GFRC and Seismic Design – Key Benefits of Using Architectural Concrete in Earthquake-Prone Regions

In areas of the world that receive earthquakes, architectural design and construction is not just a matter of aesthetics. Professionals must also plan and build structures that are resistant to the highly destructive forces of earthquakes. Seismic design is important not just because it helps preserve buildings, but also because it plays a role in protecting the people, animals, and valuables that may be inside them as well as pedestrians below.

There are three main reasons why architectural concrete is particularly well suited for seismic design applications. First, Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete is lighter than many other commonly used construction materials, including brick, stone, cast stone, terra cotta, and traditional precast concrete. Lighter weight means a reduced seismic load on the structure and simplified connection details.

Second, GFRC is reinforced throughout. Because the glass fiber is integral to the product, there are no unnreinforced areas in a GFRC panel or GFRC element. Since the reinforcing is continuous, there are no fragile, unreinforced sections in GFRC.

Lastly, fiber reinforced concrete is capable of flexing without breaking, making it ideally suited for use in seismic zones. Unlike rigid masonry or precast concrete, Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete can withstand a considerable amount of bending forces and shaking and still remain intact.

There are a few important considerations with respect to using fiber reinforced concrete in seismic areas. First, the anchoring system which attaches the GFRC panel or element to the structure must be suitable. Second, the jointing must be designed to allow for the maximum wracking of the structure without placing excessive stress on GFRC elements.

On a final note, anyone who is uncertain about the potential of earthquake activity in a given area can consult any one of the major building codes. They contain maps of seismic zones, and also rate various regions according to the potential severity of earthquakes. Any designs for Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete panels or elements should comply with all local building codes to minimize the risk of earthquake damage.

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