1 PhD student, University College Dublin (UCD), Urban Modelling Group (UMG), School of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering (SCSEE),

2 Associate Professor, UCD, UMG, SCSEE,


In most numerical modelling of buildings, there is an assumption that the structure is undamaged. However, with historic buildings, defects often exist. Failing to incorporate such damage may cause an unconservative estimation of a building’s response. Nowhere is this more critical than in the case of urban tunnelling where hundreds of unreinforced masonry structures may be impacted by ground movements. This paper examines the effectiveness and limitations of four numerical approaches in the modelling of existing discontinuities, in the form of masonry cracking when compared to traditional finite element methods. The comparative methods include a micro-poly method, a distinct element method, a discontinuity deformation method, and a combined continuum-interface method. Particular attention is paid to the ease of model implementation, the availability of input data, applicability of crack modelling, and the ability to define the initial state of the structure as part of the model. The methods are compared to each other and finite element modelling. Relative qualitative assessments are provided as to their applicability for modelling damaged masonry.


Keywords: Pre-existing damage, micro-poly methods, distinct element methods, discontinuity deformation method, and mesoscopic modelling