Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94

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Engineering Structures
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/engstruct

On the role of equivalent strut models in the seismic assessment
of infilled RC buildings
G. Uva, D. Raffaele, F. Porco, A. Fiore ⇑
Dipartimento ICAR, Politecnico di Bari, Via Orabona 4, 70126 Bari, Italy

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 3 August 2011
Revised 17 January 2012
Accepted 5 April 2012
Available online 26 May 2012
Keywords:
Masonry-infilled RC frames
Seismic assessment
Nonlinear static analysis
Equivalent strut models
Collapse mechanisms
Existing RC buildings

a b s t r a c t
The participation of masonry infill panel to the overall seismic resistance of a framed building has a significant variation according to the specific mechanical characteristics of the infill, the geometrical distribution within the building and the local interaction among the panel and the surrounding primary RC
elements. Especially in the case of structure designed only for vertical loads, essence of the infill can
be decisive under an unexpected earthquake, providing an additional contribution to the strength and
to the stiffness. On the other side, this beneficial role is often accompanied by the modification of the global collapse mechanisms, with the appearance of brittle failure modes.
In the present paper, an existing RC framed building for which a good level of knowledge was available,
including a wide experimental database, was chosen as a case study. A reference frame was considered
for performing nonlinear static analyses aimed at investigating some significant aspects about the modelling of the infill and the relapse induced by the related computational choices on the structural
response. In particular, it is faced the sensitivity analysis about specific parameters involved in the definition of the equivalent strut models: the width bW of the strut; the constitutive Force–Displacement law
of the panel; the number of struts adopted to simulate the panel.
Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
In Italy, existing RC framed buildings are often characterized by
the presence of non-engineered infill panels which, according to
the current constructive practice, are in contact with the frame
(i.e. without special separation joints) and actually interact with
the primary structural elements.
The observation of the post-earthquake damage (e.g. Marche–
Umbria and L’Aquila earthquakes) and the experience developed
about the seismic assessment of existing buildings – especially
those designed for vertical loads only and with no specific seismic
details – has definitely demonstrated that infill masonry walls often behave like real primary elements, bringing a significant contribution to the seismic response [1]. In some cases, even in the
presence of a regular skeleton, an anomalous structural behaviour
(additional torsional actions; soft storey mechanism; etc.) can be
triggered [2,3]. The appearance of these effects, moreover, can be
sudden and unexpected, because of the abrupt brittle failure of
some panels, which modifies the original regular geometric configuration. It is evident, after all, that the contribution brought by the
infill walls to the overall seismic resistance is crucial, and should
not be neglected in the modelling.
⇑ Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 080 5963832; fax: +39 080 5963823.
E-mail address: andrea.fiore@poliba.it (A. Fiore).
0141-0296/$ - see front matter Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.engstruct.2012.04.005

Usually, in the design of new buildings, two different approaches are followed [4]. The first one is oriented at completely
neglecting the presence of the infill (which is considered unreliable
because of the uncertainties arising during the execution) and
thence encompasses the disjunction of the panels from the supporting frame. The second approach is antithetic, and stresses the
importance of the positive effects brought by the infill panels,
especially under severe earthquakes: increase of the overall
strength and stiffness, enhancement of energy dissipation. Infill
panels, according to this philosophy, are always connected with
the resisting RC frame by using specific devices (ties, belts, posts
or shear connectors). This idea is often followed also in the case
of existing buildings, by applying specific bandaging as a retrofitting technique, in order to encourage an integral behaviour of the
infill panels with the RC frame and avoid the early expulsion and
collapse of the infill.
The European Technical Standards (Eurocode 8 – EC8) and the
recent Italian Building Code [5,6], generally consider masonry infill
panels as non-structural elements, that not contributing to the lateral resistance. Both the Italian Building Code (Section 7.2.6) and
EC8 (Section 4.3) only provide some general indications: ‘‘ Infill
walls which contribute significantly to the lateral stiffness and resistance of the building should be taken into account’’. Anyway, no specification of the threshold level defining such a transition is
provided. On the other side, EC8, when defining a ‘‘non-structural

