2019 Seismic Design for Nonstructural Components

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Urban Design and Built Environment
Motoyui Shojiro 
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Course description and aims

This course covers non-structural elements that threaten to cause human damage and damage the continuation of society derived from extensive damage during an earthquake, and the nature of seismic design for ceilings in particular. Non-structural elements in architecture include finishing materials for outside walls, ceilings, and partitions, domestic items such as furniture, and facility equipment. Due to various vibration properties, in some cases acceleration causes damage, and in others displacement (story drift) causes damage. The instructor will present examples of damage from falling due in past earthquakes, as well as measures dependent on the factors causing damage.
Damage of non-structural elements in an earthquake is not just a problem for Japan, but also for countries where earthquakes occur. This is because research on structural frames has lead to improved seismic performance, while research on non-structural elements has been insufficient. The basic approach to seismic design is the same as with structural frames, however because non-structural elements display brittle behavior, it is necessary to take precautions against acceleration and displacement. The instructor will present computer-simulation and shaking table tests for students to get a sense of the danger of non-structural elements in an earthquake, and the importance of making them quake-resistant.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
1) Explain the reason why non-structural components suffered from damage in earthquakes
2) Calculate inertia force acts on non-structural components in earthquakes
3) Explain structural characteristics of non-structural components
4) Find methods to mitigate seismic damage of non-structural components


Non-structural components, Seismic performance, Ceiling, Cladding wall

Competencies that will be developed

Intercultural skills Communication skills Specialist skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills
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Class flow

At the beginning of each class, solutions to exercise problems that were assigned during the previous class are reviewed. Towards the end of class, students are given exercise problems related to the lecture given that day to solve. Required learning should be completed outside of the classroom for review purposes.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 What's non-structural components? Classification of non-structural components in buildings
Class 2 Damage pattern of non-structural components in recent earthquakes Classification of damage pattern of non-structural components
Class 3 Seismic load acts on non-structural components Basic concept of inertia forces which act on non-structural components in earthquakes
Class 4 Static & dynamic characteristics of ceiling Unstable behavior of ceiling subjected to static & dynamic load
Class 5 Numerical model of ceiling Numerical model to simulate damage of ceiling
Class 6 Computer simulation of damage in earthquakes Computer simulation of falling behavior in ceiling system during earthquakes
Class 7 Experimental Simulation of damage in earthquakes Experimental simulation of falling behavior in ceiling system by using 2D shaking table
Class 8 Future works Future works in seismic design for non-structural components



Reference books, course materials, etc.


Assessment criteria and methods

Students' knowledge of non-structural components and seismic design methods of them.
Exercise problems 100%

Related courses

  • ARC.S301 : Structural Design I
  • ARC.S302 : Structural Design II
  • ARC.S303 : Structural Design III
  • CVE.A432 : Practical Seismic Design I
  • CVE.A433 : Practical Seismic Design II
  • ARC.S422 : Structural Design Practice
  • UDE.S401 : Dynamics of Structures

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

Students must have completed Dynamics of Structures.

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