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ABN 57 410 620 309



from the

Proceedings of the
Third Triennial Conference on Buildings and
Structures subject to Ground Movement
Mine Subsidence Technological Society
Newcastle, 5th to 7th February 1995

This document is available to members of the society at

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Subsidence Technological Society. Data presented and conclusions developed by the authors
are for information only and are not intended for use without independent substantiating
investigation on the part of the potential user.
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favourably. It is a requirement that full and complete acknowledgement be cited when
referencing articles published in these proceedings.

ISBN 0 646 22573 1

A Society of the Institution of Engineers, Australia


Ph: 02 4926 4440 Fax: 02 4929 7121

A Reappraisal of Structural Design Concepts in areas subject to Ground

Appleyard Forrest Consulting Engineers Pty. Ltd.

The decade between 1985 and 1995 will be identified as being particularly significant in
terms of the emergence of a well defined theoretical framework within which a design
philosophy appropriate for the design of Buildings and Structures subject to Ground
Movement and other lateral forces has evolved.
The publication of AS2870 in 1986 represented the culmination of over twenty years of
extensive research in relation to footing and building design on a complete spectrum of
soil conditions, but particularly with regard to expansive and generally reactive soils.
The Newcastle earthquake in late 1989 focussed (or more correctly - refocused) the
attention of designers to the need for consideration of seismic loadings in the design
process. The 1979 Australian Standard AS2121 - Earthquake Code - was superseded
in redesignated form in 1993 as AS1 170.4. This redesignation correctly identified the
Earthquake Code as one of a suite of Loading Codes which are required to be taken
into account in the overall design process.
The publication of AS4055 - Wind Loads for Housing - in 1992 was also responsible
for making designers more aware of the necessity to consider wind effects in the design
of relatively simple structures.
Although wind loads are clearly not associated with Ground Movement, their effects
may be analysed in a complementary manner.
This paper examines commonality in the design process which results from the parallel
adoption of the Design Codes and Guidelines noted previously with regard to low rise
The paper emphasises that - contrary to anecdotal perceptions by the building industry the correct use of these Codes and Guidelines need not represent additional
construction costs.
It is submitted that - in terms of benefit to the overall community - correct
implementation of these current Codes is demonstrably cost effective.



The design processes appropriate for

low rise buildings (generally residential
and small commercial developments)

are recognised as processes requiring

particular attention, notwithstanding
misplaced opinions of the apparent
technical simplicity of such a design

Conference on buildings and structures subject to ground movements 5th-7th February 1995


The necessity for technically and

rigorous advanced design processes can
be appreciated when considered in the
following context:
1. Residential
consistently represented half of the total
value of construction in Australia
throughout the past ten-fifteen years
and there are no indications that this
pattern will not be continued.
2. The total value of non-residential
construction in Australia in the 19901991 year was $16.76bn and the total
value of residential construction was
$8.15bn (ABS 1991).
Unfortunately, it appears to be generally
accepted that construction practice in
the low rise building industry has been
poor. In the Newcastle Earthquake
Study published by the Institution of
Engineers, Australia in 1990, it was
noted that:
"Most of the damage in modern
structures occurred in masonry
construction. In some cases this was
exacerbated by poor standards of
workmanship and construction, matters
which need to be addressed by the
institutions and others. The bulk of
the damage could have been avoided
by greater attention to detail with
regard to tying and the transfer of
horizontal forces between the frame
and its cladding" (emphasis added)
"It is clear from the extent of damage
sustained by houses in Newcastle that
there is a need for some minimum
standards of earthquake resistant
construction for housing". (I.E. Aust,

The fundamental thesis of this paper is

that it is necessary, logical and cost
effective to apply an integrated design
approach to the design of low rise
This integrated design
approach should address the following
aspects, adopting - at least in the first
instance - the requirements of the
Australian Standards which are
immediately applicable together with
such other guidelines as may be
appropriate in specific instances.

AS1 170.2
AS1 170.4 -Earthquake Code.
AS1684 - National Timber
Framing Code.
AS4055 - Wind Loads for
AS3700 - Masonry Code.


