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Shear Walls

Earthquake Resistant Building Construction (ERBC)

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Earthquakes are devastating because they destroy infrastructure. Collapse of building structures in which they live during the earthquake kills people. Hence, the real culprits are our construction practices and poor quality of construction. The conventional buildings instantly collapse without any warnings during the unpredictable and sudden earthquakes.

Gujrath earthquake(2001) Occurred on January 26, 2001 and coincided with the 51st celebration of India's Republic Day. y Magnitude of between 7.6 and 8.1. Killed more than 20,000 people and injured another 1,67,000 and destroyed near a million homes. y Bhuj, situated only 20 km from the epicentre, was the most devastated town. The quake destroyed around 90% of the homes in Bhuj, eight schools, and flattened two hospitals. It partly destroyed the historic Swaminarayan temple in the city. It also destroyed 4 km of road in Bhuj. y In Ahmedabad, as many as 50 multi-storied buildings collapsed and several hundred people were killed.

928 people killed.11. 16. 6. Latur District. 15.56 am. .000 people injured. 1993 at 3.Latur / Killari earthquake (1993) y y y y y y y y September 30.4 on Richter scale. Epicentre near Killari.854 livestock killed.000 houses collapsed.000 houses in 13 districts suffered damages of varying degree. 30. 52 villages collapsed. 7. 2.

particularly to withstand very severe earthquakes of magnitude above 8.0 (Richter Scale). they may not suddenly collapse and will not kill people. . But it is possible to design and construct ERB structures. though they may suffer huge damage under the influence of very severe earthquakes.Earthquake Resistant Building Construction (ERBC) y y It is not feasible and economical to design and construct totally earthquake proof building structures.

Shear Wall Concrete walls. placed at convenient locations are economically used to provide necessary resistance to horizontal forces. which have high plane stiffness. y . y The walls may be placed in the form of assemblies surrounding the lift shafts or stair wells.

Shear wall concept y y The walls are not only designed to resist gravity / vertical loads (due to its self-weight and other living / moving loads). The walls are structurally integrated with roofs / floors and other lateral walls. but they are also designed for lateral loads of earthquakes / cyclones. thereby giving the three dimensional stability for the building structures. .

Shear wall concept y y Shear wall structural system of 3-dimensions can effectively withstand the earthquake forces. which will be subjected to lot of vibrations and base excitations are built of stiffened plate system .a simple steel plate stiffened (strengthened / reinforced) by a grid of steel structural angles or channels. A railway compartment or a bus coach. .

is comparatively more. it is made of concrete or masonry wall panels. which are reinforced. Shear wall systems are comparatively more stable to withstand earthquakes because their supporting area (total cross-sectional area of all shear walls) with reference to total plan area of building.Shear wall concept y y In shear wall system. unlike in the case of RCC framed structures. with a grid of steel rods. .

but it requires extraordinary skills at design. caused by the earthquakes. detailing and construction levels. etc. y It is possible to design the earthquake resistant RCC frame.. y . when compared to shear wall concept of box like three-dimensional structures.Shear wall structures vs Load bearing masonry structures and / or RCC framed structures The load bearing masonry is very brittle material. torsion. the conventional unreinforced brick masonry collapses instantly during the unpredictable and sudden earthquakes. tension. which can not be anticipated in all construction projects. y The RCC framed structures are slender. Due to different kinds of stresses such as shear.

Shear wall structures vs Load bearing masonry structures and / or RCC framed structures y y y Moderately designed shear wall structures not only more stable. before they totally collapse. during very severe earthquakes they will not suddenly collapse causing death of people. They give enough indicative warnings such as widening structural cracks. but also comparatively quite ductile. . etc.. yielding rods. offering most precious moments for people to run out off structures. In safety terms it means that.

Shear walls are like vertically-oriented wide beams that carry earthquake loads downwards to the foundation. beams and slabs. Their thickness can be as low as 150mm. or as high as 400mm in high rise buildings. These walls generally start at foundation level and are continuous throughout the building height.Shear Walls y y y y y Reinforced concrete (RC) buildings have vertical plate-like RC walls called Shear Walls in addition to columns. . Shear walls are usually provided along both length and width of buildings.


Shear Walls Properly designed and detailed buildings with shear walls have shown very good performance in past earthquakes.µ y . Mark Fintel·s quote: ´We cannot afford to build concrete buildings meant to resist severe earthquakes without shear walls. y A noted consulting engineer in USA.

like Chile. Shear walls are easy to construct. However. .y y y y y Shear walls in high seismic regions require special detailing. because reinforcement detailing of walls is relatively straight-forward and therefore easily implemented at site. Shear wall buildings are a popular choice in many earthquake prone countries. Shear walls are efficient. even buildings with sufficient amount of walls that were not specially detailed for seismic performance (but had enough well-distributed reinforcement) were saved from collapse. New Zealand and USA. both in terms of construction cost and effectiveness in minimizing earthquake damage in structural and non-structural elements (like glass windows and building contents).

