New Joint TMS & EERI Working Group on Confined Masonry

Good seismic performance of confined masonry (CM) buildings and significant global spread of this technology has been the main motivating factor for establishing a joint Confined Masonry working group between The Masonry Society (TMS) and the EERI in July 2018. EERI has had a long-term engagement in developing resources on CM construction through its Confined Masonry Network, which was established in 2008 (CMN, 2018). EERI has recently released a Policy Statement related to CM construction that can be used by EERI members to promote and encourage action by policy makers to reduce earth-quake risk (EERI 2018). TMS has a mission to advance masonry knowledge, its development and application and is responsible for TMS 402/602 which has been adopted by the International Build-ing Code for the design and construction of masonry.  Current activities of the TMS-EERI CM Working Group are related to a survey and analysis of global seismic design provisions for CM buildings. The other objectives of the initiative are to investigate the percentage of the global construction market built with CM and provide recommendations for future research and code provisions. Co-chairs of the group are Matt Reiter, USA (M. TMS) and Svetlana Brzev, Canada/Serbia (M. EERI and TMS), and the members are: Tim Hart, USA (M. EERI), Daniel Quiun, Peru (M. TMS), Juan José Pérez Gavilán Escalante (M. EERI), David Sommer (M. TMS), and Mark Membreño, USA (M. EERI).

EERI Board Directors Approves Confined Masonry Policy Statement

EERI has developed a set of Policy Statements that can be used by EERI members to promote and encourage action by policy makers to reduce earthquake risk.

In 2008, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) established the Confined Masonry Network to promote confined masonry construction in seismically prone areas of the world. Confined Masonry Network members have developed guidelines for the design and construction of confined masonry buildings. EERI is committed to continuing this initiative and working with partners to disseminate resources and assist in capacity-building initiatives associated with the application of confined masonry construction.

Needed Action

Multiple groups should promote the use of confined masonry in the following ways:

  1. Code bodies in various emerging economies should develop code provisions that specifically address confined masonry, based on both the experiences and codes from countries where confined masonry is constructed.
  2. More training programs and materials are needed for different stakeholders in the construction industry including architects, engineers, builders and construction labor. This also needs to be included in the curriculum in architectural and engineering colleges and universities.
  3. Aid agencies and international NGOs involved in post-disaster reconstruction work should include training sessions for local masons in the design and construction of confined masonry as integral components to their programs in seismically active areas. Further, by modeling confined masonry construction standards in their own facilities, international agencies would better insure the safety of their employees and guests during earthquakes and improve their ability to use their own facilities, whether owned or rented thereafter.
  4. EERI’s Learning from Earthquakes Program should establish a systematic data collection protocol on the performance of confined masonry after damaging earthquakes. Information was gathered after the 2010 Chile earthquake ( but opportunities have been missed to collect data from several more recent earthquakes, in particular in Mexico.

Partner organizations that can work with EERI to conduct these activities include the International Association for Earthquake Engineering, the Masonry Society, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and the International Code Council.

EERI has developed a set of Policy Statements that can be used by EERI members to promote and encourage action by policy makers to reduce earthquake risk.

More information on this policy statement can be found on the full policy white paper:
Download 3 page Confined Masonry White Paper [PDF]

Click here for more information about EERI Policy Statements


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Unlike other Latin American countries Ecuador did not have a tradition of confined masonry construction before the April 2016 earthquake. Housing and small commercial buildings in the coastal region were generally of non-engineered masonry construction, up to three or four stories high. Small RC columns are cast at corners and at wall intersections, brick or block panels (typically unreinforced) are then built between columns, a RC slab is cast, and the process is repeated for subsequent stories. Finally, a reinforced concrete bond beam is cast and a truss roof, of metal or wood, completes the structure. Alternatively, a complete reinforced concrete frame may be constructed first and the masonry infill walls are placed last.  Alternative housing construction technologies involve the use of timber, like traditional bahareque construction. Confined masonry construction practice in Ecuador started after the 2016 earthquake, as a part of the reconstruction efforts (EERI 2016).

Earthquake Performance

On April 16, 2016 an earthquake with a moment magnitude 7.8 and a maximum European Macroseismic Scale (EMS-98) intensity of IX (destructive) struck along the central coast of Ecuador. Damage was spread up and down the coast, with some towns almost being completely erased. Masonry buildings experienced damage in the earthquake, and in some cases upper stories in the buildings collapsed. In the high shaking intensity area there were about 30% collapses (EERI 2016).

Guidelines, Codes, and Standards



16 WCEE Chile 2017

A special session Global implementation of confined masonry construction technology for seismic risk reduction: challenges and opportunities was held at 16WCEE in January 2017 (Santiago, Chile). The session featured recent projects and initiatives related to implementing confined masonry in different parts of the world, including i) an overview of the activities of the Confined Masonry Network, a global initiative to advocate confined masonry as a construction technology, and ii) an overview of confined masonry applications in Latin American countries, where confined masonry has been used for decades, and also other countries where confined masonry has been used in post-earthquake rehabilitation projects. Presentations from the special session are featured below.

Confined Masonry Network: An Overview of Guidelines and Initiatives, Svetlana Brzev, T. Hart, Paper #1825
Presentation 1825

Confined Masonry Buildings: The Chilean Experience, Maximiliano Astroza, F. Andrade, M.O. Moroni, Paper #3462
Presentation 3462

Relevant Aspects of the New Mexico City’s Code for the Design and Construction of Masonry Structures, Juan Jose Perez-Gavilan, A. Pérez G., L. E. Flores, R. Jean, J. Cesin, O. Hernández, Paper #449
Presentation 449

Development of Confined Masonry Seismic Considerations, Research and Design Codes in Peru, Daniel Quiun, P. Santillan, Paper #2883
Presentation 2883

Case Study: Design and Construction of Confined Masonry Homes in Indonesia, Tim Hart, J. Pazdon, L. Blaisdell, E. Hausler Strand, Paper #694
Presentation 694

Introducing confined Masonry in a Fragile State: The Case of Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake, Ivan Bartolini, T. Schacher, Paper #4477
Presentation 4477

Seismic Retrofit of Confined Masonry Houses in Haiti: Lessons from Implementation, Clement Davy, M. L. Blaisdell, K. M. Sinclair, E. Hausler Strand, Paper #3888
Presentation 3888

Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit for Reducing the Vulnerability of Housing in Colombia: Development and Implementation, Diego Nacif Hartley, M. L. Blaisdell, J. Caballero, E. Hausler Strand, Paper #4200
Presentation 4200

Confined Masonry Building Undamaged in the Nepal Earthquake

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A two-storey confined masonry hostel with a 180 m2 footprint was exposed to the April 25, 2015 Nepal earthquake (M 7.8) and did not suffer any damage. The hostel is located at Bhandar Dhik (close to Pokhara), approximately 67 km away from the epicentre. The hostel is a part of a school with 900 blind and visually impaired students. Construction was completed in 2012. The project was the first application of confined masonry technology for the NGO Smart Shelter Foundation ( that designed and constructed the building. Pro bono seismic design advice was provided by members of the Confined Masonry Network.