Unreinforced Masonry

Brickwork is an assembly of brick units bonded together with mortar. Click HERE for an introduction to unreinforced masonry.

Report # 84 : A single-family, two-storey house with brick walls and timber floors

by Maria D. Bostenaru, Ilie Sandu

This type of urban housing was constructed in Romania in the 1930s as single-family housing for the middle class. Typical buildings described in this report are one- or two-story buildings with load-bearing masonry walls. These buildings called “vila” in Romania are characterized by a rectangular plan and are usually semidetached; they share a common wall with the adjacent building. A great variety of buildings exist of this structural type. The building type described in this report has load-bearing brick masonry walls constructed of mud mortar. The floor structure consists of timber planks and joists. These buildings are located in an area well-known to be earthquake-prone. The epicenter is located close to Vrancea and earthquakes exceeding magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale recur every 30 to 35 years. The latest earthquake of this severity was the March 1977 Vrancea earthquake (M 7.2). However, the building type described in this report is located in the Bucharest area and although affected by the November 1940 Naruja (Vrancea) earthquake (M 7.4), it usually performed well during the 1940 and 1977 earthquakes. The most common type of damage was in the form of cracks and falling chimneys. Some of the older buildings of this type have been affected by other past earthquakes. Because this construction is common for many Romanian buildings of the “Brâncovenesc” architectural style, new retrofit techniques have been developed in recent years (in addition to the techniques used after the 1977 earthquake).


Report # 73 : Unreinforced Brick Masonry Apartment Building

by Marjana Lutman, Miha Tomazevic

This construction was commonly used for residential buildings in all Slovenian towns, and it constitutes up to 30% of the entire housing stock in Slovenia. The majority of these buildings were built between 1920 and 1965. They are generally medium-rise, usually 4 to 6 stories high. The walls are unreinforced brick masonry construction laid in lime/cement mortar. In some cases, the wall density in the longitudinal direction is significantly smaller than in the transverse direction. In pre-1950 construction, there are mainly wooden floor structures without RC tie-beams. In post-1950s construction, there are concrete floors with RC bond-beams provided in the structural walls. Roof structures are either made of wood (pitched roofs) or reinforced concrete (flat roofs). Since this construction was widely practiced prior to the development of the seismic code (the first such code was issued in 1964), many buildings of this type exceed the allowable number of stories permitted by the current seismic code (maximum 2 or 3 stories for unreinforced masonry construction). Buildings of this type have been exposed to earthquake effects in Slovenia. However, this construction type experienced the most significant damage in the 1963 Skopje, Macedonia, earthquake, which severely damaged or caused the collapse of many buildings.


Report # 53 : Small concrete block masonry walls with concrete floors and roofs

by Mark Klyachko, Yuriy Gordeev, Freda Kolosova

This is a typical residential construction found both in urban and rural areas. It represents a construction practice followed in the former Soviet Union. Buildings of this type constitute 15 to 30% of the housing stock in seismically prone areas of Russia (Far East, Siberia, Baikal Lake Region, North Caucasus) and in CIS states (Central Asia, Armenia, Georgia, etc.). The main load-bearing system for lateral and gravity loads consists of concrete block masonry walls and concrete floor slabs. Seismic resistance is relatively good, provided that the welded block wall connections are present and well constructed.


Report # 41 : Two-story unreinforced brick masonry building with wooden floors

by Svetlana Uranova, Ulugbek T. Begaliev

This is a non-engineered construction practiced in Kyrgyzstan from 1920 to 1957. The load-bearing structure consists of unreinforced brick masonry walls and wooden floor beams. Brick masonry walls are usually constructed of mud mortar. Walls are usually perforated with rather large door and window openings. The wall length between the adjacent cross walls is on the order of 9-10 m. Wooden floor elements (beams) are not tied together and they do not behave as diaphragms. Based on the performance in past earthquakes, this building type is considered to be highly vulnerable to seismic effects.


Report # 34 : Buildings with hollow clay tile load-bearing walls and precast concrete floor slabs

by Ulugbek T. Begaliev, Svetlana Uranova

Buildings of this type are characterized with load-bearing masonry walls and precast concrete floors. Typical buildings of this type are 3 to 4 stories high and they are characterized with two longitudinal walls and several cross walls. There are many existing buildings of this type in Kyrgyzstan, and most of them were constructed in the 1960s. This construction practice was banned after 1966, due to the code provisions that required restriction of the size of the cores in hollow clay tiles (blocks). The exterior walls are made of hollow clay masonry tiles (blocks). In some cases there are two wall wythes: the exterior wythe made of hollow clay tiles and the interior wythe made of solid clay bricks. The floor system consists of precast reinforced concrete hollow core slabs. Buildings of this type were built in the areas with high seismic design intensity (8, 9 and higher on the MSK scale). This building type is considered to be rather vulnerable to seismic effects.


