[GSBN] earthquake-proof adobe walls

Graeme North graeme at ecodesign.co.nz
Tue Aug 18 00:52:29 CDT 2009

The New Zealand  Earth Building Standards deal with this very issue,  
NZ being a seismic place

NZS 4297:1998 deals with seismic loading


Graeme North Architects
49 Matthew Road
tel/fax +64 (0)9 4259305

graeme at ecodesign.co.nz

On 17/08/2009, at 10:13 AM, Derek Roff wrote:

> "Earthquake-proof" is a misnomer for the discussion on the earthbag  
> list, which was triggered by video on increasing the survival rate  
> of people living in adobe houses in earthquake zones.  We are a  
> long way from making anything earthquake "proof".  I would argue  
> that the science and engineering of more seismically-resistant  
> adobe design and construction techniques are in disagreement with  
> many statements in that list's recent postings.
> I'm unclear why Bruce didn't give a little more guidance on  
> researching the subject.  Perhaps there is a subtle clue in his  
> message, that I haven't deciphered.  Those interested in Googling  
> on this topic might start with the name, "Marcial Blondet."  He is  
> one of the professors at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del  
> Perú who has been working on the question of improving earthquake  
> survivability for those who live in adobe structures in seismic  
> areas, which includes a significant fraction of the world's  
> population.  I saw him speak at the 2007 Adobe Conference in El  
> Rito, New Mexico, and I think he is a very impressive guy.  I think  
> he and Bruce have done some amount of collaboration on earth  
> building research and standards.
> Marcial and his collaborators are trying to come up with ways of  
> building that will save as many lives as possible, in places with  
> very low incomes and very limited access to complex materials and  
> seismic expertise.  It's very important work.  Their focus is  
> saving lives, not saving buildings, although there is an obvious  
> relationship between the two.  The difference that I think has been  
> misunderstood on the other list, is that the researchers don't  
> expect many more houses to be useable after an earthquake.  They  
> just want the inhabitants to remain alive.  It's sort of like the  
> airbag in a car.  The airbag isn't reusable, and it doesn't protect  
> the car, it just protects the occupant.
> Most of us are starting/living in different places with different  
> circumstances, and that leads to different choices.  Many of us  
> would like to find ways that increase the chances for our houses to  
> survive somewhat stronger earthquakes, while remaining in usable  
> condition. The welded wire mesh used in California for seismic  
> reasons has some technical advantages over the plastic mesh that  
> Marcial has suggested for mass housing in Peru.  It just costs a  
> bit more.  Cost is a paramount issue for his concerns, whereas most  
> of us are ready and able to spend a little more for superior  
> performance.
> Darcey Donovan's work on increasing earthquake resistance for low- 
> budget strawbale buildings in Pakistan and Marcial's work with  
> adobe use some similar techniques.
> I hope of this answers some of your questions and concerns, Joyce.
> Derek
> --On Sunday, August 16, 2009 1:13 PM -0700 Bruce King  
> <ecobruce at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>> There is a gigantic bucket of technical papers and field research
>> on  seismically-resistant adobe construction, a great deal of it
>> coming  from some wonderful engineers at Catholic University of
>> Lima.
>> A GiGANtic bucket.  Don't ask me where;  just start googling,
>> you'll  find most of it.
>> Thanks,
>> Bruce King
>> (415) 987-7271
>> bruce-king.com
>> On Aug 16, 2009, at 12:41 PM, Joyce Coppinger wrote:
>>> Have any of you been following a thread on earthbag listserv
>>> (Yahoo   groups)
>>> about earth-quake proof adobe walls in Peru? If so, do you have any
>>> comments, insights to share?
>>> Joyce
>>> ---------------
>>> Joyce Coppinger
>>> Managing Editor/Publisher
>>> The Last Straw, the international journal
>>> of strawbale and natural building
>>> PO Box 22706, Lincoln NE 68542-2706
>>> 402.483.5135, fax 402.483.5161
>>> <thelaststraw at thelaststraw.org>
>>> www.thelaststraw.org
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> Derek Roff
> Language Learning Center
> Ortega Hall 129, MSC03-2100
> University of New Mexico
> Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
> 505/277-7368, fax 505/277-3885
> Internet: derek at unm.edu
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