Back to Previous

Seismic assessment and retrofit of unreinforced masonry buildings

Jason Ingham, Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Auckland, discusses how his study on unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings has made an impact on industry practice.

The New Zealand Government funded the project, which ran from 2004 to 2010. It covered a broad range of topics associated with seismic assessment and improvement of existing buildings. Following the Canterbury earthquake sequence in 2010, the project received further funding during the recovery of the earthquakes. Jason Ingham explains that he was assigned a task in writing the national guidance documents, which saw research findings from the study incorporated into industry procedures.

For over 50 years, construction of URM buildings had been prohibited in New Zealand and many other seismically-active countries. At the time, techniques for constructing these buildings were not taught in university structural engineering courses.

In conjunction with large earthquakes that occurred in New Zealand over the last decade, the research on seismic assessment and retrofit of URM buildings has subsequently led to:

  • The authoring of a national methodology for URM detailed seismic assessment
  • Multiple training courses nationwide to upskill the professional engineering community
  • Evidence being presented at the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission
  • Contributions to the development of emergency legislation for URM façade securing

The Institution of Structural Engineers aims to discover new influential projects of any scale to celebrate the successful application of research into practice. The Research into Practice Essay Competition is open for entries until 27 September 2019.

Enter the competition.

Additional information

Case Study


Blog Masonry Disaster mitigation, management & recovery Seismic & Vibration

Related Resources & Events

<h4>EEFIT Mission report: Mexico City, Mexico</h4>

EEFIT Mission report: Mexico City, Mexico

This EEFIT Field Mission report describes the 8.1 Mw earthquake which struck Mexico City on 19 September 1985. The report details the geological/ geotechnical background of the earthquake, the effects within and outside Mexico City and provides conclusions and recommendations.

Date - 1 January 1986
Price - Free
Exam preparation
<h4>Examiner report - July 2015</h4>

Examiner report - July 2015

Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates who sat the Associate-Membership and Chartered Membership exams on 10 July 2015.

Date - 1 July 2015
Price - Free
Exam preparation
<h4>Chartered Membership examiner report - January 2015</h4>

Chartered Membership examiner report - January 2015

Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates who sat the Chartered Membership exam on 09 January 2015.

Date - 1 January 2015
Price - Free