Earthquakes can be the single most devastating
natural event, with many lives claimed due to the
failure of residential buildings. Whilst there are many
building codes and guidelines for building back better
to create new, seismic resistant buildings, this option
may not be affordable to all whose houses remain
standing, but are still at risk of experiencing an
earthquake. Seismic retrofitting is defined by Arya
“...actions for upgrading the seismic
resistance of an existing building so that it
becomes safer under the occurrence of
probable future earthquakes”.
Figure 1: Girl in a place of risk from the
damaged building, Peru. Photo: Soluciones
This brief will look at some methods of retrofitting traditional and ‘non-engineered’ housing, with
suggestions of how to decide which method is appropriate.
Damage types in unreinforced masonry
Out of plane
Diagonal cracks at
Figure 2: Damage typologies in unreinforced masonry.
Unreinforced masonry, whether it is made of stone, adobe bricks, or fired bricks, is a widely used
method of building in many developing countries. The methods of retrofitting will focus on these
types of buildings as they are most commonly the homes of people who would require affordable
retrofit solutions. However, slightly more intrusive, and therefore potentially expensive methods
will also be included to give an idea of the possibilities available.
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