Experimental Investigations of a Selective Weakening Approach for the Seismic Retrofit of R.C. Walls
Current seismic retrofit strategies generally focus on increasing the strength/stiffness or upgrading the mechanical properties of a structure or element. A typical drawback of this approach is that the demand on structural and sub-structural elements can be increased. In a previous contribution by the authors (Ireland et al., 2006) a counter-intuitive but rational seismic retrofit strategy consisting of selective weakening techniques was proposed. In this paper results of experimental investigations performed on benchmark & selectively weakened structural walls at the University of Canterbury are discussed. The experimental investigations consisted of quasi-static uni-directional tests on two benchmark and two retrofitted cantilever wall specimens. The first benchmark wall specimen was detailed as typical of pre-1970’s construction practice. An equivalent wall was retrofitted using a selective weakening approach involving a horizontal cut at foundation level to allow for a controlled rocking response. The second benchmark specimen represented a more severe scenario where the inelastic behaviour was dominated by shear. A retrofit solution involving vertically segmenting the wall to improve the ductility and retain gravity carrying capacity by inducing a flexural response was implemented. The experimental results confirmed the viability and efficiency of the proposed retrofit technique towards improving the performance of structural walls. Constructability issues and suggestions for practical implementation of the proposed retrofit solution are also discussed.