there is a certain caution. It should be remembered that. In the other cases.1.84 G. State of the art As already briefly discussed. it is the result of a large number of numerical simulations and parametric analyses aimed at identifying the value that could best fits at the structural response. Under progressively increasing loads. both horizontal and vertical) happens at the nodes (Fig. According to this model. One of the first authors. The calibration of the macro-models is particularly affected by the extreme variability of the mechanical parameters of the infill (non-structural materials are typically scarcely inspected and tested). increasing the seismic actions. The second approach. With regard to the modelling of the infill panels. simply defines bW as a function of the diagonal length of the panel. if not properly managed. the approaches pursuing the micro-modelling of the infill panels by means of a detailed FEM mesh are hard to apply. Equivalent strut model A particularly effective and widespread approach for representing the combined frame-masonry infill response under the seismic actions. Among these. and overall the RC structure is less stressed. In the paper. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 element’’ (Section 1. A brief review of the most representative proposals is now presented. even if the flexibility and simplicity of use often implies that the numerical results are not always clear and univocal. A significant example is represented by the case of an infill panel with an opening. the identification of the mechanical parameters is the most crucial point. the complexity of the models and the experimental investigation.2). in order to highlight between the methods. above all. It is particularly important to consider the level of degradation and cracking of the panel. was Holmes [15]. providing alternative and variations to his proposal. a detachment between the panel and the frame (coupled with a slip along the contact surfaces. to the presence of many factors of uncertainty. the masonry elements – although diffusely cracked – bring a significant stiffening contribution to the RC frame (Fig. a review of the most representative models available in the literature has been preliminarily performed (Section 2). there are two main approaches. both the characteristics of the frame and of the masonry infill. because of the high computational effort. Basically. mainly related to the lack of well established and reliable numerical models for the simulation and. defines the parameters of the equivalent strut on the basis of both the geometry and the mechanical properties of the infilled frame providing more refined numerical formulations. explicitly excludes infill panels. The consequent effects over the global response of the building are generally positive. which have no physical correspondence with the reality [13].1. we remember the definitions made by [16. It is thence reasonable to model the infilled frame as a system braced by diagonal equivalent struts that simulate the axial behaviour of the panels. The previous remarks are also confirmed by experimental studies based on pseudo-dynamic tests performed over scale models (1:2) of RC frames with hollow brick masonry infill [14]. In fact. point out some difficulties related to the variety and uncertainty of the parameters involved. respectively. where bW is assumed to be 0. The first one includes micro-modelling approaches. instead. can be used in order to provide an approximate estimate (in a conservative sense) of the elastic period of the infilled frame.20d. which provide an effective and operative application. giving more emphasis to the geometric aspects than to the mechanical ones.33d as the width of the strut (where d is the diagonal measure of the panel). In particular. 2.17]. the definition of the width bW of the strut includes besides the length d. it is worth mentioning the so called method of the ‘‘composite cantilever’’ [9]. Among these. 1a). 2. who dealt with this issue. The scientific literature offers a variety of models. The reference data about the mechanical characteristics of the infill walls have been extracted from an experimental investigation performed by the authors [7]. The model of the equivalent strut. in order to represent the initial stiffness of the . the latest research studies about the infill–frame interaction. and resorts to simple heuristic models – for which the solution is straightforward – in order to analyse the frame-infill system.25d and 0. pointing out some relevant questions about the sensitivity to the material parameters and the choice the modelling approach. is the most widely used. the masonry panel and their mutual connections are individually modelled and described by proper constitutive laws. even in the presence of higher stiffness the natural period of the structure is shifted towards lower values. thence. The comparative analyses allowed to investigate the role of masonry infill in the seismic behaviour of RC frames. 2. in order to take into account the actual variability of the mechanical properties of the infill. for which the model of the equivalent strut becomes completely abstract. since they are able to bear horizontal loads and must thence be considered in the design. 1b). because the axial stress in the corners that are still in contact with the frame becomes relevant. determining a stress increase in the panel. many research studies followed the footsteps of Holmes. A first one.  the number of struts introduced. usually defined as ‘‘macro-modelling approach’’. 1). and can only be applied by introducing an artificial adjustment of the mechanical parameters.1. by adjusting the parameters in the different phases of the loading history: the width of the strut shall be greater at the beginning. which will be discussed in detail in the following paragraphs. Afterwards. is quite effective and simple. even if the actual role of masonry infill in the lateral resistance is recognised. in the field of the nonlinear seismic analysis. Two configurations are analysed: the bare frame and the infilled frame. After all. but presents a number of critical aspects that. The present work is oriented to the macro-modelling approaches. Even if such a formulation seems quite simplistic. at the beginning of the 1960s. Uva et al. The first value. specific comments will be made about the parameters used in the analyses and about the quality of the obtained results. The second class. The fundamental factors that govern the equivalent strut model. With regard to this problem. The thickness of the strut is usually assumed to be the same of the panel. that is by far the most popular. for example.  the constitutive relationship of the panel. Choice of the strut section A wide literature can be found about the choice of the geometric characteristics of the panel in order to achieve the equivalence in terms of strength and stiffness. which can be grouped in two classes [8]. whereas different proposals have been made with regard to the width bW. a RC infilled framed building is considered as a case study. and the method of the ‘‘equivalent strut’’ (derived from the observation that the load path within the infill panel mainly follows the diagonal [10–12]). are:  the width bW of the strut. can compromise the reliability of the results. is the use of equivalent diagonal struts (Fig. in order to perform a critical comparison and deduce some observations about the modelling of the infill. in which the RC frame. He assumed the value 0. A significant reference frame is selected and modelled in the plane for the application of the nonlinear static analysis. The initial shear behaviour of the masonry infill is progressively modified.5. in particular. a significant part of the horizontal forces can be absorbed by the infill panels.