AS2870.1- Residential Slabs and


Mine Subsidence Criteria:

There has been a recent publication by a

Joint Venture Partnership between
Standards Australia and Master
Builders Australia which is identified as
the Australian Domestic Construction
The original purity of this document as
a true "national" document has been
spoiled to some extent by state specific
requirements, a fate which has also
befallen the much vaunted Building
Code of Australia.
It will already have become apparent
that this paper has extended the scope
of the Conference Theme by reference
to Wind Forces. This liberty is a

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deliberate one, and has been taken for

the purpose of developing the theme
that a commonality of design thrust is
evident from a reading together of the
various design codes referred to


Low-rise Buildings:

A general definition of a low-rise

building has been given by Nawar
"Small buildings are assumed to be up
to say 7.2 metres 10% above ground
level and consisting of one or two
stories, excluding basement".

Whilst satisfactory as an exclusionary

definition, a more precise and rigorous
definition of low-rise buildings is almost
impossible. It is more beneficial to
identi@ the characteristics of low-rise
buildings as appropriate to their
response modes to lateral forces - both
ground induced and wind loads.
traditionally concentrated on gravity
load effects with the recognition of
soiVstructure interaction in terms of soil
reactivity being a relatively recent
The effects of loadings
induced by mine subsidence are, clearly,
restricted to those geographical areas in
which mining is carried out, and,
generally speaking, are not widely
understood by practising designers.
The effects of lateral forces produced
by wind and earthquakes, in the context
of low-rise-buildings, have only
received minimal attention to date.


Common Performance

A valid criticism of any attempt to uni@

design criteria for all lateral forces
would recognise that there are clear
differences between the frequency and
application of such forces.
The performance criteria for seismic
design procedures is that of life safety
for a rare event. It is assumed that:
the structure will remain elastic, or
nearly so, when subjected to small or
moderate intensity earthquakes that
have a high or moderate probability of
occurrence, and
the structure will respond in the
inelastic range by local yielding, but will
retain its ability to sustain vertical load
and be safe from collapse when
subjected to the most severe probable
This philosophy is echoed in the
Foreword to AS1 170.4:
"The purpose of designing structures
for earthquake loads is to:
a) minimise the risk of loss of life from
structure collapse or damage in the
event of an earthquake;
b) improve the expected performance of
c) (not relevant to general low-rise
On the other hand, the performance
criteria for lateral loads due to winds
i. the structure should suffer little or no
damage when subjected to winds
associated with a short duration
recurrence interval, and

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ii. damage from winds associated with the

design wind velocity should not pose a
threat to people in the building, nor
should the damage prevent the intended
fhction of the building from taking
place (AS 1l70.4,l993).
Any given building will almost certainly
be subjected to multiple occurrences of
the design wind loadings during its
lifetime. However, the same building
will be subjected to few, if any,
occurrences of the design seismic
Nonetheless, it is submitted that lowrise buildings which are well designed
and detailed for gravity loads can,
with further appropriate design and
minimal additional cost, satisfy the
design criteria for lateral forces
(seismic and wind) provided that the
controlled and supervised.
It has been shown that for low rise
buildings, earthquake loading may be
more or less dominat than wind loading,
depending on the local seismicity, soil
conditions and building geometry.
(Wind loading is generally dominant for
buildings greater than 10-15 stories).

The graph reproduced above is taken

from a recent paper (Hutchinson,
Mendis and Wilson, 1994) and clearly
illustrates this point.
It is appropriate to examine the
performance requirements of both
AS1 170.2 (Wind Loads) and AS 1 170.4
(Earthquake Loads) in demonstrating
this assertion.


Earthquake Loads:

AS1 170.4-1993 contains flow charts for

domestic and general structures
whereby it may be determined whether
or not a structure needs to be designed
for earthquake loads and, if so required,
provides guidance as to
determination of the design earthquake
loads to be adopted.
The definition of domestic structures
set out in clause 2.2.2 of the Code is
somewhat more restrictive than the
definition given at the start of this
paper. However, the variations are not
all that significant and may be ignored
for the purpose of the present
A full description of the Code
terminology is unnecessary for the
purpose of this paper. For the purpose
of development of the present theme, it
is assumed that the more extreme
design case should be considered, viz:

thereby requiring design as H3.

