Low-Cost and Low-Tech Reinforcement Systems for Improved Earthquake Resistance of Mud Brick Buildings

The Getty Conservation Institute
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the Getty Seismic Adobe Project 2006 Colloquium, 2009, pp. 23 - 33
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Traditional, unreinforced adobe mud brick structures are highly susceptible to damage and destruction during seismic events. This vulnerability is evident in historic adobe structures around the world, as well as in traditional adobe homes in developing countries where severe earthquakes repeatedly cause drastic losses of life and livelihood. Adobe research at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, is focused on the development of low-cost, low-tech reinforcement systems for adobe structures. To date, ten U-shaped adobe wall panels and one full model house (1:2 scale) with different reinforcing systems have been subjected to transient dynamic loading using a shake table to evaluate the response to seismic forces. Time-scaled input spectra have been used to ensure dynamic similitude and impart sufficient energy to each structure to induce damaging conditions. The force-displacement characteristics and failure mechanisms of each structure have been studied to determine the resistance capacity of each system. Results indicate that a major improvement in structural performance can be achieved by using stiff external vertical reinforcement (e.g., bamboo), external horizontal reinforcement (e.g., bamboo or wire), and a timber ring/crown beam. This integrated matrix acts to restrain movement and enhance the overall strength of the structure. Tests have shown this system to effectively delay the onset of initial cracking and prevent collapse, even during severe shaking. The proposed system is effective, simple, affordable, and widely adaptable to a variety of materials and local conditions. It can be used for the retrofit-strengthening of existing structures, as well as in new construction. It shows tremendous promise for application in developing countries and for the protection and preservation of historic adobe structures around the world.
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