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New inexpensive earthquake resistant houses

July 17, 2012
Researchers have successfully tested a new system to build earthquake resistant houses of high interest to third world countries with earthquakes.

Image Construction of an IMS prototype filled with adobe.
Credit: UPM

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 low cost.

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 construction system.

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.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by madrimasd. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. B. Orta, R. Bustamante, J. M. Adell. Estudio experimental del Sistema de Albañilería Integral en la construcción de viviendas sismorresistentes. Materiales de Construcción, 2012; 62 (305): 67 DOI: 10.3989/mc.2012.63810

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madrimasd. "New inexpensive earthquake resistant houses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2012. <>.
madrimasd. (2012, July 17). New inexpensive earthquake resistant houses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 30, 2015 from
madrimasd. "New inexpensive earthquake resistant houses." ScienceDaily. (accessed November 30, 2015).

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