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UMinho coordinates seismic retrofitting project
The SRP – Seismic Retrofitting Project involves the
Institute for Sustainability and Innovation in Structural Engineering (ISISE) of the School of Engineering of the University of Minho (EEUM), the Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Perú and the Getty Conservation Institute, USA.
The Seismic Retrofitting Project uses traditional building materials and techniques – associated to advanced methodologies – to develop tools for the maintenance and seismic strengthening of existing earthen buildings (where about 25% of the world population lives, or 2 billion people). The materials used in traditional construction and in certain contexts seems to be insufficiently resistant to seismic actions. This construction is responsible for a significant number of deaths in the world, whenever a large earthquake occurs in buildings that were not designed to withstand the seismic impact.
“This project is not specifically for Peru, but intended to be used in all countries – mostly developing countries–, so the techniques and materials do not have high costs and are readily available locally. Our aim is essentially Latin America, but also the entire world”, Paulo Lourenço, professor of the Department of Civil Engineering of the EEUM and project coordinator at the UMinho, explains.
The ultimate aim of the Seismic Retrofitting Project is to work on a preventive approach, which means working on strengthening and repairing buildings before an earthquake occurs. “We studied the buildings with advanced methods and analysis tools. We are able to predict the current level of safety of the construction and the level of safety afterwards”, Paulo Lourenço highlights.
Thinking about conservation of cultural heritage, the researcher has no doubt that the project will be a benefit to avoid the loss of cultural identity of constructions. “What has been observed in the large earthquakes for this type of constructions, which are relatively heavy, fragile, poorly connected and that suffer serious problems of lack of maintenance, is that about two thirds of the built cultural heritage collapses. Therefore, there is an important loss of identity. It is something that is irrecoverable. We can always rebuild, but the original value of materials and technologies is lost”, he adds.
The Seismic Retrofitting Project involves three beneficiary partners and has a budget of 220 thousand euros for UMinho, from the Getty Conservation Institute and until the end of 2017.