The main aim of the project is to address common technological problems faced by SMEs, with the support of their Associations, relating to the implementation of masonry enclosures in seismic areas and pre-normative research issues, through the development of new products, technologies, performance requirements and design procedures. As so, the project allows defining practical and regulatory measures, that are useful for the entire sector and respond to the needs of a large community of European SMEs, including producers of masonry units, mortar and steel connectors/fasteners, contractors, designers and professionals.

Specific problems related to various constructive solutions need to be considered; in particular (i) enclosures included in the frame, rigidly attached (rigid infill), (ii) enclosures included in the frame, allowing relative displacements between the wall and the frame (separated infill), and (iii) external enclosure systems, attached to the frame or to backup infill walls, having the possibility of controlled relative movement (veneer).

Through the combination of research and industrial needs, product and technology development will be achieved by extensive experimental and numerical activities, aimed at developing theoretical knowledge and practical expertise, including technical-economic implications, and resulting in the definition of design and detailing rules, the publication of practical design manuals and the development of a software package for the design of masonry infilled rc structures. Moreover, the consortium includes institutions involved in the drafting/reviewing of either national and European norms, thus the research findings are also intended to set up the basis and provide input for the development and implementation of building codes.

Considering different structural systems, levels of seismic input and displacement/ductility demand, solutions to connect the structure and the enclosure system, properties of the material components constituting the enclosure wall, a broad range of possible enclosure systems will be addressed. In addition, non-structural issues will be considered with the aim of developing smart solutions in terms of sustainability, energy saving and healthy indoor environment.

Enclosure "specialisation" for adequate earthquake resistance is the core of the project and will consist in defining integrated and innovative systems, such as to:

  • optimise (maximise) the local structural performance, by limiting damage under the most frequent (and less intense) earthquakes and minimizing the probability of detachment and out-of-plane collapse under the effects of the most intense, i.e. the “design”, earthquakes (for verification at the ultimate limit state);
  • minimize the negative effects that inadequate design and construction of enclosures walls cause on the global structural behaviour of the rc framed structure under the effect of the design earthquake, i.e. at the ultimate limit state;
  • enhance and exploit the non-structural performance of the infill/veneer walls: all the properties related to environmental, energy saving and comfort aspects, but also those related to the capacity of limiting damage under serviceability limit states.

To this respect, the main scientific and technological objectives are:

a) organisation of a comprehensive catalogue of different structural frame typologies and related types of enclosures systems. Definition of: enclosure systems damage, sources of deficient performance and failure mechanisms; enclosure walls requirements and design parameters, for guiding the knowledge-based development of new products and technologies as well as the optimization of design procedures (WP3, delivered at PM6);

b) development of advanced materials (masonry units, mortar, reinforcement, connectors/fasteners etc.), innovative technologies and building process for infill and veneer walls, diversified according to seismic risk level, regional construction traditions and environmental conditions (WP3; delivered and updated between PM12 and PM18);

c) experimental characterisation at material and masonry assembly level, for deriving the main constitutive laws relevant for numerical simulation. Activities will include development of test set-ups and testing strategies for frame/enclosure walls sub-assemblies and experimental testing for evaluating the system performance and the influence of the wall in-plane damage on the out-of-plane response (WP5, material characterization delivered at PM12 and sub-assembly characterization delivered at PM18);

d) numerical simulation of the behaviour of bare frames and frames with infill/veneer walls for evaluating their mutual influence in the seismic response and for clarifying the seismic load acting on the non-structural elements (WP4; definition of proper modelling strategies at PM15 and results at PM27);

e) numerical parametrical assessment of enclosure walls to define critical mechanical parameters, seek for structural limitations of the intended technologies and thus to develop rules for optimized design (WP4, definition of calibrated models at PM21 and definition of design formulations and charts results at PM30);

f) experimental quantitative characterization of the overall seismic response of model buildings and of the frame-to-enclosure wall dynamic interaction by shaking table tests, to validate and obtain information on the system performance of the developed solutions (WP5, delivered at PM24);

g) manufacturing of prototype products (masonry units, mortar, reinforcement, connectors/fasteners etc.), design and construction of prototype enclosure walls for assessment and demonstration of constructability and cost-efficiency. Calibration of non-destructive on-site testing procedure for final validation of the proposed technologies and for setting-up quality assessment procedures (WP6, delivered at PM33);

h) implementation of the project results into software package and design guidelines for an effective and large-scale applicability of the proposed technologies and design methods, and subsequent transfer into codes of practice and standards (WP7, delivered at PM36). The guidelines will cover construction and site related aspects, as well as design rationales and procedures (WP7, delivered at PM36);

i) dissemination and exploitation of the project results, training and standardisation (WP2).