Large-scale testing for enhancing the resilience of schools in seismic regions: challenges and cost-efficient solutions

Anastasios Sextos
University of Bristol, United Kingdom

This talk presents the challenges faced in translating high-tech solutions into low-cost/low-tech practices for enhancing the seismic safety and resilience of school buildings in a low-income country context. The circle of resilience initiates from a holistic seismic hazard assessment that is integrated into smart diagnostics mobile phone apps for reliable pre-earthquake structural inspection and risk-based prioritization of schools that need strengthening. The uncertainty associated with the structural vulnerability that is required for risk assessment is quantified by means of refined computer simulations that are calibrated and validated against the results of an extensive experimental campaign. The latter comprises large-scale shaking table testing of “as-built” and retrofitted, one-storey/one-classroom masonry buildings at the University of Bristol, as well as full-scale quasi-static tests of substandard unreinforced masonry walls with and without strengthening at the University of Southampton. As a side project, an innovative hybrid concept is further explored experimentally, involving a low-cost, PVC-sand-PVC seismic isolated foundation, coupled with conventional strengthening of the superstructure. Finally, softer aspects of community resilience are identified, quantified, and implemented into a comprehensive resilience framework. The talk concludes with the lessons learnt as part of the three years research programme SAFER and an open discussion on how some of the low-cost/high-performance solutions devised for low-income countries can be potentially extrapolated for enhancing the resilience of critical infrastructure in our European cities.