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Seismic performance of light-gauge steel framed houses


The use of light-gauge steel houses is becoming more and more widespread in Europe, even if compared to the market share figures in the United States, Australia or Japan this branch of the industry is still in the initial development phase.

Structural solutions are being offered as standard package by companies mainly in Great Britain and the Northern countries, while in other parts of Europe the use of steel framed houses is still at the level of 'experimentation'.

This state is also conserved by the lack of design guidelines for such type of structures. This situation often leads to design mistakes ranging from improper detailing of certain parts to the gross misevaluation of the structural performance of the structure.

Fortunately, under vertical loading the design principles of the thin-walled steel profiles is well established and codified, and vertical loading usually does not create problems. However, as the producing companies move from their local markets towards a more global approach, trying to expand their business to European level, another problem arises.

Many European countries are seismically active regions, the highest risk of earthquake occurrence being present in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria and other countries from southeastern Europe, candidates to join the Community are also earthquake prone regions.

People sense earthquakes as 'remote' danger not usually present in their everyday life, until earthquakes eventually occur with devastating consequences both in terms of human life and economical loss.

The aim of the research is to provide guidelines for the design of light gauge steel structures (houses, small office buildings, schools etc.) against earthquake loading. he result of the project can be the drafting of the first European guidelines for the design of light gauge steel domestic structures in earthquake prone regions.

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