respectively. In the case of panels without openings. the expression of kP is provided by Eq. Uva et al.04 . He introduces the dependence of the strut size not only on the lateral stiffness of the bare frame. when only the central strip of the panel is actually working. providing a formulation in which the dependence on the geometry of the frame is introduced by means of the coefficient m: 1:5 4 EW t W H mIP EC HW !0:1 ð3Þ where m is given by:   6 HIT m ¼ 6 1 þ arctan p LiP ð4Þ H and L denote the height and the width of the mesh. instead. respectively. 1. performing laboratory tests on scale models (1:3) that reproduced RC frames and infill panels made by hollow concrete/brick masonry. a specific calibration of the bW/d ratio was made. IP is the moment of inertia of the column. as a function of the stiffness parameter k: bW ¼ 0:32d sin The width bW of the equivalent strut. A validation of the model was made on the basis of nonlinear FEM analyses and experimental laboratory tests. besides providing the stiffness and strength parameters of the infilled frame. In particular. in order to properly represent the response of the completely cracked panel under cyclic loads.85 kH > 7.47 0. undamaged panel.14 < kH < 7. that are correlated to the upper beam and to the adjacent columns. values higher than 20% are encountered. the following semi-empiric expression is provided: bW K 1 ¼ þ K2 d kH ð8Þ The values of the parameters K1 and K2 gathered in Table 1. the elastic modulus of the infill panel and of the RC frame.14 3. Recently. as proposed at the beginning of the 1970s [20]. The equivalent strut model. They obtained the following expression for the width bW of the equivalent strut. but also on the axial stiffness of the RC elements. is given by: bW ¼   2p cos h sin h þ kP kT 3 ð7Þ It is particularly interesting to mention the research study developed by Bertoldi et al. tW is the thickness of the panel. while kT is defined as follows: sffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi 4 EW t W sin 2h kT ¼ 4Ec IT HW bW ¼ ð5Þ p 1 þ 2 2 4kP 1 ! ð6Þ k2T Dawe and Seah [21] proposed a slightly different formulation based on the same parameters kT and kP: ð1Þ where EW and EC respectively are. Among these.01 0. this ratio is approximately 10%. (1) as well. [23]. K1 K2 kH < 3. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 Fig. h is the slope angle of the panel’s diagonal. [22] about the modelling of hollow block masonry infill. it shall be smaller [18] in proximity of the failure (incipient sliding of the bed joints or crushing of the corners). HW is the height of the panel. According to some authors. as a function of the above defined parameters.3 –0178 0707 0. by splitting the parameter k (cfr. In this approach. An extensive application of the method both to existing and to new buildings [8] allowed to appraise the value bW/d. The first author to work in this direction was Stafford Smith [10]. but also by the top beam. (1)). it is worth mentioning the research work of Papia et al. the dimensions of the strut are actually influenced not only by the adjacent columns. Klingner and Bertero [19] resumed the above-mentioned study. into two distinct factors kT and kP.85 1. In the presence of ‘‘weak’’ infill. The equivalent width is thence defined by introducing the elastic modulus EWh of the maTable 1 The parameters K1 and K2 of the model [22].85 G. a few innovations have been introduced in the evaluation of the parameter bW. who introduced on the basis FEM numerical analyses a parameter k expressing the relative stiffness of the frame and of the panel: sffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi 4 EW t W sin 2h k¼ 4EC IP HW bW ¼ 0:175dðkHW Þ0:4 ð2Þ Durrani and Luo [13] later modified the relation (2) on the basis of detailed numerical FEM analyses. Eq. In the case of frames designed only for vertical loads and filled with ‘‘strong’’ panels.

86 G. assuming a softening line that reaches a zero residual strength (Su. It should be also mentioned that the choice of the most appropriate model has to be made coherently with the specific reference experimental tests used in the calibration of the model. The second group. evaluated by the diagonal compression test Fig.1. The second corresponds to the formation of the equivalent strut in the panel. 2 (continuous line) has the advantage to improve the numerical stability of the analyses. we will refer to those proposed by: where with 1 6 z 6 1. In this regard. the parameters defining the different branches of the curve are specified:  Initial shear stiffness K1 of the uncracked panel: K1 ¼ GW tW LW HW ð13Þ GW is the tangential elastic modulus of the masonry infill. .2. according to the following expression: c bW ¼ d ðk Þb z ð9Þ are derived from the phenomenological observation of experimental tests in which scale models are dynamically brought to collapse. The third describes the softening response of the panel after the critical displacement Sm and is characterized by the K3 slope. Panagiotakos and Fardis proposed a model based on the equivalent strut idea. This is clearly evident when linear methods of analysis are used. 2. 2. and the consequent stiffness variation cannot be properly simulated by any of the above mentioned formulations. Actually. In other cases ((6)–(9)). Evaluation of the strength of the equivalent strut It is well acknowledged that the presence of the infill in a frame modifies the overall strength and stiffness of the system. the geometrical configuration. the height and the thickness of the panel. so that some authors [25] decide to neglect it. 2. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 sonry – evaluated along the diagonal (h = inclination angle) – and the Poisson coefficient m. that is composed by four segments (if no residual resistance is assumed. as long as the horizontal loads grow. considering the many factors involved: the variability of materials and constructive techniques that can be encountered. several models aimed at the appraisal of the hysteretic behaviour of the infilled frame can be found. HW and tW respectively are the length. dashed line in Fig. LW. the high degree of uncertainty about the mechanical parameters. instead. that  Panagiotakos and Fardis [24]. Uva et al. and the elastic soil is the infill panel. the relationship is calibrated in order to represent the full damaged state. according to different assumptions. in all the formulations discussed in the previous paragraph. and is characterized by a constant residual resistance. which will be used for developing the analyses on the case studies. by altering the seismic response. first of all. the mechanical properties of the infill. it is also possible to provide values of bW capable of simulating the stiffness of infill panels under cyclic loading. In some cases. Actually. the width bW of the equivalent strut is not related to the degrading cyclic behaviour of the infill panel under horizontal loads. The Force–Displacement relationship proposed by Panagiotakos and Fardis [24] for the equivalent strut model. the damage within the panel is taken into account. where the foundation beam is the column. obtaining the curve shown in Fig. In the literature. the proposed value of bW is referred to the first cracking condition of the panel ((2) and (3)). and affects the performance of the model. but also the damage level attained by the panels. after the detachment of the infill from the surrounding frame. The first segment represents the initial shear behaviour of the uncracked panel. At the end of this brief review.  Yielding force Fy corresponding to the first cracking of the panel: F y ¼ ftp tW LW ð14Þ ftp is the tensile strength of the panel. the response of the system becomes strongly nonlinear. For instance. 2). In particular. the results of the experimental tests show non-zero values of the residual resistance only for few samples.125: c ¼ 0249  0:0116m þ 0567m2 ð10Þ b ¼ 0146 þ 0:0073m þ 0126m2 ð11Þ EWh th k ¼ EP AC  H2 AP L þ 0:25 2 A T H L ! ð12Þ AP and AT respectively are the transversal area of the adjacent columns and of the upper beam. This is a crucial issue. whereas in the nonlinear field the question is more complex and the actual response is influenced by several factors. The last horizontal segment defines the final state of the panel. This is not an easy task. [22]. it should be specified that the first group of formulations recalled at the beginning of the paragraph is strictly oriented at modelling the linearly elastic behaviour of the panel. The adoption of the relationship shown in Fig. In fact. The basis of these models is referable to the analogy with the foundation beam on an elastic soil. the segments are reduced to 3). this class of models is particularly suited for analyses in the nonlinear field. Of course. the presence of openings. for which has been specifically calibrated. making it insensitive to the recalled factors. it should be observed that the critical elements in the definition of bW are. relation (8) can be conveniently used for the infill panels typically used in residential buildings. 3. disregarding the inelastic phase and the damage state of the panel. and are briefly described in this paragraph. proposing a constitutive relationship validated by experimental cyclic tests on scale samples of frames with brick infill panels. it is important to take into account the progressive degradation of the stiffness and strength of the masonry panel during the cyclic loading.  Bertoldi et al. In Fig. Among the different approaches. By resorting to nonlinear FEM analyses and specific experimental results.

