Concrete Construction

What are the Design Elements of Earthquake Resistant Buildings

Knowing how to preserve our infrastructure from natural catastrophes should be entrenched in the Filipino building industry. The Philippines is no stranger to earthquakes, as it is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which has the most volatile seismic activity on the planet due to the numerous sites where tectonic plates collide.

One of the most catastrophic consequences of earthquakes is infrastructure breakdown, which damages not only the structure but also its contents. It also causes damage to the surrounding areas, especially if the building is substantial.

As a result, there is a significant amount of engineering that goes into protecting a building from seismic activity. In this section, we set out the fundamental characteristics that allow a building to withstand earthquakes.

Use of light, flexible materials

The selection of light and flexible materials is the first step in building an earthquake-resistant structure. The fact that these materials are ductile means that they can endure stress and distortion. Wood, steel, and even bamboo are examples of ductile materials. During a quake, these materials allow structures to bend and shift without breaking.

Reinforcement of structure

Buildings must practically prepare themselves to resist a quake. That is why architects and engineers ensure that concrete is reinforced with steel. A robust concrete column must be supported by a large number of steel bars aimed at keeping a column stable during seismic movement.

Typically, extra steel would be added to the top and bottom of columns to make them secure. Steel bars are also held in place by bending 135-degree loops rather than just aligning them. Insufficient steel reinforcing will result in a brittle column that will most likely collapse during a quake. 

Large columns can also help channel swinging motion in larger buildings. The shinbashira, a massive center pillar situated in the middle of tall structures, is another prominent ancient earthquake-proofing architecture from Japan that performs something similar. The shinbashira functions as a pendulum and the design have been used by large structures in Taiwan and New York.

Shear walls are another type of extra reinforcement construction that can channel the swaying motions caused by seismic activity down into the foundation to help absorb the energy.

Base isolation The basic component in earthquake-proofing structures is to absorb as much energy from side-to-side oscillations as possible, similar to a shock absorber. Another method is to lay down flexible foundations.

Large infrastructure designers may choose base isolation, which involves constructing infrastructure on flexible pads that can sway in response to seismic activity. These pads are commonly formed of ductile materials such as steel, rubber, and lead. When there is a quake, the base sways while the structure itself remains relatively static. As an additional precaution, these bases can be outfitted with seismic dampers that absorb the energy. 

Force dampers

Another method for making structures more adaptable is to use force dampers. These dampers absorb a building’s oscillations through friction, converting kinetic energy into heat and allowing it to dissolve. These dampers are often installed diagonally between columns and beams throughout infrastructure’s levels.

A tuned mass damper is another piece of technology that dampens earthquakes. These are simply ball pendulums situated in the center of the building so that when seismic activity occurs, the ball sways in the opposite direction of the quake, so canceling out force. Taiwan’s Taipei 101 tuned mass damper, the world’s largest and heaviest of its kind is a prime example of this.

Self-check the sturdiness of your home

In the Philippines, there has long been talked of “The Big One,” a huge earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 that is supposed to hit Metro Manila. With a fault line stretching from Bulacan to Laguna, it has the potential to cause widespread devastation if buildings are not equipped to withstand it.

Assess the structural integrity of your home with this self-checklist, which includes elements such as the age and shape of your property, the thickness of its concrete, the grounding of your structure, and more. One of the fundamental goals of the building business is to keep communities safe from natural disasters.

Engineers and architects are continually creating new designs and technology to keep structures robust in the face of earthquakes. After all, it is buildings, not earthquakes, that can harm people.

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