Archives for September 2011

Report # 108 : Half-timbered house in the “border triangle” (Fachwerkhaus im Dreil√§ndereck)

by Maria D. Bostenaru

This type of construction can be found in both the urban and rural areas of Germany, Switzerland, northern France, and England. The main load-bearing structure is timber frame. Brick masonry, adobe, or wooden planks are used as infill materials depending on the region. This report deals with the two latter types, because they are located in areas where strong earthquakes occur every century. However, this construction has proven particularly safe, and some of the buildings have existed for 700 years. These buildings have characteristic windows and a rectangular floor plan, with rooms opening to a central hall, which were later replaced by a courtyard. Typically, each housing unit is occupied by a single family. While in the past this was the housing of the poor, today affluent families live in these historic buildings. The load-bearing structure consists of a timbered joists and posts forming a single system with adobe or wooden infill. The walls consist of a colonnade of pillars supported by a threshold on the lower side and stiffened by crossbars and struts in the middle. On the upper part they are connected by a “Rahmholz.” The roof is steep with the gable overlooking the street. The floors consist of timber joists parallel to the gable plane with inserted ripples. The only notable seismic deficiency is the design for gravity loads only, while numerous earthquake-resilient features – the presence of diagonal braces, the achievement of equilibrium, the excellent connections between the bearing elements, the similar elasticity of the materials used (wood and eventually adobe) and the satisfactory three-dimensional conformation – have completely prevented patterns of earthquake damage. Since 1970, buildings in Switzerland are regulated by earthquake codes (latest update 1989). The 2002 edition will incorporate EC8 recommendations.


Report # 64 : Reinforced concrete frame building with masonry infills

by Polat Gulkan, Mark Aschheim, Robin Spence

Approximately 80 percent of Turkey’s urban households live in mid-rise apartment blocks constructed of cast-in-situ, reinforced concrete with masonry infill. The vertical structure consists of columns 200-300 mm in thickness, longer in one direction than in the other, and designed to fit within the walls. Floor and roof slabs are of “filler slab” construction, with hollow clay or concrete tiles used to form the voids, and are usually supported by reinforced concrete beams. In some cases the framing is flat-slab construction. The reinforced concrete frame is infilled with hollow-tile or masonry-block walls which are rarely connected structurally to the frame. These buildings have not performed well in recent earthquakes because poor design and construction have resulted in insufficient lateral resistance in the framing system. In many cases, this has been coupled with an inappropriate building form. Notwithstanding the existence of earthquake-resistant design codes for more than 30 years, many buildings have not been designed for an earthquake of a magnitude that could occur within the building’s lifetime.


Report # 89 : Traditional adobe house without seismic features

by Virginia I. Rodriguez, Maria I. Yacante, Sergio Reiloba

This construction type is used as a single-family house. It is a single-story, detached building, found in the rural and suburban areas of the province of San Juan. This traditional type of construction is built with adobe walls and no cornice. The traditional adobe house has a range of deficiencies: weak connections, heavy roofs, adobe blocks that deteriorate (especially at the base of the walls) due to prolonged exposure to humidity. This housing type is expected to perform poorly in earthquakes.

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Report # 101 : Tunnel form building

by Ahmet Yakut, Polat Gulkan

This type of rapidly constructed, multi-unit residential form has been used in Turkey since the late 1970s and early 1980s. It has demonstrated superior earthquake resistance and has also been increasingly utilized as permanent housing in post-earthquake reconstruction programs. Initially, the tunnel form building was targeted for multi-unit residential construction for public or privately sponsored housing projects. Typically, a single building may contain 15 or more stories and up to 40 or 50 residential units. This contribution has been motivated by our intention to not only familiarize readers with the architectural or structural features of the building type, but to also underscore its noteworthy seismic performance that stands in stark contrast to Turkey’s recent experience.


Report # 104 : Adobe House

by Mehrdad Mehrain, Farzad Naeim

This building type is typically one or two stories and used for single-family housing. It is more predominant in the desert, in cold-weather, or other inhospitable climates. It has a large mass and basically no strength, particularly against out-of-plane wall forces. These buildings are the most seismically vulnerable. In the 2003 Bam earthquake, collapse of these buildings was widespread and contributed to many of the 43,000+ deaths. The typical mode of collapse is out-of-plane failure of the walls, resulting in loss of support for the roof. Adobe construction is widespread throughout Iran, and is used both by wealthy families in luxury residences, as well as by poor families in more modest dwellings.