assumed as 1. whereas in the column-beam nodes they are completely absent.3Fy. 0:6sm0 þ 0:3r0 K1 kH þ K2 ð24Þ rm0 is the compressive strength of the masonry infill. The horizontal component of the corresponding critical force is then simply obtained by: F m ¼ ðrW Þmin t W bW cos h ð20Þ The dimension bW is given by the Eq.1K1. – Sm = 0. sm0 is the shear resistance provided by the diagonal compression test.26] have simplified some of the parameters previously defined: – Fy/Fm = 0.87 G.  Displacement Sm corresponding to the maximum force: Sm ¼ Sy þ ð21Þ – Crushing of the corners: rW2 ¼ K2 ¼ 1:16rm0 tan h K 1 þ K 2 kH ð18Þ Some authors [25. In the analysis presented in Section 3 of the paper. 3. according to the constructive practice. which can be assumed within the range 0. In the proposed case studies. A specific value of the ultimate stress rw (which is assumed to be uniform both on the section and on the length of the equivalent strut) is associated to each of these mechanisms – Crushing at the centre of the panel: Fig.1 and 2. crushing of the corners. Fm  Fy K2 Fm  Fr K3 ð22Þ – Sliding of the bed joints: rW3 ¼ rW4 ¼ ð17Þ  Stiffness of the softening branch. which become particularly sensitive to brittle shear ruptures under horizontal loads. r0 is the average normal stress on the panel. the distribution of stirrups within the structural elements is typically poor and ineffective. [22] was obtained by analysing the seismic behaviour of 10 different frames having two bays with equal span and a varying number of storeys (from 2 to 24) of equal height. Sm = 0. four possible collapse modes of the panel are singled out: crushing at the centre of the panel. – Fr = 0. diagonal tensile failure. where. (2).28]. The detachment of the infill masonry from the surrounding frame determines a concentration of the load transfer in the area delimited by z. (8). described in the Section 2. The constitutive law proposed by Bertoldi et al. 3).1Fy. provided by the Eq. will be here adopted the formulation proposed by Klingner and Bertero [19].1.6.1% in the presence of openings.3. that affects the global post- . The brittle behaviour of the beam-column node.1.1. we will refer to the above mentioned assumption. Sy: Sy ¼ Fy K1 ð15Þ  Axial stiffness K2 of the equivalent strut: Em bW t W d ð16Þ in which for the width bW. as a natural consequence of the stiffening. In particular. rW1 ¼  Displacement at the yielding. is a simplified representation of the ‘‘non-structural’’ panel within the frame. The Force–Displacement relationship of each equivalent strut is similar to the one reported in Fig.  Residual force Fr in order to guarantee the numerical stability. as described in Sections 2. 4a). The main parameters to be defined are Km and Fm. by adopting the model of the equivalent strut for the panels.1. 1). 2. it can be assumed 0 6 Fr 6 0.2% in the case of masonry walls no openings.2. (8). the residual force is assumed to be 0.005K1 6 K3 6 0. but is not able to describe the above mentioned phenomenon of local interaction. The pushover analyses were performed both for the bare and for the infilled configuration. [22]. most of which are based on the use of multiple parallel strut [27.  Ultimate displacement Sr (or Su) corresponding to the residual force: Sr ¼ Sm þ 1:12rm0 sin h cos h K 1 ðkHÞ0:12 þ K 2 ðkHÞ0:88 ð1:2 sin h þ 0:45 cos hÞu þ 0:3r0 K1 kH þ K2 ð23Þ – Diagonal tensile failure:  Maximum force Fm. This issue is specifically dealt by many research studies that can be found in the literature. this is a critical point in the buildings dated back to the 1970s. confirm that the presence of the infill in the RC frame induces a reduction of the natural vibration period of the structure and a significant diminution of the horizontal displacements. defined by the Eq.1. which respectively are the maximum strength and the stiffness of the equivalent strut (Fig. fostering the shear behaviour of the structural elements. The equivalent model with a single strut (Fig. u is the sliding resistance of the bed joints. Uva et al. sliding of the horizontal mortar joints. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 The stiffness Km is given by (19): Km ¼ Em bW t W cos2 h d ð19Þ In order to evaluate the maximum strength Fm. 2. – Sr/Sm = 5. Force–Displacement relationship for the equivalent strut proposed by Bertoldi et al. The results of the research work of Bertoldi et al. Multiple strut models An important aspect is the question of the ‘‘local’’ interaction between the infill panel and the surrounding structural elements in the proximity of the nodes (see Fig.

