Gallery: Earthquake-Proof Wood House Survives 7.5 Magnitude Quake

disaster proof design, eathquake proof house, wooden earthquake proof house, popular mechanics, Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center, richter scale,earthquake proof wood

If you’re in search of a home that can withstand even the most powerful natural disasters, the solution might reside in the nearest tree. A team of researchers from five universities are currently working on ways to make wood earthquake-proof. If they succeed, the world may soon see cheap, sustainable wooden homes that can hold up even when earthquakes shake them to their cores.

So far, researchers have seen promising results: During a July 14th test at Japan’s Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center, researchers used an E-Defense shake table, the largest shake table in the world, to simulate an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. The seven-story, million-pound wood condominium that was placed on the table remained standing, only suffering some minor cosmetic damage.

Researchers say that to get the building to withstand a whole lotta shaking, they changed the condo’s nail distribution to better distribute stiffness among the different floors, taking into account changes in structural pressure that occur during an earthquake.  Designers also used 63 anchor tie-down systems from Simpson Strong Tie, steel rods that run from the foundation to the roof and prevent the building from rocking.

While many designers have looked at expensive, complicated building materials like flexible concrete and metal alloys to create quake-proof structures, this is the only experiment to use buildings crafted from wood. It’s important to optimize this particular building material because wood is both inexpensive and sustainable, meaning it can be used in all parts of the world, even in impoverished nations.

While researchers are quick to label quake-proof wood as sustainable, the extent of the wooden buildings’ eco features are unclear (for example, if they aim to use reclaimed or FSC-certified wood, or if they incorporate other eco-friendly building materials). But based on these early rounds of testing, one thing is certainly clear: earthquake-proof wooden structures are bound to really shake up the design world.

Via Popular Mechanics


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  1. davidB June 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    A veneered wood structure at Christchurch university in NZ has survived both simulated to 8 and the 6.3 real one they had there earlier this year:

  2. moladi March 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Earthquake-Proof Wood House Survives 7.5 Magnitude Quake

    Will they float away in the tsunami? :)

  3. Vkatz May 21, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Awesome. We needed this information for a project. Thanks for posting this up! 😀

  4. DD March 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Bryant, they can use treated wood, ofcourse, so that termites will not eat it. They can also use fire resistant wood.

  5. Travelgal January 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    This would be a god send in Haiti for the rebuilding efforts

  6. amigos August 6, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Use hemp trees thay are not affected by termites, do not rot and are not affected by dampness,
    they grow quick and are long lasting.

  7. thomas July 22, 2009 at 10:19 am

    In addition to what Jen4950 pontied out I would add that realistic attempts to simulate any/all penetrations that would be made for mechanical purposes, and adding the required fireproofing would surely change this buildings reaction. But still very interesting.

  8. lyqwyd July 21, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    as far as termite damage and dry rot go, if you do regular inspections you can pretty easily keep it from reaching a dangerous point. Also, wood is fairly easy to repair when there is damage, although how repairs would affect the overall safety would need to be further investigated.

  9. GreenTech July 21, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Amazing work. There is a lot that can be done already, one of those things is using Insulating Concrete Forms for your buildings, like Reddiform.

    The technology for creating higher quality and more affordable housing is improving every day. It’s only a matter of time before it’s widely accepted.

  10. Bryant July 21, 2009 at 12:17 am

    What would happen if termites weakened a wooden earthquake-proof structure? I’m guessing this can’t be used in areas which are termite-prone.

  11. jen4950 July 20, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I don’t see any superimposed dead loads (simulated or not) such as sheetrock or finishes like brick, or any live load simulation. These masses will greatly affect the performance considering the significant drift. Great work on the basic system- but a little more info on the actual test will give more credibility to the “earthquake-proof” claim.

  12. edwebman July 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Very Impressive! This just proves with the correct technolgy we can make buildings with stand a powerful quake.
    Now If you have a wine collection in your wine room or wine cellar, than the QuakeGuardian can help protect your wine from earthquakes.
    The QuakeGuardian is a device that attaches to your wine rack that allows the bottles to move with the seismic event. When you want to take the bottle out, simply slide the bottle to the back of the rack and slide the gold or black metal ring from around the neck of the bottle.
    Also as this building, the QuakeGuardian has been shake tested up to a 7-8 range magnitude quake.
    Take a look at the QuakeGuardian!
    Just type in quakeguardian on your search engine to see the video’s or go to the web site.



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