Report # 114 : Stonework building with wooden timber roof

by Masoud N. Ahari, Alireza Azarbakht

Stonework buildings are a common type of rural construction in many parts of Iran (Figure 32). It is widely used in the mountainous areas because of the ease of attaining the building material. More than 71,000 stonework buildings were built in 1968-1972 in comparison to 54,000 brick masonry buildings in these years [1]. Unfortunately these buildings are often found in highly seismic parts of Iran (see maps on WHE webpage for Iran). Buildings of this type are up to two stories high, with height/width aspect ratio on the order of 0.3-0.5. The building materials consists of stone, wood, mud mortar and straw. The major elements of these systems are stonewalls which carry both gravity and lateral loads. These walls consist of stone or stone ballast with mud mortar and straw. For reasons of thermal insulation the thickness of these walls is not less than 50 centimeters (usually 70 centimeters). Details of wall are shown in Figures 11 to 20. The roof includes wooden joists and a set of secondary joists which are plastered with a thick layer of mud (Figures 21 and 22). Different views of this kind of building are shown in Figures 1 to 3. Also a typical building view, plan and layout are shown in Figures 4 to 10. Weak points of this construction type are: the presence of a heavy roof; inadequate behavior of the walls under out-of-plain forces (Figures 23 and 24); poor shear capacity of the mortar; inadequate connection between roof and walls; inadequate connection between intersecting walls; and lack of diaphragm action in floors and roof where the roof elements (wooden beams) do not work together in earthquakes and may collapse (Figures 25 and 27). In general, this kind of structure is frequently used as a house and stable in mountainous villages, but its earthquake performance is not acceptable. Any proper rehabilitation techniques may save many people’s lives.


Report # 118 : Earring system (Shekanj) in dome-roof structures with unreinforced brick and adobe materials

by Nima T. Bekloo

This building structure derives its name from the four earrings that are constructed at the four corners of a rectangular building at the spring level of dome roof. This structural system was developed due to the lack of of wood and stone. It was widely constructed more than 3 thousand years ago, after the invention of the dome-roof structures in the Old Persian Empire (Ashkanian & Sasanian). The main problem with the dome-roof building was to transform the rectangular or polygonal plan of the group of walls into the circular plan at the spring level of dome roof. They used to construct the first row of dome and then construct another row on top of previous one with a little offset closer to the center of the dome circle and so on. That was too difficult to construct. This system was invented to resolve this problem. In this system, once the walls were constructed, four earrings (shekanj) built upon four corners of walls intersections, and then it was much easier to build a dome over these. It is an ideal system to resist vertical and gravity loads and transform them into horizontal and shear loads. For lateral loads, domes behave like trusses and distribute the load to the other parts of the structure creating a perfect load path.


Report # 117 : Four arches (Char taaqi) with dome-roof structures, and unreinforced brick and adobe materials.

by Nima T. Bekloo

The ‘Four arches’ or Char Taaqi (in Persian) derives its name from the four arches that connects tops of four timber or masonry piers enclosing the space. It is an equilateral architectural unit consisting of four arches or short Barrel vaults between four corner piers, with a dome over the central square; this square and the lateral bays under the arches or barrel vaults together constitute a room of cruciform ground plan. This structural system developed about 2500 years ago, after earring system in the Old Persian Empire (Sasanian age). Main goal of this building system was to create wide openings at four side of the structure. This building system was used for special places that carry high population like fire temple (place where Persians worshiped the Fire God), mosque, bazaar and other public places. This is not that difficult to built a dome over four arches. Further, dome structures are ideal for large span structures against gravity loads as it transforms them into horizontal and shear loads. In addition, for lateral loads, domes behave like a truss and distribute the load to other parts of the structure developing a perfect load path. This construction system has been considered, the most prominent structural system in traditional Iranian architecture. These are basically monumental buildings developed close to desert where there was not enough construction materials that could take tensile stresses.