Knowing the strengthen of traditional homes

Thinley Namgay

To disseminate earthquake resistant technology to reduce its risk to the traditional buildings the first ever Shake Table Test on traditional composite masonry buildings was conducted yesterday.

Shake table is a simulation of earthquakes to understand the properties and behaviour of various structures.

Two traditional structures were kept on the shake table to demonstrate the test. The structures were made to vibrate until they fell apart.

Culture department’s engineer Kunzang Tenzin said that the test was to understand the earthquake resistant power of our traditional composite masonry buildings.

He said that engineers would also know what measures have to be taken to build quality traditional structures to withstand the severe earthquake.

He said that Bhutan is vulnerable to earthquake and after the 2009 and 2011 earthquakes, there was skepticism on the resistant level of the traditional buildings which constitute 70 percent of the building stock in the country.

“Considering the need to understand the seismic hazards and to guide the citizens to improve the seismic resilience of the traditional buildings, the project was started,”  said Kunzang Tenzin.

“At the end of the project, proper guidelines for earthquake resistance measures will be formulated.”

The shake table test is a part of a five-year  Project for Evaluation and Mitigation of Seismic Risk for Composite Masonry Buildings in Bhutan between the government and Japanese counterparts: Nagoya City University, Kagawa University, Nihon University, Tohoku University, Kyoto University and National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience.

The joint project is currently studying the traditional composite masonry buildings (rammed earth and stone masonry) by collecting basic data of existing buildings and conducting other practical tests on the traditional buildings.

The project which started from April 2017 ends on March 2022. It was funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Science and Technology (JST).

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