Earthquake-Resistant Façades for Mid-Rise Buildings: A Scoping Review

Document Type : Applied Article


1 Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture & Urban Planning, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture & Urban Planning, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran and Department of Architecture, faculty of Art & Architecture, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad branch, Mashhad, Iran

3 Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture & Urban Planning, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Structural and Earthquake Engineering, Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran



Recent earthquakes in Iran have caused considerable damage to building façades. This has resulted in economic, social, and building function losses. Moreover, this occurrence poses a threat to human life [1]. Given the progress made in the field of improving the seismic performance of structural systems and the trend of new design approaches toward damage control levels rather than life safety [1], the role of architectural components such as façades in maintaining building performance and reducing damages and casualties is more crucial than ever. The structural stability of facades must be considered as a top priority in their design in in earthquake-prone areas. However, their design is complex, and it is difficult to achieve earthquake resistance because too many variables affect their performance during seismic events [2]. This study aims to identify the design parameters that affect mid-rise building façade seismic stability. This study examined all English-language studies published in this field until 2023, utilizing a scoping review method to answer the following exploratory questions.

What years had the most studies?
Which countries conduct the most research?
How many architecture schools have conducted studies?
Most studied façade types?
What research methods were used?
What design parameters improve façade seismic performance?
What factors are the most frequently cited in the literature?

Materials and methods
This study followed Arksey and O'Malley's scoping review model. From March 2022 to February 2023, three bibliographic databases—Web of Science, Scopus, and ProQuest—and two search engines—Google and Google Scholar—retrieved English-language sources published until 2023. 'Façade or Cladding or Enclosure or 'Building skin' or Envelope' and 'Seismic design' or 'Lateral load' or 'Earthquake' yielded 526 sources. Thirty-five studies were eligible for analysis.
Discussion and results
The majority of research—57.1 %—was published after 2015. Most studies were conducted in the United States (13), Australia, Italy, and New Zealand (each of them; 4 studies). Furthermore, 11.5% were completed in collaboration between universities in different countries. Studies in Iran accounted for 5.7% of the research. Participation from architecture schools was 17.2% of the total. There were 51% experimental setups, 26% numerical modeling, 20% combined methods, and 3% case studies. Most research has centered on curtain façades (57%), dry connection façades (60%) and glass and brick façades. The studies were divided into two groups based on the façade examined. Seven categories of variables were identified based on the data from each group. They are organized into three levels at the stage of façade design. The most frequent factors stated in the literature involved connections and their characteristics. The proportions of materials, connections, movement joints, and facade component dimensions, aspect ratio, and slenderness were shared in the seismic vulnerability of midrise building facades.
The findings indicate that the scientific community has paid more attention to this issue in recent years than in the past. Iran's high seismicity and the need to consider certain parameters during the preliminary design phase to achieve a seismically resistant façade for mid-rise buildings highlight the need for collaboration between architects and engineers and between Iranian and leading international universities. Due to the complexity and interdisciplinarity of the façade design, it may be advantageous to employ multi-criteria decision-making techniques.