Southern Italy). 5) and in elevation (no significant variations in the masses or stiffness are present. for a total thickness of 25 cm. except for the first storey. in the beams there are by £ 8 – stirrups. that are shown in Fig. whereas the remaining 50% quote is assigned to the central strut. where the spacing is 25 cm. for each of the lateral struts. In this way. The geometry of the columns is variable with the height. With regard to the concrete. A complete review and classification of the masonry infill panels was performed. 30  21 cm. The constitutive laws assigned to the multiple struts can be the same as the case of the single one. [29] and Crisafulli [28] have developed models based on three equivalent struts. where the spacing is 25 cm. and includes rectangular sections. Calabria. with brick or concrete hollow blocks. With regard to the identification of the mechanical parameters. the choice of the amount to be assigned to each strut significantly affects the shear forces acting on the columns. that is 4 m high. All the other floors present different types of beams: 30  50 cm. Verderame et al. and square sections varying from 40  40 cm to 55  55 cm. the stiffness is 25% of the total one. the beams are all 30 cm wide and 70 cm high. the in force seismic codes were the Law No.88 G. On site inspections allowed the identification of the reinforcements. which nowadays have been completely overcome both in the general philosophy and in the specific methods of calculation and assessment. laboratory tests on specimens pulled out from significant structural elements were performed (Fig. 3. the materials and the recurrent dimensions. 6b). The different formulations proposed in the literature for its evaluation are referable to the original one by Stafford Smith [10]: z¼ p 2k ð25Þ 3. (a) Equivalent model with a single strut. and the re-entrant corners or edge recesses are small enough). can be instead described. which represents the distance from the corner to the detachment line of the panel (see Figs. the critical zone endowed with a low ductility is clearly identified. 6a). This inventory embraces many different arrangements and textures. Actually. in which the main types of masonry walls used in Calabria in the 1970s were studied and subjected to experimental laboratory testing. Some examples about the distribution of the stiffness proposed in the literature can be mentioned. 4b and c). assuming that. and thence the final response of the structure to the horizontal actions.1974 and the Ministerial Decree 03/03/1975. (c) Equivalent model with three struts. it was possible to refer to the results of an extensive experimental investigation performed by the authors [7]. In order to evaluate the mechanical properties of materials. The yielding stress of the steel samples was found to be fy = 430 MPa. which is properly shared among the struts. With regard to the transversal reinforcements. The infill panels are made of hollow bricks. decreasing both the resistance and the ductility. Experimental characterization of the materials A specific and complete investigation protocol was carried out. elastic structural response of the frame. 5 for the case of the frame #X1 (to which the analyses and results reported in the following paragraph are referred). . and complementary on site non-destructive testing were carried out. 1a and 4a and b).2. there are £ 8 – stirrups. 80  21 cm. The main parameter of the multi-strut models is the distance z between the centre of the node and the position of the struts. uniformly spaced every 20 cm. Such a choice is not univocal. Different values are proposed by Combescure and Pegon [30. was fc = 22 MPa. precast lattice joists and hollow tile bricks. it was designed in the second half of the 1970s. The case study 3. and should be properly calibrated from case to case on the basis of specific analyses and considerations.02. 30  70 cm. The actual difference is only given by the dimension of the transversal section and by the stiffness. Short description of the building The case study is a 7-storeys RC framed located in a high seismic risk area (Province of Cosenza. which provided the general geometrical survey. for a total height of 21 cm. According to the acquired information. except for the first storey. and the typical interstorey height is 3 m. The floors have a mixed structure made up by cast-in place concrete. Approximately. including the masonry type detected in the selected case study. 30  60 cm. (b) Equivalent model with two struts. uniformly spaced every 20 cm.1. both for the beams and for the columns. showing that the shear force conveyed to the column is equal to 64% of the strength of the infill panel. with dimensions ranging from a minimum of 30  40 cm to a maximum 40  80 cm. except the ground floor. Uva et al. At that time. identifying the constructive features. In the columns. 64 of 02. the direct inspection of the hidden structural elements and a detailed experimental program. 60  21 cm. except the cantilever beams supporting the balconies that are 30 cm wide and 50 cm high. with a regular tapering. if 2 or 3 struts are introduced (Fig. The building is regular both in plan (with a symmetry axis in the X direction – Fig. it was found that the average compressive strength. the main in plan dimensions are Lx  Ly = 27 m  13 m. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 Fig. including diagonal compression tests (Fig. as well.31] on the basis of the results of detailed FEM analyses. 4. At the first storey.

(21) and (22)). In the SAP models.23 MPa (in Eq.3. 7a) and a double equivalent strut (Fig. we have: 3. (b) The diagonal compression test on a masonry infill sample. The case study: typical structural plan and reinforcements of the reference frame X1.G. sm0 = 0.28 MPa (in Eq. (24)). (23) and (24)).3. – Diagonal elastic modulus: Ed = 1495 MPa. 3.5 MPa (in Eqs. The presence of the infill has been modelled by using two different approaches: a single equivalent strut (Fig. Fig. (23)). (a) Extraction of a specimen from a RC column.2). 6.36 MPa. the classical parabola-rectangle diagram has been adopted for the concrete – – – – rm0 = 2. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 89 Fig. . u = 0. r0 = 0 (in Eqs.1. Uva et al. The numerical model The diagonal compression tests provided the following values: The numerical modelling has been performed by implementing proper 2D models of the reference X1 frame (with or without infill panels) within the solver ‘‘SAP2000’’ [32]. With regard to the parameters to be used in the model (described in Section 2. 5. – Tensile strength: ftp = 0.1. Constitutive models of the frame elements With regard to the constitutive laws for the materials. from which the transversal elastic modulus can be deduced: GW = 598 MPa. for the specific masonry type. 7b). the diagonal rods representing the infill have been oriented along the compression direction induced by lateral loads.

