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 # 159 : Reinforced concrete buildings in Pakistan

by Yasir Irfan Badrashi, Qaisar Ali, Mohammad Ashraf

This report addresses reinforced-concrete buildings in Pakistan. Due to the rapid urbanization in Pakistan in the recent past and consequently the scarcity and inflated cost of land in the major cities, builders have been forced to resort to the construction of reinforced-concrete buildings both for commercial and residential purposes. It is estimated that reinforced-concrete buildings constitute 10 to 15% of the total building stock in the major cities of Pakistan and this percentage is on the rise. However, construction of reinforced concrete buildings in Pakistan is still in nascent stage with construction procedures lacking compliance with the established construction procedures. This report is based on survey of the building stock of 5 major cities in Pakistan and hence provides a realistic picture of construction of reinforced-concrete buildings in Pakistan. The statistics provided in this report are based on personal observation of the authors as well as opinion of professionals working in the construction industry who were interviewed in the course of this survey.


Report # 145 : Pillar walaghar (URM infilled RC frame buildings)

by Yukta Bilas Marhatta, Jitendra K Bothara, Meen Bahadur Magar, Gopal Chapagain

This building type is widely constructed in the urban and semi-urban area of Nepal. It has all the characteristics of a vernacular building only with the exception that few of the construction materials are not local. It is one of the most emerging building typologies in Nepal. This is mostly non-engineered building typology. However, in urban areas sometimes competent structural engineers are also involved in the design. This technology was picked up after its relatively better performance during 1988 Udaypur earthquake which recorded M6.4 on Richter scale, that severely hit eastern Nepal. In this type of building a lightly reinforced frame is constructed first and then infill walls are erected later between columns. Though not usual, sometimes walls are constructed first and columns and beams later. These buildings serve multifunctional purposes such as residential, commercial, official, religious, educational, etc. These buildings are highly vulnerable to earthquake because of deficient detailing, inferior construction materials and the inadequate technology employed. Despite the use of modern materials of construction there is an ever growing risk to life and property due to potential earthquake attack. This building type, if designed and constructed properly, is suitable for low rise buildings up to 3 to 4 stories high. It is necessary to disseminate simple techniques of earthquake resistant measures for these buildings to the grass-root level.


Report # 115 : Reinforced concrete multistory buildings

by Mario Rodriguez, Francisco G. Jarque

This report describes Reinforced Concrete (RC) multistory residential buildings in Mexico. This type of construction is found mostly in large cities where space limitations lead to this type of solution. Typically buildings of this type have eight or more stories. Members of the middle and upper classes are the target market for this type of construction. In areas of low seismic risk, waffle slab floor systems without structural RC walls are preferred by developers primarily due to their speed of construction. In areas of medium to high seismic risk, it is typical for this type of building to have a dual system, which combines RC moment frames and RC structural walls as the main lateral load resisting elements. The RC floor systems are constructed of waffle slabs or solid slabs. RC buildings account for about 80% of the entire housing stock in Mexico. Buildings constructed after 1985 are expected to perform well under seismic forces, especially in Mexico City, where the building construction code has been substantially updated to incorporate lessons learned during the 1985 earthquake.


Report # 111 : Reinforced Concrete Moment Frame Building without Seismic Details

by Heidi Faison, Craig D. Comartin, Kenneth Elwood

This report examines reinforced concrete buildings that use moment-resisting frames without ductile detailing to resist seismic loads. While this building type is predominantly used for office buildings and hotels, it is also used in urban areas for multi-family dwellings (condominiums) and university dormitories. It can be found in most urban areas across the country, though it is of particular concern in areas of high seismic hazard like California, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. Building codes did not include requirements for special seismic detailing of reinforced concrete structures until the 1970’s when several earthquakes demonstrated the need for more ductile design. These buildings are vulnerable to numerous failure modes including: failure of column lap splices; strong beam/weak column failures; captive column failure; punching shear failures in flat plate slabs; and shear and axial load failure of columns with wide transverse reinforcement spacing. A discontinuity in stiffness and strength at the bottom story, due to a soft story, often results in a concentration of earthquake damage at the building base. Several examples of past earthquake behavior are given in this report as well as discussion of various retrofit options.


Report # 103 : Single-family reinforced concrete frame houses

by Mohammed Farsi, Farah Lazzali

This privately owned housing constitutes about 60 to 70% of the housing stock and is widespread throughout northern Algeria, the region of the country’s highest seismic risk. Generally, these buildings are from 1 to 3 stories high. The ground floor is used for parking or for commercial purposes. The structural system consists of reinforced concrete frames with masonry infill walls made out of hollow brick tiles. The infill walls are usually provided in the residential part of the building (upper floors). Due to the limited amount of infill walls at the ground floor level, these buildings are characterized by soft-story behavior during earthquakes. These buildings have most often been built after the development of the 1981 Algerian seismic code. However, the seismic code is not enforced in private construction and most of the buildings have been built without seismic strengthening provisions and historically have been severely affected in Algerian earthquakes, including the May 21, 2003 Boumerdes earthquake. This report does not describe reinforced concrete frame buildings financed by public or private property developers and built according to the seismic code.


