The seismic behaviour of old existing buildings is affected by their original structural inadequacies, material degradation due to time, and alterations carried out during use over the years such as making new openings, addition of new parts inducing dissymmetry in plan and elevation, etc. The possibility of substituting them with new earthquake resistant buildings is generally neglected due to historical, artistic, social and economical reasons. The complete replacement of the buildings in a given area will also lead to destroying a number of social and human links. Therefore seismic strengthening of existing damaged or undamaged buildings can be a definite requirement in same areas.

Strengthening is an improvement over the original strength when the evaluation of the building indicates that the strength available before the damage was insufficient and restoration alone will not be adequate in future quakes. The extent of the modifications must be determined by the general principles and design methods stated in earlier chapters, and should not be limited to increasing the strength of members that have been damaged, but should consider the overall behavior of the structure.

 Commonly, strengthening procedures should aim at one or more of the following objectives:

  • Increasing the lateral strength in one or both directions, by reinforcement or by increasing wall areas or the number of walls and columns.
  • (ii) Giving unity to the structure by providing a proper connection between its resisting elements, in such a way that inertia forces generated by the vibration of the building can be transmitted to the members that have the ability to resist them. Typical important aspects are the connections between roofs or floors and walls, between intersecting walls and between walls and foundations.
  • (iii) Eliminating features that are sources of weakness or that produce concentrations of stresses in some members. Asymmetrical plan distribution of resisting members, abrupt changes of stiffness from one floor to the other, concentration of large masses, large openings in walls without a proper peripheral reinforcement are examples of defect of this kind.
  • (iv) Avoiding the possibility of brittle modes of failure by proper reinforcement and connection of resisting members. Since its cost may go to as high as 50 to 60% of the cost of rebuilding, the justification of such strengthening must be fully considered. The extent of modification must be found using the principles of strengthening discussed in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 and in accordance with the local factors applicable to each building.

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