26]). Typical Moment–Rotation relationship for the plastic hinge. The rotations corresponding to the yielding moment My and to the ultimate moment Mu = aMy shown in the figure have been eval- 3. as already discussed in the Section 2. 3D view of the frame model with the single equivalent strut (a) and with the double equivalent strut (b).4 1. It is evident that the two formulations are in a good agreement only in those cases for which the behaviour is governed by the diagonal failure mechanism.1 1.1 1. which are in complete agreement with EC8. are listed in Tables 2 and 3. such a relevant discrepancy is ascribable to the different failure modes assumed by the authors in order to derive the semi-empirical relationship. for the two afore mentioned approaches.4 6.1 1.4 6.1. Panagiotakos and Fardis [24].4 6.4 10. 4. Both the mentioned approaches were originally defined and validated by their authors with a specific reference to the brick masonry. The nonlinear behaviour of columns and beams was described according to a lumped plasticity approach. Uva et al.1 10. 3 and 4).1 1. Actually. the nonlinear constitutive law assumed for the plastic hinges is the one proposed by FEMA-356 provisions [33] (Fig. in the present analysis. Fig.3. The nonlinear behaviour of columns and beams is described according to a lumped plasticity approach.2. the results obtained by applying the pushover procedure to the different models of the reference frame X1 de- Table 2 Force–Displacement relationship by Panagiotakos and Fardis [24]: constitutive parameters adopted for the 14 equivalent struts. 8.1 1. Fig.4 6.1 provided by the Italian seismic code [34]. Both the approaches provide the simulation of the ith infill panel by means of a single equivalent strut Bi (see Figs. the formulation is accurate and realistic only if the crisis of the panel is actually governed by a diagonal compressive failure.1 1. The thickness of the strut coincides with that of the panel. Constitutive modelling of the infill panels With regard to the masonry infill panels. the length is equal to the diagonal of the panel. Of course. In this paper.2 2. which identifies the distance between the end section of the element and the inflection point of the deformed shape (the length LV varies during the pushover analysis). Strut Fy (kN) Fm (kN) Fr (kN) Sy (mm) Sm (mm) Sr (mm) B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 516 473 450 400 454 403 457 406 460 409 463 412 466 415 860 788 751 666 756 671 761 677 767 682 772 687 777 692 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2.2. Nevertheless. whose constitutive parameters. It is well evident that the constitutive model proposed by Panagiotakos and Fardis provides struts that have a ‘‘strong’’ behaviour with regard to the ultimate strength. [22].4 6.6. introducing plastic hinges. under compression. instead. in a plastic hinge that is defined by a proper nonlinear M–/ (or M–h) relationship. determine the maximum strength as a function of the ultimate shear stress provided by the diagonal compression test.90 G. in which all nonlinearity is concentrated. a large difference between the strength of the struts has been obtained. as the results listed in Tables 2 and 3 show. It is worth mentioning that this formulation includes the shear span LV. Results of the nonlinear static analyses In this section. (8). corresponding to 14 struts.1 1. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 uated according to the equations C8. 7.4 6. in which the frame elements are elastic.4 52 52 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 . and the Force–Displacement relationship proposed by Panagiotakos and Fardis (with the simplifications [25. 9 for one of the struts (B1). The plot of the Force–Displacement relationships obtained by applying the two models is displayed in Fig. we have adopted as a reference the two following constitutive models: the Force–Displacement relationship by Decanini et al. 8).1 1.2. incorporates several possible collapse mechanisms and the final strength of the panel is identified by the minimum value of the corresponding ultimate loads [18].4 6.1 1. In the frame X1 there are 14 panels.4 6. after defining the section of the equivalent strut.1 1.4 6. whereas the width is obtained by Eq.4 6.1(a) and C8A. and all the nonlinearities are concentrated at the end-sections of the beams. In particular..4 6. while the behaviour obtained with the model of Decanini is definitely weaker. at the end-sections of the elastic beams. The approach of Bertoldi et al. and an elastic – hardening diagram has been adopted for the steel.7.4 6.1 1.

