Higher mode effects in multi-storey timber buildings with varying diaphragm flexibility

With the increasing acceptance and popularity of multi-storey timber buildings up to 10 storeys and beyond, the influence of higher mode effects and diaphragm stiffness cannot be overlooked in design. Due to the lower stiffness of timber lateral load resisting systems compared with traditional construction materials, the effect of higher modes on the global dynamic behaviour can be more critical. The presence of flexible timber diaphragms creates additional vibration modes, which have the potential to interact with each other, increasing the seismic demand on the whole structure.

This paper uses a parametric non-linear time-history analysis on a series of timber frame and wall structures with varying diaphragm flexibility to study their dynamic behaviour and to determine diaphragm forces. The analyses results showed that although higher mode effects play a significant role in the structural dynamic response, this increased demand can be successfully predicted with methods available in literature.

The parametric analyses showed that the diaphragm flexibility did not significantly increase the shear and moment demand; however, stiff wall structures with flexible diaphragms experienced large inter-storey drifts measured at diaphragm midspan compared with the drift of the wall alone. As expected, the diaphragm forces observed from the time-history analyses were significantly higher than the forces derived from an equivalent static analysis, leading to a potentially unsafe design. The paper presents a simplified approach for evaluating these amplified peak inertial diaphragm forces.

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