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The basic structural behavior of high rise structure is similar to that of cantilever coming out
from ground. The lateral forces generated from wind and Earthquakes are critical in high rise
structures. Therefore to resists these lateral forces, lateral load resisting structural systems are
required. Shear wall is one of the most effective lateral load resisting system.
There are many ways to resist Earthquake forces; shear wall is one of them. Shear wall
provides considerable amount of increase in stiffness of structure. Shear wall is having great
ability to resist the Earthquake forces and by this it prevents complete collapse of building. It
adds additional safety to the structure. It is not only provided to resist Earthquake forces but
also to serve for other functional requirements.
Shear walls have been the most common structural systems used in building structures to
resist horizontal forces caused by wind or earthquakes. They provide lateral load resistance
by transferring the wind or earthquake loads to the foundation, and they impart lateral
stiffness to the system and also carry gravity loads. During an earthquake shear wall absorbs
and dissipates a lot of energy by cracking. The shear walls tend to be laterally much stiffer
than the moment resisting frames. The extent to which a wall will contribute to the resistance
of earthquake forces depend on its geometric configuration, orientation and location within
the plan of a building. The seismic forces on multi storeyed building depend on peak ground
acceleration and time period of building. Peak ground acceleration depends on soil conditions
on which building is resting and time period of building depends on its structural planning.
Therefore to select an efficient structural system for better performance during earthquake
site conditions and structural planning should be considered.

Shear Walls are specially designed structural walls incorporated in the buildings to resistlateral forces
that are produced in the plane of the wall due to wind, earthquake and other forces. They are mainly
flexural members and usually provided in tall buildings to avoid the total collapse of the tall buildings
under seismic forces. Walls can be designed as plain concrete walls when there is only compression
with no tension in the section. Otherwise, they should be designed as reinforced concrete walls. The
usefulness of the Shear Walls in the framing of buildings has long been recognized. When situated in
advantageous positions of buildings, they form an efficient lateral force resisting system, while
simultaneously fulfilling other functional requirements. For buildings up to 20 stories the use of shear
walls is a matter of choice. Walls proportioned to resist combinations of shears, moments, and axial
forces are referred to as structural walls. In tall buildings the reinforced concrete shear walls are often
used as a most efficient structural system for carrying lateral loads arising from wind and earthquake
effects as well as Axial loads from upper floors. They are usually provided in multi- storied buildings
and have been found of immense use to avoid total collapse of buildings under lateral forces. The
overwhelming success of buildings with shear walls in resisting strong earthquakes is summarized in
the quote: We cannot afford to build concrete buildings meant to resist severe earthquakes without
may become may become imperative from the point of view of economy and control of lateral
deflection. Because a large fraction of lateral force on the building and the horizontal shear force
resulting from it is often assigned to such structural walls hence the name has been called as
Shear Walls. These walls generally start at foundation level and are continuous throughout the
building height. Their thickness can be as low as 50mm or as high as 400mm in high rise buildings.
Shear walls are usually provided along both length and width of buildings (Figure 1.1).
Figure1.1 Reinforced concrete shear walls in buildings an excellent structural system for earthquake resistance.
Shear walls are like vertically oriented wide beams that carry earthquake loads downwards to the
foundation. Hence, it is always advisable to incorporate them in buildings built in regions likely to
experience earthquake of large intensity
or high winds. Shear walls for winds are
designed as simple concrete walls as
elastic response is expected whereas the
design of these walls for seismic forces
requires special considerations as they
should be safe under repeated loads and
deformation. They are usually provided
between columns, in stairwells, lift wells,
toilets, utility shafts, etc. Initially shear
walls were used in reinforced concrete
buildings to resist wind forces. These
came into general practice only as late as
1940. However since recent observations
have consistently shown the excellent
performance of buildings with shear walls
even under seismic forces. Such walls are now extensively used for all earthquake resistant designs.
Surveys of buildings after earthquakes have consistently shown that the loss of life due to complete
collapse was minimal in buildings with some sort of reinforced concrete shear wall. Earlier, tall
buildings were made only of steel as bracings, to take lateral wind loads. With the introduction of
shear walls, concrete construction can be used for tall buildings also. Tall buildings with flat
slabs should invariably have shear walls. Such systems as compared to slabs with beams have very
little resistance even to moderate loads.


