Improving the lateral load resistance of vernacular masonry walls subject to flooding

Shawn Platt, Indunil Erandi, Chintha Jayasinghe, Thishan Jayasinghe, Dan Maskell, Gihan Ranasinghe, Pete Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)
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Low rise vernacular masonry buildings are vulnerable to damage from extreme flooding. This paper presents findings from a study based in Sri Lanka assessing the structural resilience of non-engineered single storey houses constructed with either fired clay brickwork and cement block masonry walls. A structural survey of flood damaged houses enabled characterisation of masonry materials, and development of proposals to improve the lateral load capacity of masonry walls. The structural survey revealed that a combination of low-quality masonry units and variable thickness of mortar beds may have contributed to flexural failure due to the hydrostatic pressures during flood events. An experimental programme investigated the impact of differing masonry units and mortar thickness on masonry properties under dry and saturated conditions. A simple retrofit method has been developed, using reinforced renders, enhancing sectional flexural capacity by over 11 times, offering greater resilience to lateral flood loads. The impact of the research will have direct welfare benefits for Sri Lankan’s living in flood risk areas, reducing the risk of structural collapse and enabling people to safely remain in their homes during flood events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-105
JournalProceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers: Construction Materials
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023


  • buildings, structures & design
  • developing countries
  • floods & floodworks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials


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