.6 24.G. are quite equivalent. The actual behaviour of the real structure is comprised within the shaded area.3 0.2 0. the corresponding values of bW have been calculated.2 1. the pushover curves corresponding to different models.5 19. The formulations by Bertoldi et al. since the experimental validation concerned infilled frames very similar to our case study.0 20. The mechanical characteristics of the materials have been deduced from the experimental research work described in Section 3. with the parameters listed in Table 2. the number of strut used in the model (single/multiple strut).9 25. Uva et al. anyway. For the different panels of the reference frame X1.8 35. The objective is to appraise the sensitivity of the structural response of the infilled frame with respect to three fundamental parameters: 1.2 1.9 20. it can be immediately noticed a strong variability of the results.4 28. The latter. it could be said that.2. The first formulation is that of Bertoldi et al. 2.9 38.1 1. performing the nonlinear static analysis and drawing the corresponding pushover curve. since they envelope all the elastic–plastic responses obtained by using the other formulations. and are listed in Table 4. even if the second one is less sensitive to the geometric variations within the frame. The above mentioned models have been further distinguished into two sub-models. 4. 10.1 are presented and discussed. 10 for the infilled frames can be intended as ‘‘limit’’ conditions.).4 2. the results show significant differences in the characterization of the nonlinear response.4 30. Pauley and Priestley and Kappos) provide results that are near to the mean value. the different formulations described in Section 2.1. 9. The proposal of Durrani and Seah is quite in line with the studies of Klingner and Bertero. are plotted: – bare frame model. The relationship proposed by Klingner and Bertero is particularly suitable for the application considered in the present research work. It is worth noting that the two pushover curves reported in Fig. 3. listed below. the geometry of the frame and the panel are fixed.0 1.4 1. but are penalised by a brittle behaviour.3 Fig.3 0. The influence of the constitutive law of the equivalent strut At the end of the comparative review of the formulations proposed in the literature for bW. the constitutive law (F–D) of the masonry infill panel. these proposals are mainly oriented to the appraisal of the infill effect over the dynamic overall properties of the frame more than to the detailed investigation of the collapse mechanisms.4 0.1 22. once the mechanical characteristics. which have been both validated by nonlinear FEM analyses. materials. so that it is really difficult to single out a recurrent value of the parameter bW. the second that of Klingner and Bertero. that the initial stiffness is greater for the models providing a wider strut (Dawe and Seah) than for the models with thin struts (Klingner and Bertero). as easily predicted.6 2.7 26.1 for the width bW of the equivalent strut are compared.4 0. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 Table 3 Force–Displacement relationship by Bertoldi et al.2 2. In general. two of them.2 1.3 0. which exhibits the features of a typical ‘‘strong’’ infill (Bertoldi et al. In fact. because also the stiffness of the beams is considered in addition to that of the columns. Those formulations in which the width bW is determined as an aliquot of the length d of the diagonal (Holmes. For each of the previously discussed approaches. and Papia et al. . The comparison among the pushover curves indicates.2 0.2 0.6 38.4 0. In Fig. which are mainly heuristic and include diverse – sometimes not comparable – parameters. – infilled frame modelled with equivalent struts in which the width bW is calculated according to the formulation of Dawe and Seah (7). Plot of the Force–Displacement relationship for the strut B1. the law defined by Panagiotakos and Fardis.2 1. while the panels modelled with larger struts reach a greater strength peak. the formulation of Kadir and that of Dawe and Seah provide the highest values. [22]: constitutive parameters adopted for the 14 equivalent struts.2 0. the width bW of the equivalent strut model. have a better performance with respect to the displacement ductility. By looking at the data listed in the table. Such a scattering is clearly related to the different nature of the models. 4.5 1.4 1.3 21.2 0. has been used. by differentiating the constitutive Force–Displacement law assigned to the single equivalent strut: .1. the different interstorey heights (and thence the different value of the diagonal d) and the variation of the columns and beams dimensions (and thence of the stiffness) significantly affects the results.7 1. Actually. and supplies fairly uniform results at the different storeys. Strut Fy (kN) Fm (kN) Fr (kN) Sy (mm) Sm (mm) Sr (mm) B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 160 138 162 140 163 141 165 143 166 144 167 145 169 147 201 173 202 175 204 176 206 178 207 180 209 182 211 183 70 61 71 61 71 62 72 62 73 63 73 64 74 64 0. scribed in Section 3. that could well represent the limit response of the frame.3 0. In particular. – infilled frame modelled with equivalent struts in which the width bW is calculated according to the formulation of Klingner and Bertero (2). For a same configuration of the masonry infill (geometry.2 33. With regard to the Force–Displacement adopted for the equivalent strut.. reaching a maximum percentage variation (64%) between the 1st and the 5th storey.) or of a typical ‘‘weak’’ infill (Klingner and Bertero).2 0. as shown by our numerical analysis the width bW has a relevant var- 91 iation from storey to storey. have been selected and used for a set of nonlinear static analyses that will be now discussed.. even if this does not anyway makes them more representative than the others. the infill panels simulated with thin struts have a ductile behaviour.3 1. Influence of the width bW As a first step. a specific model of the X1 frame has been implemented.2. but provides a value of bW that is very sensitive to the geometrical parameters of the infilled frame.

