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Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890

15th International scientific conference “Underground Urbanisation as a Prerequisite for

Sustainable Development”

The influence of configuration on to the seismic resistance of a

Jasmina Dražić a, Nikolai Vatin b,*
University of Novi Sad, Trg Dositeja Obradovića 5, Novi Sad, 21000, Serbia
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Polytechnicheskaya 29, St. Petersburg, 195251, Russia


Configuration of a building, achieved by coordinating the demands of an urban project and designer’s style, and conditioned by
the building’s function (interior design) and the choice of a structural system, has an effect on the building behaviour under
earthquake. The need for greater freedom in design results in solutions that present a serious influence onto the seismic
performances of a building. Consequences that can lead all the way to collapse demand for overall analyses and structural
measures to achieve the set reliability degree of a building. Building configuration is defined in the initial design phases, when it
is possible to evaluate the regularity of a structure and observe the influence of the proposed design solution onto the structural
treatment (structure analysis, dimensioning, and modelling). It implies the design of regular structures (configuration) when it is
necessary to provide the most economic design, building, and maximum predictability of the demanded seismic performances.
Designing irregular structures, on the other hand, demands for a structural designer to be included from the initial stage of a
conceptual design, the ability of an architect to accept necessary structural measures for seismic resistance and their integration
into the design in order to reduce the consequences of irregularity and achieve the demanded aesthetic qualities without
endangering the building integrity.
© 2016
© 2016TheTheAuthors.
Authors. Published
Published by Elsevier
by Elsevier Ltd. is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
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Peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 15th International scientific conference “Underground
Peer-review as aresponsibility
under PrerequisiteoffortheSustainable Development.
scientific committee of the 15th International scientific conference “Underground Urbanisation as a
Prerequisite for Sustainable Development
Keywords: innovative materials for seismic design, configuration, materials science, seismic resistance, regularity, seismic architecture;

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +7-921-964-37-62

E-mail address:

1877-7058 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Peer-review under responsibility of the scientific committee of the 15th International scientific conference “Underground Urbanisation as a
Prerequisite for Sustainable Development
884 Jasmina Dražić and Nikolai Vatin / Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890

1. Introduction

Configuration (arrangement, establisment of contours, exterior shape) of a building defines a shape, size and
relations of building dimensions. The terms “building concept” or “conceptual design” are often just freely used
terms by architects to identify the configuration, referring to architectural (functional) characteristics, such as
interior planning and surface organization in a building. Strictly speaking, building configuration refers to the
indicators of shape and dimensions of a building as a unity, resulting from the project solution and related to the
geometric proportion of the building contours [1]. In a wider sense, the configuration includes the type, dimensions
and position of structural elements, also emphasizing the significance of structural properties of a building.
Urban design and design plans for every settlement can influence the exterior of a building. In this context, urban
planning demands sometimes dictate the maximum building heights, street profile (especially in densely populated
urban surroundings), main building contours, need for an open first floor, vertical plane dimensions or other
characteristics of architectural form. Regardless the fact that geometric parameters of a construction plot and the
urban surrounding demands have an impact on the solution for a building’s foundations, the detailed design of the
final building contours is based on the demands for the interior space design. The concept of an interior design
includes the organization of adequate areas, by dimensions and shape, and the analysis of the surfaces for main
contents of architectural space. Diverse solution variations for the interior space design in a building, in accordance
with its function, can be linked to adequate possible solutions for the planned surfaces intended for human and
material movements, communication zones (corridors, halls, staircases, elevators); they are based on a selection of
one alternative or the combination of several alternatives. Quality of the space primarily depends on the properly set
relations between individual functional zones in a facility. Wrong zoning or inadequate grouping of functional zones
can destroy the overall functionality of a structure in general, resulting in a functional chaos in a building,
unnecessary movement and wandering by building users. The functioning of the main (working) zones in a structure
depends on the well organized movement scheme, as well as the safety of the building users and their in-time
evacuation in the case of an accident or a fire.
Designing architectural structures implies to find the most satisfactory disposition, building foundation and
appropriate height (number of floors) in order to satisfy the conditions defined in a project brief, yet also the
selection of optimal and safe bearing structure to provide a rational solution and economic building of a structure

2. Configuration of the seismically resistant buildings

With the selection of a configuration of a structure (building shape and dimensions), the architect directly
influences the selection of the system of bearing elements in a structure, i.e. the structural system. The type, position
and dimensions of main structural elements (columns, walls, floors, staircases), as well as the non-bearing walls and
openings in the horizontal structural elements or exterior facade surface elements, have an impact on the behaviour
of a structure under earthquakes.
Planning the interior space in a building is conditioned by the demand for a greater freedom in designing,
coordination of the urban project demands, and the designer’s style, and often it results in solutions such as: soft
story; discontinuity of shear walls; a variation in the bearing capacity and stiffness of elements along the building
circumference; and the irregularity of shape that has a serious influence on the seismic performances of a building.
The consequences that can lead all the way to collapse demand for overall analyses and structural measures to
achieve the demanded degree of the structure reliability. The observations of these types of design solutions and the
possible structural measures are presented in tables: soft story (Table 1), discontinuity of shear walls (Table 2),
variations in perimeter strength and stiffness (Table 3), and irregularity building forms in the plan (Table 4).
Jasmina Dražić and Nikolai Vatin / Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890 885

Table 1. Soft story .