Any vertical element can either be column or shear wall. The nomenclatures depend upon the
structural behavior of the member in that particular case. A vertical "framing" member can be
classified as column when, lateral load in that frame is resisted mostly by flexural deformations. If the
lateral load is being resisted mainly by shear deformations, same element will be called as shear wall.
When lateral forces are applied on a frame, columns stiffness comes into action to take care of this
lateral force. When cumulative stiffness of all columns is still unable to take care of this lateral force,
introduce Shear wall. Now due to introduction of shear walls frame most of the lateral force is
attracted by shear walls.
The most important property of shear walls for seismic design as different from design for wind is that
it should have good ductility under reversible and repeated overloads. When a concrete frame is
designed to resist lateral forces and then a stiff but brittle masonry filler wall is placed within this
frame, there is a very great possibility that because of its greater stiffness, it will attract most of the
earthquake forces and fail in shear when the brittle masonry fails. Unreinforced brick masonry fillerwalls have been the first to fail in many buildings subjected to major earthquakes. Hence,
unreinforced brick walls should not be used as shear walls for resisting earthquake forces. The basic
criteria that the designer will aim to satisfy are stiffness, strength and ductility. Shear walls provide a
nearly optimum means of achieving these objectives. Buildings braced by these Structural Walls are
invariably stiffer than framed structures, reducing the possibility of excessive deformations under
small earthquakes. It will thus often be unnecessary to separate the non-structural components from
the lateral force-resisting structural system. The necessary strength to avoid structural damage under
moderate earthquakes can be achieved by properly detailed longitudinal and transverse reinforcement,
and provided that special detailing measures are adopted, dependable ductile response can be
achieved under major earthquakes. The calculation of lateral stiffness and stresses in a single shear
wall without openings involves simple bending theory only. Walls with openings present a much more
complex problem to the analyst. Openings normally occur in vertical rows throughout the height of
the wall and the connection between the wall sections is provided by either connecting beams which
form part of the wall, or floor slabs, or a combination of both. The terms coupled shear walls, pierced
shear wall and shear wall with openings are commonly used to describe such units.
Properly designed and detailed buildings with shear walls have shown very good performance
in past earthquakes. The overwhelming success of buildings with shear walls in resisting strong
earthquakes is summarized in the quote:
We cannot afford to build concrete buildings meant to resist severe earthquakes without
Shear walls.
Shear walls in high seismic regions require special detailing. However, in past earthquakes,
even buildings with sufficient amount of walls that were not specially detailed for seismic performanc
e (but had enough well-distributed reinforcement) were saved from collapse. Shear wall buildings are
a popular choice in many earthquake prone countries, like Chile, New Zealand, U.S.A. and India also.
Shear walls are easy to construct, because reinforcement detailing of walls is relatively straightforward and therefore easily implemented at site. Shear walls are efficient, both in terms of
construction cost and effectiveness in minimizing earthquake damage in structural and non-structural
elements (like glass windows and building contents).


Shear walls are essentially columns with a large depth and a small width. The walls are quite stiff in
their own plane and flexible in the plane perpendicular. Reinforced concrete shear walls have long
been recognized as efficient structural elements for resisting lateral forces due to winds and
earthquakes in buildings. In general, the shear walls tend to be laterally much stiffer than the moment
resisting frames. Ductile response of these elements under strong seismic ground motions can be

achieved through the development of a flexural plastic hinge at the base and by resisting the
anticipated horizontal shear force over the height of the wall.
The basic criteria that the designer will aim to satisfy are stiffness, strength and ductility. Structural
walls provide a nearly optimum means of achieving these objectives.
- Buildings braced by structural walls are invariably stiffer than framed structures, reducing the
possibility of excessive deformations under small earthquake.
- The necessary strength to avoid structural damage under moderate earthquakes can be achieved by
properly detailed longitudinal and transverse reinforcement and provided that special detailing
measures are adopted, dependable ductile response can be achieved under major earthquake.

Shear wall can be classified based on different parameters. Classifications of shear wall is shown

Shear wall








Squat wall


With opening


Slender wall




with other
structural system



Slender Wall
Slender wall behave like a vertical slender cantilever beam. Slender walls are governed In flexural
strength rather than in-plan strut -and- tie forces. They are generally subjected to low nominal shear
stress are generally produce horizontal cracking in lower region after a few cycles of inelastic
deformation. After yielding of main reinforcement, shear is taken by interface friction and dowel
action of vertical reinforcement. Flexural strength is limited to fracture of main reinforcement that
which is provided near edge of wall and concrete crushing in compression zone. Crushing of concrete
occurred when crushing strain is exceeded in compression zone of concrete.

Intermediate Wall
Reinforced concrete wall with aspect ratio (length to width) in between 1 and 2, is called intermediate
wall. Intermediate wall will fail in shear and flexure both, so it is called mixed failure.

