional support.
Host earthquake ground motion is in a hori5ontal direction= so, it is a buildingKs
columns which normally undergo the most displacement relative to the motion of the
ground. 9ig ?.- also shows the damping device installed as part of the bracing system
and gives some idea of its action.
9ollowing the devastating earthquakes in Turkey this summer that killed
as many as &!,!!! people and in$ured another &?,!!!, images of survivors trapped
beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings appeared daily in news reports worldwide.
>ow a >orth .arolina ;tate /niversity engineer is developing a new type of concrete to
help prevent such scenes from happening again. Eecause itKs reinforced with mats made
of thousands of stainless steel fibers in$ected with special concrete slurry, the new
material, called ;lurry )nfiltrated Hat .oncrete 7;)H.B>8, can sustain much higher
stress loads and deformations than traditional concrete. Tests show that concrete
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Earthquake resistant building construction

buildings or bridges reinforced with ;)H.B> are far more earthquake-resistant and less
likely to break apart in large chunks that fall off and cause in$ury to people below.
)f extreme stresses cause ;)H.B> to fail, its mass of fibers and concrete
doesnKt collapse in the same way traditional concrete does. )nstead of large chunks
breaking and falling from a structure, the material crumbles into small, harmless flakes.
This controlled form of failure is a key advantage of ;)H.B>. Eecause failure is
inevitable in all structures, engineers must design buildings and bridges to fail in the
safest way. )n conventional concrete structures, this is achieved through the use of steel
reinforcing bars -- rebars -- that give the concrete tensile strength it would otherwise
lack. 9or safety and design reasons, the concrete is designed so that the rebars will fail
before the concrete does. /nfortunately, many structures have not been designed to
sustain the powerful stresses caused by earthquakes. <hen such extreme stresses occur,
the concrete can crack, explode and break away from the rebars, causing the structure to
collapse. Ey contrast, failure of ;)H.B> would present little danger to people or
property below.
#arthquakes are not common phenomena in most parts of the world. 6ence, houses in
most rural areas are not built to withstand seismic forces, resulting in heavy causalities
even in moderate quakes. )n some parts of the world, however, where earthquakes are
common, people have incorporated the critical elements of quake-resistance in their
traditional construction method. Traditional house building techniques have successfully
demonstrated, during past earthquakes in the 6imalayan region, that there is inherent
after component associated with the constructional design. This was found during the
*!2 Iangra earthquake, the traditional Iat-Ii Iunni houses in Iullu valley made up
of timber remained unaffected. The %ha$$i-%iwari buildings remained intact in the *112
;rinagar earthquake. ;imilarly, in /ttarkashi the traditional *!! years old multistoried
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Earthquake resistant building construction

buildings called 0herols have incorporated basic features of earthquake resistance.

9ig: .* 7Traditional building8
>.1 The /her&ls &' Uttarkashi
0herols are old traditionally built multistoried structures found in /ttarkashi district.
The main materials of constructions are stone and wood with mud mortar. The
construction is essentially coarse-rubble masonry type. The various earthquake resistant
features in these types of houses are the use of wooden tie-bands as beams and vertical
timber columns as pins to tie the inside and outside <yeths of a wall. +ong stones with
flat surfaces are distributed in the walls to make the loads vertical in the wall units and
minimi5e the tendency of the wall stones to push or run outward. Horeover, to
distribute some of the seismic load vertically corner reinforcements are provided by the
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Earthquake resistant building construction

use of wooden blocks and long flat stones. Also, the height of the floor is kept low and
there are minimum numbers of openings, for keeping the centre of gravity low and also
for the insulation purposes.

