Low-cost, earthquake-resilient housing using confined masonry


More than 50% of India’s land area is prone to damaging earthquakes and the vast majority of buildings housing the lower income and economically weaker populations are not structurally adequate to withstand such events. This research seeks to develop an alternative housing solution more suitable for the Indian context. Currently the predominant home construction typologies are unreinforced masonry and reinforced concrete (RCC) frames with masonry infill. Confined masonry is an alternative which combines the aspirational qualities of these typologies with a more reliable structural system. Furthermore, confined masonry uses less steel and concrete than a proper RCC frame and hence costs less. This structure looks quite similar to a RCC frame when completed but it transfers seismic loads to the ground in a way that engages the full wall, greatly reducing the stress on the concrete members. Confined masonry construction is practiced widely in South America and some Asian countries, but is still foreign to Indian builders and engineers.

People in Centre (PiC) is an Ahmedabad-based architecture firm that operates solely in the realm of disaster relief and prevention. This research is providing structural analysis and recommendations help PiC promote confined masonry for their work on a federal housing project. This project will provide homes to beneficiaries throughout Gujarat, a highly seismic region of India, with structural integrity as a main criteria.

The current research also seeks to explore analytical modeling of alternative structural components, such as concrete reinforcement to improve the constructability of confined masonry and help empower local artisans with the capability to build a seismically resilient home.

IMPACT: Results from this research have been incorporated into the building code of the state of Gujarat, India.


Project Media:

THESIS: Confined masonry for seismically resilient low-cost housing in India : a design and analysis method (Christopher Porst)

Low Cost, Earthquake Resilient Housing: Confined Masonry