Report # 97 : Medium/high rise moment resisting reinforced concrete frame building

by Maria D. Bostenaru

Such buildings generally range from 10 to 17 storeys in height with the ground floor being used for commercial purposes, whilst the upper floors house residential units. The vertical load bearing structure consists of moment-resisting reinforced-concrete frames which also generally serve as the lateral load-resisting system. However, when larger spans are encountered, reinforced-concrete structural walls are included to provide a dual structural system. Masonry infills built from lightweight concrete masonry units provide architectural space delineation. The seismic performance of such buildings constructed prior to 1977 varies from no damage to complete collapse. To date damage has usually been attributable to conceptual and construction mistakes.


Report # 96 : Early RC frame condominium building with masonry infill walls designed for gravity loads only

by Maria D. Bostenaru

This urban housing construction was practiced in Romania from 1907-1945, but predominantly in the 1930s, in the capital city of Bucharest. These buildings are mid- or high-rise (5-10 upper floors), often with two basements. Although there are several functional variations according to the usage and combination of flats, offices, and shops, this report discusses exclusive housing use. The number of housing units is variable. While smaller mid-rise buildings may contain one large luxury unit on each floor, taller buildings may include as many as eight small one-room flats, sometimes without a kitchen. The shape of the plan, containing L, U, H, or forms that cannot be described geometrically, and the elevation of the building are highly irregular. Upper floors may have recesses in the facade and may have corner towers. The load-bearing structure is RC skeleton designed for gravitational loads only. Columns are unevenly distributed so that beams at least one end are supported as secondary beams. Some beams are supported by columns with inadequate reinforcement or reduced sections of the RC members impede the formation of moment-resisting frames. The facade walls have solid clay brick masonry infill and improve the seismic behavior. The beneficial effect of masonry infill is influenced by the wall thickness, the size/position of openings in walls and the position of the partition wall to the frame. Staircases and elevators weaken the structure by introducing concentrated holes in flexible, thin RC slabs. Bucharest is located on alluvial soil deposits on river banks. Sandy ground or high levels of underground water have often presented problems for the foundation of buildings. Damaging earthquakes (M>7.0), centered in Vrancea, recur three times every century. These buildings were affected by the 1940 and 1977 earthquakes, but performed well relative to their high vulnerability. Out of the 61 buildings heavily damaged in the 1977 earthquake, 28 were of this type but were high-rise (7-9 floors).


Report # 71 : Reinforced concrete frame structure with diagonal bracing and brick infill walls

by Maria D. Bostenaru, Ilie Sandu

This is a post-World War II variant of the well-known Romanian ‘inter-bellum’ building. This urban housing construction was practiced in Romania over a rather short period of time after World War II until nationalization in 1947. Buildings of this type are still in use, mainly as apartment buildings. They are typically 7 to 11 stories high and the main load-bearing structure consists of a reinforced concrete space frame with reinforced concrete diagonal bracings. The floor structure consists of RC solid slabs and beams cast-in-place. The frames are infilled with brick masonry walls (typical wall thickness 140 mm or 280 mm). These buildings were designed according to the temporary guidelines issued in 1941 by the Ministry of Public Works (MLP) and based on German recommendations. This region is well known as a seismically prone area, with the epicenter of damaging earthquakes close to Vrancea. Earthquakes of Richter magnitude over 7.0 occur once in 30 years. Bucharest, the capital, is located around 150 km south of the epicenter and lies in the main direction of the propagation of seismic waves. The Bucharest area is located on the banks of the Dâmbovita and Colentina rivers, on non-homogeneous alluvial soil deposits. During the earthquake of 4 March 1977 (Richter magnitude 7.2), over 30 buildings collapsed in Bucharest, killing 1,424 people. It should be noted that although buildings of this construction type experienced severe damage (mainly cracking in the columns and the brick masonry infill walls) collapse was not reported. After the 1977 Vrancea earthquake, the damaged buildings were repaired and strengthened. One of the buildings described in this contribution was retrofitted by strengthening the existing columns with new reinforced concrete jackets and by replacing the existing brick masonry infill walls with new lightweight concrete block walls. The diagonal bracings were removed as a part of the retrofit. Another example shows a triangular-shaped building with the original bracing preserved during the retrofit.


Report # 67 : Popular, non-engineered urban housing on flat terrain

by Argimiro C. Gandica, Francisco L. Almansa

This is an urban housing construction type found in the Andean states of Venezuela. In some cities, e.g., Merida, this construction accounts for 40% of the total building stock. Typical buildings of this type are two to three stories high. Typically, there are two or three bays in the longitudinal direction (spaced at 3 to 4 m) and four or five bays in the transverse direction (4 to 5 m apart). The main load-bearing system consists of reinforced concrete frame (columns and beams) with hollow clay tile, and masonry-infill walls. The roof structure consists of lightweight roofing (zinc and/or acclimatized galvanized sheets) supported by I-shaped steel beams. The building’s roof level is used as a terrace with a one-meter-high masonry parapet, which serves as a guardrail on the slab perimeter. This is a non-engineered construction, i.e., these buildings are constructed by the owners. Because of the lack of adequate detailing in the longitudinal and transverse steel reinforcement bars, beam-column connections are inadequate and do not provide the continuity required for adequate seismic performance.