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Earthquake proof buildings

October 21, 2019

The tragedy of the loss of life during an earthquake is not caused by the earthquake itself, but by the houses that collapse under its earthquakes. After numerous major earthquakes, the question is whether it is possible to build a house that is resistant to them. The answer is both yes and no. During a very powerful earthquake, even the best-designed buildings can suffer major damage. Engineers design buildings to withstand as much lateral movement as possible to minimize damage to the structure and thus allow more time for people to get out safely.

All buildings are designed to support vertical load but earthquakes represent the lateral load of a building that is a little more complex. One way to make simple construction more resilient to these lateral forces is to tie walls, floors, roofs, and foundations into a sturdy box that holds together when an earthquake shakes them.

The most dangerous construction of earthquake impact buildings is a non-reinforced brick or concrete block where the walls are made of bricks stacked on top of one another and held by mortar. The roof is laid over the top. The weight of the roof is carried straight through the wall to the foundation. When this type of construction is exposed to the lateral force of an earthquake, the walls overturn or collapse and the roof breaks into the structure of the house.

Other techniques, such as "base insulation," are used in the construction of large buildings (which become larger over time). For the last 30 years, engineers have constructed skyscrapers hovering on ball bearing systems, springs and padded cylinders. They act as a shock absorber in the car and allow the building to be separated from the ground tremors because they do not sit directly on the ground and are thus protected from some earthquakes. The buildings are surrounded by certain buffer zones so that they do not approach other structures.

Another technique for reducing the swing of a tall building is to build a few tonnes of mass that can swing on top of the building contrary to the swing of the building. Such devices can reduce the slope of the building by 30-40%.

It is interesting to mention the idea of the Japanese company Air Danshin: levitation houses. This house stands, during more stable times, on a deflated airbag. When the sensors are shaking, they turn on the compressor in seconds. The compressor pumps air into the airbag, inflating it within seconds, eventually lifting the entire house about three inches from its earthquake concrete foundation. As this structure floats, its inhabitants can behave as they do every other day. When the earthquake passes, the airbag blows out and the house cools slightly.


Source: http://www.airdanshin.jp/


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