UPM's construction system

Madrid researchers design earthquake resistant homes

Madrid's technical university has designed a new system to build earthquake resistant houses to third world countries hit by earthquakes.

Researchers at UPM have developed and tested a new construction system, called Integral Masonry System (IMS), which has shown that once a house is built with the 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, the researchers 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 low cost.

The system 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 UPM.

The results obtained have demonstrated the high potential of the proposed construction system, the researchers say.

The IMS provided 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.

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