Basic Building Principle for Earthquake Safety

Seismic activity is defined as the types, frequency and size of earthquakes that happen over a period of time in a certain area. Private commercial building owners and investors need to understand how they can update their properties or build new ones to ensure that they are as safe as possible during seismic events.

In case of earthquakes, seismic codes or building codes are designed to protect property and lifeThe need for such codes is reflected in the saying, \”Earthquakes don\’t kill people—buildings do.\” Or in expanded version, “Earthquakes do not injure or kill people. Poorly built man-made structures injure and kill people.”

Seismic codes were created and developed as a response to major earthquakes which have caused devastation in highly populated regions. Often these are revised based on knowledge gained from recent earthquakes and research findings, and as such they are constantly evolving. 

Over the years, engineers and scientists have devised techniques to create some effective earthquake-proof buildingsToday, even if we have the most  innovative materials, it is not yet possible to withstand a powerful earthquake leaving an unscathed building.

It\’s success lies on allowing the occupants to escape without the building collapsing. 

Engineering consultant and scientific researcher like Pedram Zohrevand, shares ways in which builders and investors can make sure their properties are safe and secure under severe seismic conditions following basic principle for earthquake safety.

Buildings are mostly designed to support vertical loads, such as a dead load from materials and fixed equipment and live loads from furniture, partitions, and people using the building.

Also, factors like addressing local geologic conditions, common construction types, historic issues, etc., are to be considered as fundamental approaches in designing an Earth-quake proof building. Engineers and scientific researchers came up with  prescriptive rules and technical requirements. 

\”The requirements included a design lateral base shear V = 0.08 W for regular use buildings, 0.10 W for school buildings and 0.04 W for the portion of a building above a flexible story. Building weight (seismic mass) was defined as W = Dead load + 0.5 Live load (except 1.0 Live for warehouses). Building frames were required to be designed to withstand at least 0.25V independent of any walls.\”

This is a good understanding of what loads are considered when designing a structure.

In earthquake-prone areas, the buildings must also be protected against lateral or sideways movements. To make a structure safe against the lateral movement, a proper lateral/seismic load resisting system, such as a shear wall, moment frame, braced frame, etc. should be designed for the building.

So, what makes a building Earth-quake proof?

  • Flexible foundation
  • Counteract forces with dumping through Pendulum Power
  • Vibration control devices
  • Use building shields from vibrations
  • Reinforce the building\’s structure
  • Earthquake-resistant materials like steel / metal architecture
In designing earthquake resistant buildings, materials is the key! Innovative solutions based on advanced materials are created such as the impressive feature made in Taipei 101 that has 730-ton active mass damper at the top of the building. The huge sphere act as a pendulum that counteracts the building\’s movements. It reduces uncomfortable vibrations that could cause stress on the structure if the building begins to sway.

Great projects like this, requires a deep foundation system with  practical details and approaches to constructing unusual building features that can withstand seismic activities.


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