Structural resistance of reinforced concrete buildings in areas of moderate seismicity and assessment of strategies for structural improvement

© 2017 by the authors. Moderate magnitude seismic events have occurred during the last decade in non-seismic areas and have highlighted that many existing buildings do not sufficiently resist these types of events. The objective of this work is to illustrate that most buildings dating from 2002-2010 constructed from wide beams, which were designed to previous earthquake resistance codes, do not offer a satisfactory seismic behaviour, and to identify which structural attributes can best help alleviate this problem. In this work the effect of a real earthquake of medium magnitude (Lorca, 2011) on buildings of three, five and eight stories with unidirectional frames of wide-beam concrete was assessed. The methodology included non-linear static (pushover) analyses and dynamic response simulations with the aim to understand the effect on the seismic performance of changing some of the geometrical and material parameters. Maximum displacements and capacity curves for the top floor of a set of representative buildings were evaluated and compared. In particular, capacity curves obtained from non-linear static (pushover) analysis are compared for different building configurations, as well as the maximum displacements obtained through non-linear dynamic analysis. This paper highlights the seismic vulnerability of buildings constructed between 2002 and 2010 and the results indicate that a higher density of infill walls (walls whose bricks are not part of the main structure) is the feature that most significantly improves the seismic behaviour of the structures analysed. Moreover, counterintuitively, incorporating stronger concrete and reinforcing steel and using alternative column arrangements only have a small positive effect on the seismic behaviour of these types of buildings.