Squat Wall
Reinforced concrete wall with ratio of length to width less than or Equal to 1, is called Squat or short
shear wall. It is widely used in Conventional building or nuclear structures. Squat or low-rise shear
wall is the one in which deflection and strength is controlled by shear and can be design and analysed
using strut and tie model.

IS 13920:1993 will not distinguish the walls as squat or slender according to the aspect ratio. The
revised IS 13920 draft code is classified shear wall according to aspect ratio i.e. ratio of height of the
wall (hw) to horizontal length (lw).
Shear walls are oblong in cross section, i.e., one dimension of the cross section is much larger than the
other. While rectangular cross-section is common, L- and U-shaped sections are also used. Thinwalled hollow RC shafts around the elevator core of buildings also act as shear walls, and should be
taken advantage of to resist earthquake forces.
Depending on height to width ratio shear wall may classified as slender or squat shear wall. If height
to width ratio is more than 3 then it behave as a slender wall and if height to width ratio less than 1
then it behaves as a squat wall. Concrete shear walls are widely used in high rise buildings. But where
force levels exceed those permitted in all other materials or where dimensional constraints limit the
width of shear walls, steel plate shear walls are used. Composite shear walls consist of steel plate with
reinforced concrete walls attached to one side or both sides using mechanical connectors such as shear
studs or bolts. Sometimes wooden shear walls are used in low rise building because timber structures
have a good track record of performance in major earthquakes and their low mass and good damping
characteristics helps to achieve good performance during major earthquakes. Different types of shear
walls are shown in Fig.1.3.
Individual walls may be subjected to axial, translational and torsional displacements. The extent to
which a wall will contribute to the resistance of overturning moments, storey shear forces and storey
torsion depends on its geometric configuration, orientation and location within the plan of building.
The position of the structural walls within a building are usually dictated by functional requirements,
The purpose of the building , the consequent location of floor space , building site , architectural
interest , clients desires. The structural aspects to be considered for the planning of walls are type of
shear wall used, ductility aspect, and opening in floors. The major structural considerations for
location of individual structural walls will be symmetry in stiffness, torsional stability and available
overturning capacity of foundation.

Factors influencing structural response of walls

The various parameters that influence the response of shear wall are as follow.
Height-to-width ratio
Height to width ration exceeding 2, behave like a bending beam. While height to

width ratio less than 1, may behave as a shear beam.

Types of loading

Shear walls shows less flexural strength and deformation under reversed Cyclic
loading compare to monotonic loading. Flexure capacity is reduced due to inelastic
buckling and effect on tensile capacity of the reinforcement. Squat shear wall do not
shows any deference in monotonic and cyclic loading. This is due to formation of
diagonal compressive strut system that does not deteriorate appreciably in shear
stiffness in reversed loading.
Flexural reinforcement.

The vertical reinforcement present in the wall determines flexural capacity, hence,
maximum shear force to which it can be subjected. The maximum shear force that can
be developed, depending on actual flexural capacity, which may be significantly
higher than the design flexural capacity due to strain hardening of vertical
reinforcement. For the same amount of vertical reinforcement, wall having

reinforcement concentration in boundary elements, develop higher flexural capacity

and ultimate curvature than wall having uniformly distributed reinforcement.

Shear reinforcement.
Horizontal shear reinforcement provided to prevent diagonal tension failure. It improves the
inelastic response of walls subjected to high nominal shear stress by reducing shear
deformation. It is ineffective in resisting sliding shear.
Diagonal reinforcement.
Diagonal reinforcement in the web of walls reduces shear distortion and resists sliding shear.
It is particularly useful in squat walls. It also contribute to flexural strength and result in

energy dissipation. As shown in fig.1.3.

Special transverse reinforcement.

This required in potential hinging region of the wall where large inelastic rotations are occur.
Concrete strength.
Section shape.
Axial compressive stress.
Construction joints.


Individual walls may be subjected to axial, translational and torsional displacements. The extent to
which a wall will contribute to the resistance of overturning moment, storey shear forces and storey
torsion depends on its geometric configuration, orientation and location within the plane of the
Symmetry in stiffness and torsional stability are most important aspects for strategies in location of
shear wall. So, in choosing suitable locations for earthquake resisting shear walls, following aspects
should be considered.
(a) During shaking of a building, an earthquake ground motion will search for every structural
weakness. These weaknesses are usually created by sharp changes in stiffness, strength and/or
ductility, and the effects of these weaknesses are accentuated by poor distribution of reactive
masses. Severe structural damage suffered by several modern buildings during recent
earthquakes illustrates the importance of avoiding sudden changes in lateral stiffness and
(b) Lateral-force-resisting systems within one building, with significantly different stiffnesses
such as structural walls and frames, should be arranged in such a way that at every level the
symmetry in lateral stiffness is not grossly violated. Thereby undesirable torsional effects will
be minimized.


