CALIFORNIA: The Stanford’s engineers have developed a new method of building earthquake-resistant homes that could be applied relatively easily and reasonably. Earthquake can prove disastrous to life and property even relatively minor tremble may compromise the structural integrity of a home, resulting in large repair costs.
A small two-story home model that features what they refer to as a “unibody” design by Stanford’s engineers. Rather than turn drywall to the home’s wooden frame, it was attached with glue, while strong mesh and additional screws were used to attach and keep the white stucco facade safely in place.
The home was not placed on a standard foundation, but on “seismic isolators.” The seismic isolators comprise 12 steel-and-plastic sliders, each measuring around 11.4 cm (4.5 in) in diameter, and plates and bowl-shaped dishes made of galvanized steel were placed beneath.
The model home was tested on an earthquake simulator that essentially acts as a large shaking table. Though unable to give a Richter scale reading, the engineers report that they shook the table at three times the intensity of a 6.9 magnitude quake. Thanks to the seismic isolators, the house slid harmlessly from left to right, but took no damage. Indeed, it wasn’t until the researchers turned up the earthquake simulator up to maximum that the building displayed significant damage.
The standard of seismic isolators isn’t new, and they are already used to protect some larger structures, like San Francisco International Airport for example. However, the significance of the Stanford research lies in its inexpensiveness and ease of installation. The researchers report that their system would only add around US$15,000 to the total cost of a typical 185 sq m (2,000 sq ft) full-sized house.