y . these columns primarily carry gravity loads due to self-weight and contents of building. y Shear walls provide large strength and stiffness to buildings in the direction of their orientation. which significantly reduces lateral sway of the building and there by reduces damage to structure and its contents.Architectural Aspects Most RC buildings with shear walls also have columns.

the overturning effects on them are large.Architectural Aspects Shear walls carry large horizontal earthquake forces. y . a proper grid of beams and columns must be provided along the other direction to resist strong earthquake effects. y Shear walls should be provided along preferably both length and width. design of their foundations requires special attention. y If they are provided along only one direction. Thus.

y Openings should be symmetrically located. y . y Design checks are required to ensure that the net cross-sectional area of a wall at an opening is sufficient to carry the horizontal earthquake force. but their size must be small to ensure least interruption to force flow through walls.Architectural Aspects Door or window openings can be provided in shear walls.

Architectural Aspects Shear walls in buildings must be symmetrically located in plan to reduce ill-effects of twist in buildings. y . y Shear walls are more effective when located along exterior perimeter of the building ² such a layout increases resistance of the building to twisting. y They could be placed symmetrically along one or both directions in plan.


types and amount of reinforcement. and connection with remaining elements in the building help in improving the ductility of walls. Overall geometric proportions of the wall. The Indian Standard Ductile Detailing Code for RC members (IS:13920-1993) provides special design guidelines for ductile detailing of shear walls. .Ductile Design of Shear Walls y y y Like reinforced concrete (RC) beams and columns. RC shear walls also perform much better if designed to be ductile.

e.and U-shaped sections are also used. i. y . one dimension of the cross-section is much larger than the other. y Thin-walled hollow RC shafts around the elevator core of buildings also act as shear walls.Overall Geometry of Walls Overall Geometry of Walls: Shear walls are oblong in cross-section. y While rectangular cross-section is common. and should be taken advantage of to resist earthquake forces.. L.


The vertical and horizontal reinforcement in the wall can be placed in one or two parallel layers called curtains. . The minimum area of reinforcing steel to be provided is 0. This vertical reinforcement should be distributed uniformly across the wall crosssection.Reinforcement y y y y y Steel reinforcing bars are to be provided in walls in regularly spaced vertical and horizontal grids . Horizontal reinforcement needs to be anchored at the ends of walls.0025 times the cross-sectional area.


. the thickness of the shear wall in these boundary elements is also increased. End regions of a wall with increased confinement are called boundary elements.Boundary Elements y y y y y Under the large overturning effects caused by horizontal earthquake forces. RC walls with boundary elements have substantially higher bending strength and horizontal shear force carrying capacity. concrete in the wall end regions must be reinforced to sustain these load reversals. Sometimes. edges of shear walls experience high compressive and tensile stresses. and are therefore less susceptible to earthquake damage than walls without boundary elements. To ensure that shear walls behave in a ductile way.


beams and slabs. RCC walls are relatively quite costlier and it requires a special system of formwork. calling for more investment. . Though constructing RCC slabs are conventional. the shear walls are to be ideally built of RCC walls and slabs. casting RCC walls are not. which are to be built of columns.Shear wall construction y y y Unlike RCC framed structures.

y RHCBM walls are constructed by reinforcing the hollow concrete block masonry.RHCBM technique Reinforced Hollow Concrete Block Masonry (RHCBM) construction technique is an optimal solution. by taking advantage of hollow spaces and shapes of the hollow blocks. both from the angles of cost effectiveness and structural safety. y .

this construction technique is popularly being utilised. In many parts of USA and other seismically prone countries of the world.RHCBM technique y y It requires continuous steel rods (reinforcement) both in the vertical and horizontal directions at structurally critical locations of the wall panels. . packed with the fresh grout concrete in the hollow spaces of masonry blocks.

but also cost effective construction system. etc. . RHCBM is an effective earthquake resistant construction system without involving additional costs and any special skills. equipment. machinery. materials.Indian Scenario y y The Structural Engineering Research Centre. But it requires good awareness to popularise that. Madras proved that RHCBM is not only structurally efficient construction technique.

Guidelines for the design It is advisable to provide minimum 12mm rod in every corner of a wall panel and at every free end of the wall panel. Similarly reinforcement is to be provided all around any openings such as windows and doors. y y y .2m. minimum one rod of 8mm is to be provided. At a spacing of maximum 1.

In moderate earthquake zones it may be sufficient to grout only the hollow spaces where reinforcement is being provided.Guidelines for the design y y y Horizontal reinforcement is to be provided at floor level. sill (window bottom) level. lintel (window top) level. However in severe earthquake zones it is advisable to grout all the hollow spaces in the entire wall panels and increase the quantity of reinforcement provision. and roof levels in each storey. .

"not a single concrete building containing shear walls has collapsed and no lives were lost in the shear wall buildings. .Earthquake Performance y After the post-earthquake surveys for over three decades. during a dozen moderate to severe earthquakes through out the world starting with the Skopje earthquake of 1963 through the Armenian earthquake of 1988". American earthquake experts have reported that.

Romania .Plan of a typical shear wall building .

Shear wall construction Barker Hall Project. University of California .

Structural Systems .