Optimization of Timber Multi-storey Buildings against Earthquake impact

 The increasing potential of timber structures for multi-storey buildings is already set by the development of innovative structural elements already carried out by the European SME's. However, since most of the innovative SME's are from low seismicity regions, there are still many unresolved issues about the behavior of timber structures under earthquake excitation.

Existing codes of practice and design standards do not fully address the variety of timber elements and neglect special features of timber buildings, making it very difficult to design multi-storey timber buildings in earthquake-prone areas.

The main targets of this project are improvement of design and construction methods for multi-storey timber buildings in earthquake-prone areas and development of pre-standards based on updated research.


The project was introduced in the 9th Joint CORNET Call (www.cornet-era.net), started on the 1st March 2011 and will run for 2 years.

The project is funded by regional Agencies :

  • The Federal Ministries of Economics and Technology (BMWi) over the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations, AIF-Germany.

  • The Service Plublic de Wallonie, SPW-Belgium.

The kickoff meeting took place in Brussels on 30 March 2011.

Research partners

The RTD-activities are carried out by 2 research partners:

1. University of Kassel (UoK, Germany)

The main task of the University of Kassel in the project is the optimization of timber frame and cross-laminated timber (CLT) walls as well as the establishment of design guidelines.
The University of Sassari is subcontracted by UoK to work out a robust finite element model to represent the seismic behaviour of substructures (lightframe and solid walls, floor panels) including connections (wall-to-wall, wall-to-floor, wall to-foundation) and, eventually, entire three-dimensional buildings.

2. Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI, Belgium)

The main task of BBRI as Research Institute in this project is related to the pre-design of structures against earthquake impact, testing of diaphragms and dissemination.

Consortium partners

The Core Consortium of two elegible Associations is supported by additional national associations and partners are :

1. The International Association for Technical Issues related to Wood (iVTH, Germany)

IVTH is member of the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF). Research activities are funded by the Federal Ministries of Economics and Technoloy (BMWi) over AiF. The central concern of this registered non-profit association is the promotion of applied Research and Development (R&D) for the benefit of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). A unique infrastructure, comprising an industry-based innovations network covering over 100 industrial research associations, with approx. 50,000 SME, and about 700 associated research institutions. The focal fields of the work of the iVTH are:

  • Evaluation and direct/indirect support of research and development projects
  • Allocation of research missions with actual targets
  • Transfer of research results and participation in their implementation
  • Organization of scientific events
  • Award of the Wilhelm-Klauditz-Prize for Wood Research and Environment
  • Cooperation in consutling committees and in the board of trustees of the WKI

The leading timber construction associations in Germany are supporting the iVTH in this project:

  • Central Association of German Building Trades, Berlin
  • Quality Association of Timber Construction, Berlin
  • Association for prefabricated buildings, Stuttgart
  • Laminated Timber Association
  • Association of the German Wood-Based Panel Industries, GieBen

These supporting partners represent together a market share of about 50 % in the timber building sector and 75 % in the SME- timber building sector.

The participants of the SME-User-Committee are members at least in one of the participating associations.

Almost 10.000 SME's are represented by iVTH and the participating associations.

2. The Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI, Belgium)

BBRI is a private research institute mainly funded by the royalties of its more than 70,000 members (Belgian contractors) whose majority are SMEs. In Belgium, the market share for timber construction seems to reach 15 % yet and approximately 60 SMEs can be identified as specialists in timber frame buildings (75 % of their activity). They are members of BBRI as well.

According to its statutes, the BBRI follow three missions:

  • Performing scientific and technical research for the benefit of its members
  • Supplying technical information, assistance and consultancy to its members
  • Contributing in general to innovation and development in the construction sector in particular by performing contract research upon request of the industry and the authorities.

For this project, The BBRI is also supported by several regional associations:

  • FWMB, the Walloon federation of Belgian carpenters is the official organization in Wallonia representing the joiners, carpenters and connate trades in Wallonia.
  • Hout Info Bois in an association which depend on the National Federation on Sawmills.