Reinforced concrete walls and diaphragms:  a research series


Co-supervisor: Stefano Pampanin


The Quake Centre melds the best of academic research with industry knowledge with a focus on improved solutions for seismic resilience.


By their very nature earthquakes are not typecast but multidimensional in character. Simply put, earthquakes do not follow a set pattern - they are not ‘uni-directional’ -so different seismic activity causes a unique set of stresses on a building and, more importantly, during the same seismic event the building is shaken in multiple directions.


The damage to buildings following the 2010/2011 Canterbury Earthquake sequence (and also recent Chile seismic events) highlighted a general lack of understanding on the actual performance of walls when subject to seismic actions.


Some unexpected repercussions included failure modes observed in building walls, likely triggered by a combination of in-plane and out-of plane loading (bi-directional movement).


Helping to lead the way in the development of engineering solutions for seismic-resistant buildings is Stefano Pampanin, Professor of Structural Design and Earthquake Engineering at University of Canterbury (UC) which he joined in 2002 and, since recently, Professor of Structural Engineering at La Sapienza University of Rome


He is the Principal Investigator of a research project entitled ‘Bidirectional response and performance of rectangular shear walls,’ working in collaboration with UC Professor Rajesh Dhakal and Adjunct Professor Desmond Bull.


“Our main goal with this research is to contribute to a better understanding on the seismic performance and response of reinforced concrete rectangular shear walls when subject to a more realistic bidirectional loading - as with what happens during earthquakes,” says Professor Pampanin.


He explains further, “a key objective is to assess the effects of bidirectional loading (3D response) on the type of damage and failure modes of shear walls when compared to what typically expected under more conventional uni-directional (2D) loading regimes.”


“Also, to develop evidence-based recommendations to account for the effects of bidirectional loading in both the design of new walls and the assessment of existing ones.”


It is this type of research that helps to verify the reliability of building guidelines and improve current practice for both the design of new walls and the assessment of existing ones, to be adopted by engineers in their daily practice.


In line with CERC (Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission) recommendations, it will continue to take this kind of rigorous research coupled with industry-identified issues and engineering expertise to develop appropriate engineering results and to gain new standards in earthquake safety.


The Quake Centre is proud to support the research of Professor Stefano Pampanin, in line with the overarching aim to improve seismic performance and community resilience.




Thank you to the Quake Centre and MBIE - their financial assistance helps to make this research possible.














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