Soft story
Soft story is linked to the problem of the change in strength and stiffness of vertical
elements of a floor and the adequate elements of other floors. It can appear anywhere, but
most often it occurs in the ground floors where it is the most dangerous.
Soft story implies the more complex behaviour of a building. Great horizontal movements
and inadequate effects of the second order influences caused by the upper building floor
weight increase the building sensitivity; damages in the ground floor spread rapidly, the
building cannot regain its stability and it finally collapses.

The purpose of a structure, where the function of the ground floor is different from the function of upper floors and demands for large
openings, can cause the appearance of the stiffness discontinuity, a “flexible floor”.
A. The difference in the elements’ stiffness vertically as a consequence of larger floor height in
the ground level.

B. The consequence of the project solution with large free spaces in the ground level leads to the
wall failure at the first floor level, the discontinuity of stiffness and the indirect direction of
load transfer.

C. Open ground level, the alteration of the structural system; columns carry the heavy structure
and walls. This is especially dangerous due to the break in the continuity of the braced walls if
they are primary seismic resistant elements.

Flexible ground level presents a dangerous structure. The acceptance of such a solution demands for a complex analysis, with a high
knowledge level from the structure dynamics and nonlinear structure behaviour, as well as adequate structural SOLUTIONS:

1. add columns 2. add bracing 3. add external buttresses

Table 2. Discontinuity of shear walls.

Discontinuity of shear walls
Discontinuity of shear walls leads to the interruption in the direct way of the load
transfer from the horizontal elements via walls to the foundations. The alteration in
the strength and stiffness vertically produces the tension concentration on the joint
between ground and first floors, at the most dangerous location.
886 Jasmina Dražić and Nikolai Vatin / Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890

From the structural point of view, the satisfactory solutions imply the application
of uninterrupted diaphragms along the height from the top to the foundations of a
building. If the project solution, building function or the evacuation roads presume
the interruption in diaphragms, the possible consequences of such a solution should
be analyzed in detail immediately on the conceptual design level.

Table 3. Variations in perimeter strength and stiffness.

Variations in perimeter strength and stiffness
During the seismic load action, the structural element characteristics
along the building perimeter have a significant influence on the
building behaviour. In the case of diverse strength and stiffness of
elements placed along the structure perimeter, the centre of the mass
does not coincide with the centre of the resistance, causing undesired
torsion effects and severe damage even on the regular foundation
contour buildings.

Structures with open facades, one, two or three, are common project
solutions for shops (individual or in the malls), fire stations, etc.

In order to reduce the possibility of torsion, SOLUTIONS are found in balancing structural characteristics (stiffness) of elements located
along the structure circumference.

light cladding stiff walls

Light cladding in the zone of closed facade planes or separating the Stiff shear walls to balance the stiffness of the open facade with the
heavy sheathing from the primary structure elements in the closed facade planes
moment frame stiff diaphragm

Combination of frames, walls and stiff diaphragm (for relatively

Moment frame at the open front small structures)

Table 4. Irregularity building forms in the plan.

Irregularity building forms in the plan
Demands for a large number of light and large rooms in the building often result
in complex building forms (in plan, shape of an L,T,H etc., or a combination of
these shapes).
Jasmina Dražić and Nikolai Vatin / Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890 887

First possible problem occurring with the complex forms in the plan structures is
the concentration of tension at the position of foundation breaks (angles).
Second problem is torsion, due to the impossibility of coinciding the centre of
mass and the centre of resistance for all directions of earthquake action. The
problem depends on the characteristics of soil movement, building mass,
structural system type, wing length and their proportions, wing height and the
ratio between height and depth.

Table 5. Irregularity building forms in the plan.

First SOLUTION is to separate buildings into wings, and the 1.
second approach are structural strengtheners to balance and
provide building resistance for the earthquake action (for smaller

2. 3.

3. Regular or irregular configuration

The influence of the building configuration onto its behavior under the earthquake action classifies structures into
regular and irregular. Regular, satisfactory building configurations refer to simple and spatially balanced solutions
that can be relatively easy encircled in a seismic analysis, structural systems that are easily modeled and analyzed;
thus, these buildings present better and safer behavior, with less damage under severe earthquakes. Irregular
building structures demand the application of more complex dynamic analysis methods or the increase in bearing
capacity with the application of simple calculation methods. Structural treatment often requires the introduction of
unjustified simplifications during modeling and analyses, which can lead to errors in the evaluation of the real
structure motion under earthquake action. The behavior of irregular structures is difficult to predict, and the over-
simplified or inadequate calculation presumptions can result in unreliable or non-economic solutions.
The possibility to evaluate design solutions in the conceptual design phase for an aseismic structure and the
definitions of the building regularity enable an architect to face the consequences that the proposed design solution
has on the building behavior (structure analysis, modeling and dimensioning) in the initial design phases [3].
Irregular buildings can occur as a result of urban planning, as a search by an architect for an original form, and
often as a result of inadequate education in aseismic design. The solution for the problems related to the lack of
knowledge and the incapability of the idea realization within the group of earthquake resistant structures can be
provided by the “earthquake architecture”. The solutions inspired by the seismic engineering technologies, where
888 Jasmina Dražić and Nikolai Vatin / Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890

