Unreinforced masonry buildings, constructed with stones or bricks, are common in the northern areas of Pakistan. In the October 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the seismic performance of stone masonry buildings was found to be poor, which was the primary source of fatalities. Unreinforced brick masonry (URBM) buildings, however, performed well even in severely jolted areas. The performance of URBM could have been much better if the affected buildings were constructed by using proper guidelines. Taking lessons from the disaster, an experimental investigation, based on typical geometry and precompression levels of the URBM shear walls in the affected region, was conducted to evaluate their seismic performance. Twelve walls were tested in the in-plane direction using quasi-static cyclic loading. First-story drift ratios for various performance levels in URBM buildings are proposed. The influences of relative precompression level and aspect ratio on the damage pattern, ultimate drift ratio, and equivalent viscous damping of the walls are examined.

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