The best possible earthquake-resistant house
With spring’s arrival, 3.5 million homeless Pakistani survivors of last
year’s earthquake will start rebuilding their homes as aftershocks continue
to hit the area. Some 1,840 aftershocks have rocked the area since the largest
natural disaster in Pakistan's history hit.
So what kind of house should they build that will not kill them physically
With Pakistani entrepreneurs building under $100,000 factories with material
imported from the Middle East, the best option is a polystyrene house.
It was a search for earthquake-resistant housing after the earthquake of Bam,
Iran in December 2003, which lead the Federation of American Scientists to issue
a challenge to a nationwide group of housing experts from the Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory, MIT and others. Their research concluded in the beginning
of 2005 that simple foam panels as designed by Alabama engineer H. H. “Hoot”
Haddock would do the job. It is a simple composite of cement and expanded polystyrene,
known by the brand name of Styrofoam.
The Federation of American Scientists is a sixty-year-old organization endorsed
by 67 Nobel Laureates in chemistry, economics, medicine and physics as sponsors.
These socially conscientious scientists came together in the aftermath of the
first nuclear bombing.
They put their heads together and endorsed one project after thorough testing
of inexpensive earthquake-resistant housing.
They successfully tested a two-story building, constructed using inexpensive,
off-the-shelf materials, which has no frame and uses no wood. On a shake table
in a Cincinnati lab, the structure stayed intact through the strongest earthquake-like
shaking in three dimensions.
Federation of American Scientists Reports:
Hoot Haddock’s website:
BBC report about it:
call Hoot at (256) 766-3378 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Earthquake resistant Katcha House: houses for the poorest of the poor
For people who absolutely cannot afford and live in earthquake prone areas,
here are some ideas they can incorporate in the adobe houses that poor people
Kashmiris have historically lived in wooden-clay houses. The modern rush to
build pakka houses has disconnected them from their heritage. The low level
of death in the high Neelam valley in Azad Kashmir as well as in Indian-occupied
Kashmir is due to the fact that most of these poor people have stayed in the
traditional building model. A Mughal king (I believe it was Babar) wrote that
the reason people in Kashmir build wooden houses is to avoid loss of life due
to the frequent earthquakes in the region. Shikarpur, Pakistan had several old
two- and three-story tall buildings that were made of nothing but straw mixed
with clay and wood. I stayed one night at such a building, which was tilted
but still standing and in use.
Our research shows that there is very good adaptation of similar traditional
housing in Peru, El Salvador and Guatemala by turning it into earthquake-resistant
housing which can be easily transplanted into the disaster area at a low cost.
These models take into consideration the current shortage of wood due to deforestation.
These models have been tested in these areas and provide a level of strength
to traditional housing for poor people, who have developed video- based manuals
to guide people on how to build such homes.
Date Created: 04/11/06
Date/Time Last Modified: 4/12/2006 4:22:44 AM
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