9ig: .& partial collapse of stone
masonry walls during ** /ttarkashi
>.2 The Dha66i?Di*ari buildings &'
The %ha$$i-%iwari buildings were the one that survived when part of the palace and
other massive old building collapsed in the ;rinagar quake of *112. The most
significant aspect of the %ha$$i-%iwari buildings is the combination of the building
materials used. These materials are locally available and have been used for generations.
The basic elements in these buildings are the load bearing masonry piers and infill
walls. There are wooden tie-bands at each floor level. The foundation consists of rubble
masonry with lime mortar whereas= mud mortar is used for the rest of the structure.
The infill materials are usually abode bricks bonded with mud mortar. The wooden
bands tie the walls of the structure with the floors and also impart ductility to a structure
that is otherwise brittle. The unreinforced masonry walls have stiffness but not strength.
)n the absence of strength, flexibility is essential for quake resistance. 6ere, the desired
flexibility is provided by the combination of wood and unreinforced masonry laid in a
wear mortar. The wooden beams tie the whole house together and ensure that the entire
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Earthquake resistant building construction

building sways together as one unit in an earthquake
>.- The !at?!i? !unni "uildings &' !ulu 8alle)+
;imilar to the 0herols and the %ha$$i-%iwari buildings, the Iat-Ii-Iunni or timber
cornered buildings suffered minimal damage in the epicentral tract of Iulu Dalley
during the *!2 Iangra earthquake. This structure is almost identical to the 0herols of
/ttarkashi. )t combines the weight, solidity and coolness of a stone building with the
flexibility and earthquake-resisting qualities of a wooden one. 6ere the wood bonding
takes place at vertical intervals of three to five feet. Two parallel beams are laid along
with layer of masonry, one on the inside and one on the outside. At the end of one wall
the beams cross them on the walls at right angle, and the wooden pins hold the crossing
together. .rossties of wood similarly hold the two parallel beams in position at intervals
along their length.
>.2 uin,ha earthquake resistant buildings+
9ollowing a devastating earthquake in the Alto Hayo region of 0eru in *! )T%4Ks
;helter 0rogramme became involved in a ma$or reconstruction pro$ect to build
earthquake resistant housing using Kimproved quinchaK - a timber and lattice frame
design with an earth infill - based on traditional technologies. Traditional quincha
building technology results in a flexible structure with an inherent earthquake
resistance. )t has been used in parts of 0eru for many centuries. Traditionally, a quincha
house would have a round pole set directly in the ground= in filled with smaller wooden
poles and interwoven to form a matrix, which is then plastered with one or more layers
of earth. )T%4 worked closely with builders, householders and community
organisations in Alto Hayo to introduce improved, earthquake resistant building
technology - quincha me$orada.
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Earthquake resistant building construction

9ig: ., 7Puincha building8
)mproved quincha had the following characteristics over and above traditional
Q .oncrete foundations for greater stability.
Q <ooden columns treated with tar or pitch to protect against humidity, concreted
into the ground with nails embedded in the wood at the base to give extra anchorage.
Q /sing concrete wall bases to prevent humidity affecting the wood and the canes in
the walls.
Q .areful $ointing between columns and beams to improve structural integrity.
Q .anes woven in a vertical fashion to provide greater stability.
Q +ightweight metal sheet roofing to reduce danger of falling tiles.
Q >ailing roofing material to roof beams= tying of beams and columns with roof
There is a lack of awareness in the earthquake disaster mitigations. Avoiding
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Earthquake resistant building construction

non- engineered structures with unskilled labour even in unimportant temporary
constructions can help a great way
;tatewide awareness programmes have to be conducted by fully exploiting the
advancement in the information technology.
/rgent steps are required to be taken to make the codal provisions regarding
earthquake resistant construction undebatable.
The builders and constructors should adopt the codal provisions in all the future
construction, as prevention is better than cure. Bn the light of avoiding the risk,
this may not be an impossible task as earthquake resistant measures in building
involves only &"-'" additional cost depending on the type of building.
1.Ch&1ra. RA !u(ar. RA Cha*la. !.%A T./. %inghB FTraditional #arthquake (esistant
6ousesG, 6oney Eee, DB+ **R DB+ *&, Bct &!!!->ov &!!*.
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Earthquake resistant building construction

&. #arthquake Tip 1, F<hat is seismic design philosophyAG )ndian .oncrete 3ournal, 3an
&!!-, DB+ &.
,.Asena %&)lukA Ce)ne1 0esi( Har(anka)aB G#xamination of #arthquake (esistant
%esign in the #ducation of Architecture Briginal (esearch ArticleG, 0rocedia - ;ocial
and Eehavioral ;ciences, Dolume 2*, &!*&, 0ages *!1!-*!1'
-.http:Oearthquake resistant building
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