the elements and the technology levels of earthquake engineering are utilized as the elements of architectural
expressions [2], [4], reduce the limitations of traditional principles to aseismic design. The scheme in Figure 1
presents the conceptual design phase and the influence of the selected configuration (regular or irregular structure)
onto the design flow of a seismically resistant building. Following simultaneously the evaluation criteria related to
the architectural concept and the ability of the structural system to accept seismic actions, it is possible to classify
buildings according to diverse degrees in seismic architecture [5]. Buildings with a high degree of seismic
architecture index refer to the structures resistant to earthquake action.
Jasmina Dražić and Nikolai Vatin / Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890 889



The influence of the

DEFINING THE configuration onto the
CONFIGURATION building behaviour
under earthquake action



The architect should be aware of the influences

When it is necessary to provide the most of the selected configurations onto the
economic design and building structural treatment and behaviour of the
building under the earthquake action, as well
as the fact that the problem of irregular
configuration cannot be solved by seismic
When it is necessary to provide maximum calculations
predictability of set seismic performances

Structural designer showing interest for the

proposed architectural solution should be
When it is necessary to provide best seismic included at the very beginning of the design
performances for the lowest cost process

BUILDINGS WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF SEISMIC It is expected from the architect and the
ARCHITECTURE INDEX designer to maximally utilize their knowledge
and imagination in order to reduce the
consequences of irregularities and achieve the
set aesthetic qualities without endangering the
structure stability

The architect should be able to accept the

proposed structural measures which can alter
Dance centre in Aix-en- Tod's Omotesando Building in the design, i.e. to integrate these measures and
Provence, France Tokyo, Japan use them in designing the solution

Design solutions that include extreme

irregularities can demand for special and
expensive structural solutions, hence the
significance of the building has to justify the
Sendai City Multimedia Library Bird's Nest, Olympic Stadium in needed financial investments into the seismic
in Sendai, Japan Beijing, China protection.

Fig. 1. The influence of the selection of configuration onto the design flow for a seismically resistant building.
890 Jasmina Dražić and Nikolai Vatin / Procedia Engineering 165 (2016) 883 – 890

4. Conclusion

The influence of the building configuration onto its behavior under the earthquake action implies the significance
of a good conceptual design. Educating architects for aseismic design implies the possibility of evaluating design
solutions in the initial design phase (structure regularity) and introduces them to the consequences that the selected
configuration has on the building behavior (analysis, modeling, dimensioning of a structure). Regular building
structures behave satisfactory under the earthquake action and can be enclosed relatively well in a seismic analysis
(they are easily modeled and analyzed), and hence they imply economic solutions with the best seismic
performances. The behaviour of irregular structures during earthquakes is extremely complex, often unpredictable
and it is very difficult to accurately determine the seismic response of a building. Designing irregular configuration
buildings demands the introduction of a structural designer from the initial design phases.
The knowledge of the design principles for seismically resistant structures and the earthquake engineering
technology enable an architect to utilize the structural measures for seismic resistance while designing the solution
and, together with the structural designer, to accept the responsibility for the building realization in these conditions.
By designing buildings with a high degree of seismic architecture, the architect achieves the set aesthetic building
qualities without endangering the stability of a structure.


The work reported in this paper is a part of the research within the research project TR 36043 "Development and
application of a comprehensive approach to the design of new and safety assessment of existing structures for
seismic risk reduction in Serbia", supported by the Ministry for Science and Technology, Republic of Serbia. This
support is gratefully acknowledged.


[1] C. Arnold, R. Reitherman, Building Configuration and Seismic Design, John Wiley & Sons, 1982, pp.194.
[2] A. Guisasola, Base isolation in architecture, The 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Beijing, 2008.
[3] J. Dražić, The Analysis of Interaction of Functional and Structural Building Properties in Aseismic Designing, Doctoral dissertation,
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Technical Sciences, Novi Sad, 2005.
[4] M. Mezzi, Configuration and morphology for the application of new seismic protection systems, First European Conference on Earthquake
Engineering and Seismology, Geneva, 2006.
[5] S. Tomaž, V. Kilar, Assessment of Earthquake Architecture as a Link between Architecture and Earthquake Engineering, Znanstveni časopis
za arhitekturu i urbanizam Prostor, Zagreb, 2008, pp. 154-167.
[6] FEMA, No. 454: Designing for Earthquakes. A manual for architects. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Building seismic
safety Council. Washington, D. C., 2006.