Six-year Project for Evaluation and Mitigation of Seismic Risk for Composite Masonry buildings ends

Situated in the young Himalayan range, Bhutan is prone to earthquakes. And building earthquake-resilient structures is crucial. To test the strength of the composite masonry structures to earthquakes, the Department of Culture in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA conducted the final test and demonstration recently. The demonstration marked the end of the six-year project.

The test which included stress tests and shaking table tests among others was conducted on a replica of the composite masonry building constructed in the department of culture.

“In this demonstration, we have conducted a full-scale earthquake test with a whole two-storied house. We even demonstrated a shaking table test to the effect of the earthquake with smaller model houses. This is to safeguard houses against future earthquakes,” said Kunzang Tenzin, the Deputy Executive Engineer of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

One of the solutions presented during the test was the usage of the mesh-wrapped retrofitting technique during construction. In this, the walls are wrapped with mesh from both outside and inside of the building to protect stone masonry and rammed earth houses from earthquakes.

“This project is working on the traditional buildings which Bhutanese live in and still do. 60 per cent of the people in this country still live in traditional houses, so we try to strengthen these houses against earthquakes through experiments and improvement in designing,” said Yamada Tomoyuki, Chief Representative of JICA.

As part of the six-year project, the department has developed construction guidelines and manuals for seismically resilient traditional buildings and trained craftsmen in making traditional buildings more resilient to earthquakes.

The Project for Evaluation and Mitigation of Seismic Risk for Composite Masonry buildings started in April 2017 in the country with financial support from the Japanese Government.

Tshering Deki

Edited by Sonam Pem

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