New Computational Method for Seismic Retrofitting of Historic Masonry Structures with the Use of Base Isolation

Researchers from the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana proposed a novel approach of computational modelling of the response of masonry structures to seismic actions and the method for the selection of a proper type of base isolation devices for installation into cultural and historic buildings.


Authors: Simon Petrovčič, Vojko Kilar


With the use of conventional restoration construction techniques in historic masonry buildings we can achieve a high level of seismic safety, but such measures are also highly invasive and demand relatively intensive interventions in the building, and as a consequence also affect the building’s historical and cultural substance. In seismic-prone areas around the world, seismic base isolation is also employed in certain cases. The basic functional principle of such a system is that by increasing the period of vibration and damping of the coupled system the level of forces generated on the structure during seismic actions is greatly reduced. For this purpose, special bearings, which are usually installed at the level of the structure’s foundations, are used. This means that in such cases large-scale interventions in the building are limited. In this context, the use of the seismic base isolation in historic masonry structures is a unique solution because it provides increased seismic resistance by reducing seismic forces on the building. The complexity of the installation of such devices and a relatively high price limit its implementation to the most valuable cultural heritage buildings.

In the first phase of the research, the researchers of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana (Simon Petrovčič and Vojko Kilar) developed a novel approach to computational modelling of the response of masonry structures to seismic loads. In the second phase a method for the selection of the proper type of isolation devices for their installation into cultural and historic buildings was proposed, taking into account the permitted level of seismic damage to a particular historical building, which is chosen jointly by project engineers and the owner, conservation specialists and a heritage manager.


Source: PETROVČIČ, Simon, KILAR, Vojko. Seismic retrofitting of historic masonry structures with the use of base isolation – modelling and analysis aspects. International Journal of Architectural Heritage: Conservation, Analysis and Restoration, ISSN 1558-3058. [Print ed.], 2017, vol. 11, iss. 2, pages 229-246.