Bending Moment (kNm)

Comparison of Static Wind and Static Earthquake
Responses of 3 storey Building

Section 3 of the Code then applies with

the general requirement that all parts of
the structure shall be tied together both
in the horizontal and vertical planes in
order that forces from all parts of the
structure generated by earthquake

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actions are to be taken down to the

The principal design parameters
required to be adopted may be
summarised as follows:
Bearnlsupport and truss/
support connections to have
a minimum strength acting
along the span of the
member equal to 7.5% of
the gravity load reaction.
members (purlins, battens,
etc.) need not be designed
for earthquake loads but are
to be tied to their
supporting members and
designed as required for
other loads (such as wind).
External walls shall be
anchored to the roof and all
horizontal support.
The anchorage is to be
capable of resisting a force
of 10(aS) kN per metre run
of wall - say 2.0 kN/m for
the present purpose.
Internal (load bearing) walls
are to be tied to other walls
and horizontally restrained
at the ceiling and floor


Wind Loads:

AS4055 - Wind Loads for Housing - is

essentially a distillation of the provisions
of AS1 170.2 insofar as they are
pertinent to domestic structures.

As was seen in the case of AS1 170.4 ,

the definition of domestic structures
does not accord precisely with that
given earlier. Again, however, the
discrepancies are minor and have been
ignored for the present purpose.
A significant proportion of domestic
and general low rise construction
utilises timber (and, with increasing
popularity steel framing systems).
(These systems would also be identified
as the ductile domestic structures
covered by clause 3.3 of AS 1170.4).
AS 1684-1994
Framing Code) provides guidance for
Tie-Down ~ o r c e for
s wind speeds up to
4 1 d s . The contents in table 6.6 fiom
that Code have been reproduced but
modified to present the Tie-Down force
in kN/m both for wind speeds of 4 1 d s
and 4 4 d s .

41 d s e c
44 d s e c



The order of magnitude of these TieDown forces is of particular

significance when compared with the
anchorage forces prescribed in
section 4.3 above.

It is immediately clear that the previous

claim to the effect that structural
framing systems for ductile structures
which can resist horizontal wind loads
are similarly capable of resisting
horizontal earthquake loads.
AS 1170.4 groups reinforced masonry
domestic structures with ductile
structures, for which the foregoing
comments with regard to wind loads
remain true. The design procedures

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appropriate to reinforced masonry are

outside the scope of this paper. It will
suffice to add the comment that by
similar analogy, structures which are
designed in accordance with AS3700 Masonry Code to resist wind loads
appropriate to wind speeds of 41rnk 44mIs will also satis@the design criteria
of ASll70.4.


Earthquake Loads and

Wind Loads on
Unreinforced Masonry

AS 1170.4
masonry as a non-ductile structure
based on its history of performance
under earthquake loads.
Clause 3.4 of AS1170.4 sets out the
design parameters for horizontal forces,
base shear and torsion for structural
Non-ductile non-structural components
of domestic structures are required to
be restrained to resist a minimum force
of 1.8(aS) Gc, where Gc is the weight of
the component.
For the H3 and a s > 0.2 design criteria
adopted previously, a minimum force of
0.36 Gc would be applicable.
For solid walls constructed of either
200mm hollow concrete blocks or
270mm cavity brickwork, and assuming
continuous horizontal restraint at the
base and top of the walls, the horizontal
anchorage forces would be as noted
200mm blockwork
270mm clay brickwork


The order of magnitude of these

forces is again of particular interest.
Clearly, they are of the same order as
the forces derived in sections 4 and 5


Mine Subsidence

It has been suggested by others [Walsh

(1991) and White and Page (1991)l that
there is a common link between the
design of residential footings and
superstructures for mine subsidence
with design for reactive soils.
Indeed, in the paper presented to the
Mine Subsidence Technological Society
Second Triennial Conference in August
1991, White and Page described a study
aimed at producing a structure with
sufficient flexibility and articulation to
accommodate large ground curvatures
whilst at the same time providing
sufficient resistance to lateral loads.
It is unnecessary for this paper to do
other than note one of the conclusions
drawn by the authors of the previous
paper, viz:

"me resulting house designs that have

evolved from consideration of these
and other parameters are therefore
resistant not only to the normal dead,
live, wind and seismic loads, but also to
highly reactive soils and mine
It will be common ground at this
conference that mine subsidence design
criteria encompasses three (3) main


Ground Strains
Surface curvature, and
Residual tilt.

