Best Engineering Tips for an Earthquake Proof Multi-Story Building

When earthquakes occur, they devastate cities by killing people and causing untold damage to property. Moreover, a high-magnitude earthquake can destroy civil structures including bridges, skyscrapers and residential homes. The intensified shaking of buildings might lead to loss of property or even lives as mentioned above, especially in residential areas. Therefore, high-rise residential buildings located in earthquake prone areas should be designed to resist earthquakes. You do not have to break the bank to afford such plans. This article reviews some engineering tips for earthquake-proof buildings that owners of multi-story residential buildings might find interesting.

Causes of Structural Failure -- Several factors can cause a building to fail during an earthquake. Notably, the weight of a structure coupled with horizontal and vertical forces of a quake are the major contributors of building collapse. Additionally, the quality of construction materials and layout can cause a building to fail or withstand an earthquake. For instance, weak joint components such as slabs, roof, beams, and walls cause a structure to shift independently thereby leading to separation of these parts. For stability, lower floors should be designed with minimal but extremely firm joints, which can be incremented as you move towards the top-most levels to save cost.

Base Isolation -- Flexible bearing pads are installed between a building's foundation and walling to act as some form of frictionless rollers. During an earthquake, horizontal and vertical forces are transferred to the bearing pads instead of the building. However, this technology is only ideal for medium and low-rise buildings. The most common base isolators are lead rubber bearing due to their strength and flexibility in the horizontal axis. For horizontal and vertical sliding of a building, spherical sliding isolation should be preferred.

Seismic Dampers -- Synonymous to shock absorbers, seismic dampers dissipate seismic energy and prevents the building from collapsing. The seismic dampers are installed to replace diagonal bracing, which offers lateral stability to a structure. Examples of seismic dampers to choose from include metallic yielding dampers, frictional dampers, and viscous dampers.  Dampers are available in different ratings to suit heavy load or displacement use in multi-story residential buildings.

Seismic Retrofitting -- Old buildings can be protected from earthquakes by using various retrofitting technologies. For instance, you can reinforce the building's columns by affixing fiber reinforcement to the columns. You can also opt for steel plates for strengthening the columns. Other reinforcement techniques for the walls include structural slits that improve the toughness of the structure, and hence, prevent failure. Steel brace supports also help to hold the walls firmly in the event of an earthquake.