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New earthquake resistant houses have been designed
17 July 2012
Researchers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have successfully
tested a new system to build earthquake resistant houses of high interest
to third world countries with earthquakes.
As a result of a research carried out by researchers at the E.T.S. of
Architecture of the UPM, they have developed and tested a new construction
system, Integral Masonry System (IMS). The results of these tests proved
that once a house is built with this stable permanent system without
significant cracks and once its cracks are repaired, the building is able
to continue resisting severe earthquakes.
Many of the existing houses in seismic areas of low economic resources are
built with adobe, hollow brick or concrete block. All of them are
materials that proved not to be suitable by themselves to build earthquake
resistant houses. From this idea, they developed a project for third world
countries in order to give an alternative constructive solution which was
able to give guaranties of reliability against natural disaster and at a
This system (IMS) uses prefabricated trusses made with steel rods, very
light and easy to install by hand, intersecting in the three directions of
space to build the walls and floors that are then filled with debris, mud,
brick or block for walls. The system can incorporate only a plank on the
slab to give rigidity.
To verify the safety of this new building for construction in seismic
zones of third world countries, they tested prototypes carried out by
using the system (IMS): two of them at half scale, one prototype filled
with adobe, other prototype filled with hollow brick and the third
prototype made at scale. The tests were conducted at the Antiseismic
Structures Laboratory and at the Pontificia Católica Universidad del Perú
(PUCP) in Lima and coordinated by researchers at the Universidad
Politécnica Madrid (UPM) Belén Orta, Rosa Bustamente y José María Adell.
The results obtained have demonstrated the high potential of the proposed
The IMS provide an easy system of house building with typologies adapted
to the form of the local life in which they want to apply it and at a
minimum cost. It is an easy option of construction because it does not
require concrete and it uses local materials what it is profitable for
countries in development. In addition, this alternative construction
system allows us to rebuild homes demolished by an earthquake with the
necessary security of
1 Orta B; Bustamante R; Adell JM. Experimental study of the Integral
Masonry System in the construction of earthquake resistant houses.
MATERIALES DE CONSTRUCCION 62 (305): 67-77. DOI: 10.3989/mc.2012.63810.
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Ciencia y Sociedad
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