Conservationtech Consulting, Oakland, California, USA,


It seems counter-intuitive to assert that unsophisticated, non-engineered timber and masonry structures might be safer in large earthquakes than structures of reinforced concrete, but such has been the case in a number of recent earthquakes. The question of what lessons can be derived from this insight is even less obvious. However, in many different regions of the world, the earthquake record with structures of reinforced concrete frequently has been abysmal. This paper explores the specifics of what can be learned from historical construction practices, and describes the author’s concept for “Armature Crosswalls”. When historic structures are understood not only as obsolete building systems but as repositories of generations of thought and knowledge of how to thrive using local resources, societies can rediscover the value of these traditions once again by seeing them in a new light – one that, at its most fundamental level, can save lives.

Key words
Earthquake, Traditional construction, Reinforced Concrete, Crosswall