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SEISMIC-V: Vernacular Seismic Culture in Portugal


The most memorable and deadly earthquakes in Portugal's recent history occurred in 1755, 1909, 1969 and 1980. Although Portugal has been identified as a moderate-risk country relative to its vulnerability to earthquakes, the fact remains that it is susceptible to earthquake occurrence and damage in the future.

Given this fact, the broad question of the research interest became: What did the local populations do to repair and restore the buildings where they were living? The question concerns with the identification of which architectural elements and techniques did the local population use to repair and retrofit their houses. The research will address the query related with the identification of seismic resistant architecture elements that can be identified in the in-use vernacular heritage. It will also respond to the question if ‘‘Local Seismic Culture’’ (LSC) can be consistently identified in Portugal. The project findings will become a helpful instrument to identify seismic resistant features used in the past to respond to earthquakes; and traditional techniques and architectural elements applied related to safety standard. It is expected that part of the Local Seismic Culture, either be of preventive or reactive origin, be influenced by the intensity and / or by the frequency of earthquakes. The project will be structured under 5 progressive phases related with principal tasks:
1. Definition of the areas of study, according to the intensity and frequency of earthquakes, supported by the survey missions and preliminary analysis. The task will result in an Atlas of Local Seismic Culture in Portugal;
2. Experimental characterization (in situ), to study the materials and their application through benchmarking in paradigmatic cases;
3. Numerical modeling and parametric studies, which will be developed through testing, whose conclusions will be presented in Laboratory Seminars.
4. Identification and description of the most efficient seismic resistant reinforcement solutions, as well as the most frequente errors. A manual of practical construction "warning of erroneous solutions," will be produced directed to communities and local agents.
5. Finally, the Project will systematize the information collected and produced, featuring the analyzed solutions. According to their feasibility study, it will be prepared a publication, meticulously verified by the scientific advisers, to become a reference on the research area. The Project SEISMIC-V may become a useful tool to understand and apply traditional techniques, without prejudice for its identity, according to the current security parameters. Escola Superior Gallaecia (ESG), as the project leader of this project, has a recognized international expertise in vernacular architecture. The institution coordinated CATPAP research project (FEDER funding), actually is the project leader of the European Research Project VerSus (funded by the European Cultura Program 2007-2013) and will held next year, CIAV 2013. The annual conference of ICOMOS-CIAV, the International Scientific Committee of Vernacular architecture will have a conference Theme specially dedicated to Natural Hazards and Risk Mitigation to also respond to the SEISMIC-V research problem. The partnership with the University of Aveiro and the University of Minho, through their Departments of Engineering, will contribute to the advance of knowledge in this field of study. The research project will be supported by the Ministry of Culture, primarily through the institutional impact that can grant the dissemination of results. SEISMIC-V has the support of CIAV, ISCEAH and the European University Centre for Cultural Heritage (Ravello, Italy). SEISMIC-V intends to fill the gap regarding this critical research problem. The research will contribute to the awareness and protection of the local seismic culture. The project results will provide data for the strengthening of seismic-resistant architectural components in the in-use vernacular heritage, which in case of earthquake can save lives.

Reference: PTDC/ATP-AQI/3934/2012

Date: 2013-2015

Financing institution
FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia

Promoting institution
FCO - Fundação Convento da Orada

Partner institution
UA - Universidade de Aveiro