More efficient seismic protection in modern timber construction

09.10.2023 In modern architecture, many buildings have walls with numerous openings, some of them large. In order to efficiently plan seismic protection measures in timber construction, researchers are developing a method for the modelling, design and construction of timber frame shear walls with openings.

In modern architecture, many buildings consist of large open spaces and windows, which poses a challenge for timber construction. According to the current standard, timber frame walls with large openings must be considered non-load-bearing in terms of lateral loads due to wind and seismic activity. Due to the seismic safety requirements, numerous strong anchors have to be installed, which increases the costs. However, a research project at BFH’s Institute for Timber Construction, Structures and Architecture IHTA has shown that the areas around the openings do contribute to the stabilisation of the building. In a project funded by the Wood Action Plan, an experimentally validated method will now be developed for the modelling, design and construction of timber frame shear walls with openings.

Collaboration between research and teaching

The project is a cooperation between Bern University of Applied Sciences, the Structural Engineering Research Lab of Empa, the Institute of Structural Engineering of ETH Zurich, and two federations, Holzbau Schweiz and Swiss Timber Engineers. Close collaboration between research and teaching within the project also enables students to participate in current developments in timber construction. Hence, a doctoral student at Empa and ETH is working on the project, and four bachelor’s and one master’s thesis have already been written at BFH. Further theses are in the planning stage.

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