Conference on buildings and structures subject to ground movements 5th-7th February 1995


The design of footing systems to

facilitate relevelling of structures left
with residual tilt after mining operations
is now achievable but at a not
insignificant cost. Recent work in this
area has demonstrated that a suitably
designed Waffle Raft Slab can provide
sufficient rigidity to permit relevelling
by jacking procedures (Willey et a1
1993). It is the author's opinion that
such features correctly belong in a
specialised design area and should not
be included in the broader common
design approach being advocated in this
Design for the isolation of ground
strains and curvature, however, may
quite logically and justifiably be
provided for in the common design


Costs of Compliance:

requirements on designers or builders at

all but merely crystallised prior design
criteria. The 1979 version of AS 1684,
SAA Timber Framing Code contained in Appendix D - all of the tie down and
bracing philosophy which has now been
incorporated in the current version of
the same Code, and which is consistent
with AS 4055.
It is therefore submitted that
suggestions that compliance with any of
the design codes discussed in this paper
necessitate "additional" cost are ill



The design processes appropriate for

the design of low rise buildings in
Australia (both their footing systems
and superstructure) are now well

The introduction of AS2870 in 1986

was accompanied by expressions of
concern fiom builders and clients at the
"extra cost" involved.
proportioned in accordance with the
standard were invariably more robust
than (say) the generalised footing
dimensions advocated by the then
current Ordinance 70.

The magnitude of the forces associated

with ground movement (reactive soils,
mine subsidence and seismic effects) are
such that a common design and
detailing philosophy is appropriate.
Wind loads, whilst not related to
ground movement effects lie within the
same order of magnitude and may
therefore be included in such a
coordinated process.

There was, of course, no "extra cost" at

all. A total appreciation of the value of
the new Code required recognition that
significant savings in
terms of
minimised damage to structures needed
to be brought to account.

Correct interpretation of the various

design codes does not necessitate
additional expenditure on a per unit

The recent promulgation of AS4055 has

raised similar expressions of concern at
the cost implications of compliance.
The answer, of course, must be the
same. Indeed, it is the author's opinion
that AS 4055 has not imposed any new

In terms of societal benefit, the

adoption and correct application of
these codes will result in lower total
costs to the community.

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1. Australian Bureau of Statistics Cat. No. 8782.0, 1991.

2. Newcastle Earthquake Study , 1990, The Institution of Engineers, Australia.
3. Nawar G., (1988) "Performance Criteria for Small Buildings "in Proc. Workshop on
Serviceability of Buildings, Ottawa.
4. AS 1170.4-1993, Earthquake Loads, Standards Australia.

5. A Review of the New Australian Earthquake Loading Standard, AS 1170.4 (1993),

Hutchinson G.L., Mendis P.A., and Wilson J.L., in Aust. Civil Engineering
Transactions, Vol CE 36 No. 3.
6. AS 1684 - 1944, National Timber Framing Code, Standards Australia.
7. Walsh P.F., (1991) "Lessons for Mine Subsidence tiom Reactive Clay Design" in
Proc. Second Triennial Conference on Buildings and Structures subject to Mine
Subsidence, Maitland.
8. White R.J. and Page A.W., (1991) "Subsidence Resistant Masonry Housing" in Proc.
Second Triennial Conference on Buildings and Structures subject to Mine
Subsidence, Maitland.
9. Improved Recovery of Underground Coal Resources compatible with Surface Land
Use for Residential Development, (1993) NERDDP Project No. 1355 (Unpubl.)

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