4 models have been considered for the pushover analyses. – Constitutive law proposed by Panagiotakos and Fardis [24] (the corresponding parameters are listed in Table 2). The specific mechanical features of the constituents of the masonry (brick and mortar) will then determine which of the mechanisms will occur before. It should be anyhow remarked that usually these failures have a secondary relevance. Bertoldi takes into account multiple failure mechanisms affecting the panel. without introducing the influence of others mechanical parameter of the individual constituents. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 Table 4 A comparison among the values of bW for the infill panels of the frame #X1 according to different models available in the literature (the reference to the equations of Section 2. As a consequence.1. [17] Papia [23] (9) B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 245 225 214 190 215 191 217 193 218 194 220 196 221 197 91 83 92 81 91 80 89 79 87 77 85 75 83 73 327 315 306 290 304 288 302 286 300 284 298 283 297 281 549 539 456 451 439 434 421 417 402 399 383 381 363 362 184 168 160 142 162 143 163 145 164 146 165 147 166 148 239 216 296 254 281 241 258 222 234 201 210 180 184 157 208 207 86 101 84 99 82 96 80 94 77 91 75 88 147 135 128 114 129 115 130 116 131 117 132 117 133 118 284 255 238 212 239 213 239 214 240 214 241 215 241 215 Fig. Influence of bW on the pushover curves. the peak strength is 75% lower.3. Uva et al. instead. The resulting pushover curves are plotted in Fig. is used. the pushover curves exhibit values of the stiffness and of the strength significantly lower than in the case of the Panagiotakos and Fardis constitutive law. 4. [22] (8) Durrani and Luo [13] (3) Kappos et al. exclusively focus their attention on the tensile strength in the diagonal direction of the panel. 11. The deviation is mainly related to the different definition of the parameters governing the branches of the constitutive law. as discussed in the previous paragraph. the most acknowledged methods available in the literature for the appraisal of the local infill–frame interaction . and the strength of the panel can be over-estimated. is assigned to the equivalent struts. Overall. When the Force–Displacement law of Bertoldi et al. possible early local failures are neglected. With regard to the models used for the definition of bW. the modification induced in the structural behaviour is observed also when the Force–Displacement law of Bertoldi et al. Strut Holmes [15] Klingner and Bertero [19] (2) Kadir [20] (6) Dawe and Seah [21] (7) Pauley and Priestley [16] Bertoldi et al.92 G.3. Influence of the number of equivalent struts In Section 2. [22] (the corresponding parameters are listed in Table 3). Fig. 12. – Constitutive law proposed by Bertoldi et al. Panagiotakos and Fardis. Fig.1. More in detail. 10.1 is reported within the round brackets). Comparison among the pushover curves obtained with 1 or 2 equivalent struts. 11 together with that of the bare frame model. while the stiffness is 30% lower. Influence of the choice of the constitutive law on the pushover curves.

. although related to a specific case study. In particular. but are penalised by a brittle behaviour. Uva et al. 5. Actually. The aim of the paper was to investigate the main questions regarding the modelling of infill panels embedded in RC frames to a representative case study. the results of the nonlinear static analyses performed for the reference frame X1 by introducing 1 or 2 equivalent struts are shown. and focusing the attention over a representative frame. The possibility of adopting three equivalent struts for simulating the infill panel has not been here considered. in the framework of the seismic assessment of existing infilled RC frames. It is interesting observing that such a collapse mechanism is attained regardless of the formulation adopted for bW (model by Bertoldi et al. When passing from the single to the model with double strut. the possibility of using multiple struts in order to model the formation of brittle shear mechanisms at the nodes of the frames. the peak strength is reduced by over than 50%. there is a significant level of variability between the different formulations that have been tested. the scientific community has been extensively involved in the investigation about the interaction between infill masonry walls and RC frames under seismic actions. 7b) and on the use of the Force–Displacement relationship of Panagiotakos and Fardis and we have defined a set of alternative models to be used in the pushover analyses aimed at specifically investigating the local nonlinear response of the columns in the presence of the panel. Actually. Formation of the plastic hinges and development of the storey mechanism in the X1 frame with infill panels modelled with 2 equivalent struts. 93 anism at the 2nd level. the formulation adopted for the width bW of the equivalent strut. This is in fact the only model able to include the brittle behaviour triggered at the nodes by the presence of the infill. fully satisfactory models are still not available. Despite the great interest and the wide literature. but since . 13). Finally. 13. 12. The critical review of many significant references and the experiences developed by the authors show that the numerical response of infilled RC frames under horizontal loads is very sensitive to the specific parameters assumed in the constitutive models. The relevant drop of the resistance is related to the formation of a storey mech- Fig. By comparing these results with the analyses previously performed with a single strut model. A sensitivity analysis aimed at assessing the influence of the above mentioned parameters has been performed by considering as a case study an existing building. At the nodal end sections of these elements a shear hinge has been placed in order to assess the possible development of brittle shear failures. whereas lower values of bW favour a ductile behaviour. we have selected some reference models based on the presence of two struts (Fig. Among these. and. instead. where the nodes suffer a local shear failure (Fig. a significant dependence on the type of failure mechanisms of the panel has been observed. if one decide to choose an equivalent strut model in order to represent the effect of infill panels. With regard to the specific model to be used for the multiple struts. the choice of the Force–Displacement law of the infill panel under horizontal loads and use of multiple struts for simulating the local interactions are crucial aspects that have been specifically investigated in the presented research work.G. Conclusions In the last few decades. Some conclusions can be drawn from the experience carried out. which is actually systematically observed in buildings designed according to obsolete rules. In Fig. because of the interaction between the RC columns and the infill panel. was investigated. The nonlinear static analysis of the reference frame was thence performed by using 2-struts models for the infills. by looking at the variability and dispersion of the results that is typically observed in this field. but we have deemed this question to have a secondary importance if compared to the role played by the columns in the seismic response of the frame. it is crucial to adopt multi-strut systems. With regard to the constitutive Force–Displacement law of the panel. the infill panels simulated with wide struts (high values of bW) are characterized by a greater strength peak. it seems evident that. The pushover curves clearly show the influence of the local infill–frame interaction at the nodes on the overall structural response. and providing a small reference framework for the highlighted problems. The analyses have shown that. model by Klingner and Bertero). we believe that they could be extended to a more general level. the influence of the local infill–frame interaction at the nodes on the overall structural response is clearly evident. for the same geometry and mechanical properties of the frame-panel system. In particular. it was not possible to state if one is better than the other. and is shown by a significant reduction of the peak strength. such a model would explicitly account for the potential presence of shear mechanisms also within the beams. The relevance of the different parameters involved was analysed. / Engineering Structures 42 (2012) 83–94 have been shortly reviewed.

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