Report # 31 : Brick masonry farmhouse with a “dead door”

by Agostino Goretti, Daniela Malvolti, Simona Papa

This is a single-family farmhouse construction, found throughout the Padania plain (Reggio Emilia Province). This housing type accounts for approximately 20% of the entire housing stock in the Reggio Emilia municipality. This building practice is no longer followed. Most of the existing buildings were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. The residential and agricultural sections of the house are separated by a central area closed at one end and hence called a “dead door.” The residential section usually has two floors (typical story height 2.5 – 3.0 m) and a sloping roof. The agricultural portion, usually larger than the residential section, also has two floor levels. The first-floor height is on the order of 2.5 – 3.0 m whereas the second-story floor height ranges from 5.0 – 9.0 m. As a result, the roof in the agricultural section of the building is at a higher level than that of the residential. The first floor is used as a cow shed and the second as a hayloft. The load-bearing structure consists of brick masonry walls in lime mortar. The walls are characterized by variable thickness, decreasing from 280 mm at the first-floor level to 150 mm at the second-floor level. There are brick masonry columns in the interior of the agricultural section at the second-floor level. The buttresses can be found in the exterior brick masonry walls. Both the residential and agricultural sections have wooden floors; there are vaulted floors in the central area. In some cases, composite floors made of steel beams and perforated bricks can be found. Although the building plan is very regular, the seismic performance of this building type is rather poor due to the vertical irregularity (offset of the floors in the residential and agricultural sections), the absence of connections between walls and between the walls and floors, the thrusting of the roof, and the deterioration of materials.


Report # 29 : Single-family historic brick masonry house (Casa unifamiliare in centro storico, Centro Italia)

by Dina D’Ayala, Elena Speranza, Francesco D’Ercole

This single-family housing type, found throughout the Central Italy (Centro Italia) mainly in hill towns and small cities, is typically built on sloped terrain. A typical house is 3 stories high, built between two adjacent buildings with which it shares common walls. The main facade of the house faces a narrow road. The ground floor level (perforated with openings on one side only) is used for storage, while the other two stories are used for residential purposes. Typical buildings of this type are approximately 3 m wide and 9 m long. The building height on the front side is on the order of 4.5 m, whereas the height on the rear side is larger (close to 5 m). All the walls are made of unreinforced brick masonry in lime mortar, while the floor structures are vaults at the ground floor level, and timber floor structures at the higher levels. The roof is made of timber and is double-pitched, sloping down towards the front and rear walls. Buildings of this type are expected to demonstrate rather good seismic performance, mostly due to their modest height. Problems related to seismic performance might be caused by the adjacent buildings (typically one story higher). Seismic strengthening techniques for buildings of this type are well established and strengthening of some buildings has been done after the recent earthquake.


Report # 24 : Unreinforced clay brick masonry house

by Sugeng Wijanto

Unreinforced clay brick masonry (UCB) housing construction is still often found in rural areas of Indonesia. This is a single-story building and the main load-bearing structure in these buildings consists of brick masonry walls built in cement mortar and a timber roof structure. This is non-engineered construction built following the traditional construction practice, without any input by architects or building experts. Builders follow a pattern by observing the behavior of typical buildings in the surrounding area. Buildings of this type typically experience severe damage or collapse in the earthquakes in Indonesia.


Report # 22 : Unreinforced brick masonry walls with pitched clay tile roof

by Amit Kumar

This is a traditional construction practice followed in India for centuries. Buildings of this construction type are used for residential, commercial, and public purposes throughout India, especially in the northern and central parts, where good quality soil for brick production is widely available. This is a single-story construction used both in rural and urban areas. The walls are constructed using clay bricks laid in mud, brick-lime or cement/sand mortar. The roof does not behave as a rigid diaphragm. These buildings are built without any seismic provisions and are considered to be moderately-to-highly vulnerable to earthquake effects.


Report # 21 : Unreinforced brick masonry building with reinforced concrete roof slab

by Ravi Sinha, Svetlana N. Brzev

Typical rural and urban construction in western and southern India. This construction is widely prevalent among the middle-class population in urban areas and has become popular in rural areas in the last 30 years. Brick masonry walls in cement mortar function as the main load-bearing element. The roof structure is a cast-in-situ reinforced concrete slab. If constructed without seismic features, buildings of this type are vulnerable to earthquake effects. They exhibited rather poor performance during the Koyna (1967), Killari (1993), Jabalpur (1997), and Bhuj (2001) earthquakes in India.