Development of a displacement-based design approach for modern mixed RC-URM wall structures

  • Paparoa, Alessandro (Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics (EESD), School of Architectural, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)) ;
  • Beyer, Katrin (Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics (EESD), School of Architectural, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL))
  • Received : 2014.07.29
  • Accepted : 2015.06.08
  • Published : 2015.10.25


The recent re-assessment of the seismic hazard in Europe led for many regions of low to moderate seismicity to an increase in the seismic demand. As a consequence, several modern unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings, constructed with reinforced concrete (RC) slabs that provide an efficient rigid diaphragm action, no longer satisfy the seismic design check and have been retrofitted by adding or replacing URM walls with RC walls. Of late, also several new construction projects have been conceived directly as buildings with both RC and URM walls. Despite the widespread use of such construction technique, very little is known about the seismic behaviour of mixed RC-URM wall structures and codes do not provide adequate support to designers. The aim of the paper is therefore to propose a displacement-based design methodology for the design of mixed RC-URM edifices and the retrofit of URM buildings by replacing or adding selected URM walls with RC ones. The article describes also two tools developed for estimating important quantities relevant for the displacement-based design of structures with both RC and URM walls. The tools are (i) a mechanical model based on the shear-flexure interaction between URM and RC walls and (ii) an elastic model for estimating the contribution of the RC slabs to the overturning moment capacity of the system. In the last part of the article the proposed design method is verified through nonlinear dynamic analyses of several case studies. These results show that the proposed design approach has the ability of controlling the displacement profile of the designed structures, avoiding concentration of deformations in one single storey, a typical feature of URM wall structures.


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