When walls are situated in advantageous position in a building, they can form an efficient lateral load
resisting system, while simultaneous fulfilling other functional requirement. In shear wall frame
building, shear wall has been considered in different position to find out the effect of shear wall on
parameters such as time period, base shear, top storey displacement and design forces in shear wall.
Following four geometric positions of shear walls, which are central, middle sided, outer sided and
corner sided, have been considered for 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 storey symmetrical buildings.


Mixed Failure Modes
A mixed failure mode is shear failure at a displacement that is greater than the displacement
corresponding to the peak flexural strength. Wall failure is governed initially by flexure (i.e.
flexural cracking and yielding of vertical boundary element reinforcement), which is similar
to the initiation of flexural failure. For wall that exhibits a mixed failure mode, wall shear
strength is initially equal to or greater than the shear force corresponding to wall flexural
strength. However, the shear resistance of the wall degrades with displacement, the shear
strength of the wall degrades below the shear force associated with flexural strength and
shear wall response thereafter. The failure of squat reinforced concrete wall with intermediate
aspect ratio is generally govern by mixed modes. Flexural-diagonal tension failure is
associated with the formation of wide inclined cracks after the wall achieve its flexural
strength. The mechanism for this failure mode is similar to that of diagonal tension. If wall
has sufficient horizontal reinforcement to prevent development of wide inclined cracks, a
flexure -diagonal compression failure is likely to occur. Flexural-diagonal compression
failure is associated with failure of compression struts after the wall achieve its flexural
strength. The mechanism associated with this failure mode is similar to that of diagonal
compression. Flexural-sliding shear failure is associated with significant sliding after the wall
achieve its flexural strength. Limiting the shear stress in the wall web and providing adequate
horizontal web reinforcement can avoid failure associated with diagonal compression and
tension, respectively. However, upper portion of wall can slide relative to foundation along a
horizontal crack at the base of wall. Due to cyclic loading flexural cracks form at each end of
the wall near its base. These flexural cracks will propagate to centre of wall and form a
continuous crack at the base of wall with cycles of increasing displacement amplitude.
Further cycling diminishes the resistance mechanisms (aggregate interlock, shear friction)
along this crack and a sliding plane forms. Thereafter, shear forces will transferred primarily
from the wall to the foundation by dowel action of the vertical reinforcement, which can
provide only modest lateral strength and stiffness. Sliding results in a significant reduction in
stiffness and strength and large residual displacement. Walls with light vertical reinforcement,
no boundary element reinforcement, and low axial forces are susceptible to this type of

Sliding shear
Heavily reinforced walls subjected to large number of displacement cycle may be susceptible
to sliding shear failure. This failure is similar to a compression failure in the sense that it is
also a result of concrete crushing. Squat walls that fail in sliding shear initially experience
inclined shear cracking. Inclined shear cracks that form in each direction intersect each other
due to cyclic loading and strength of concrete between this cracks deteriorates as a result of
subsequent displacement cycle at higher amplitude. Note that concrete density is higher for
heavily reinforced wall and the concrete struts are narrower. Concrete crushing then spread

over the wall length in a narrow band, forming a weakened horizontal plane near the base of
the wall web. The upper part of the wall then start to slide on this weakened plane and such
failure is associated with sliding shear.
Behaviour Under Seismic Loading
When seismic force tend to push the shear wall, it cause an overturning moment. The over turning
element cause tension and compression force in shear wall as shown in fig. 1.2.

Shear wall usually have a rectangle cross-section. When a wall provided between two columns, a
barbell shape results. The columns at both ends are called boundary element. They increase the
strength in shear and flexure significantly.
During earthquake, a shear wall that may have very high strength may response in fully elastic
manner. However, it is uneconomical to construct such walls. Ideally, shear wall should respond in a
ductile manner. This can be achieved by proper detailing so that make it capable to undergo large
inelastic deformation and dissipate large seismic energy. Sometimes, wall foundation not anchored
properly, This will limit the lateral load capacity to it's overturning capacity.


Foundations are the interface between a structure and the supporting soils. Foundations primarily
provide support for vertical gravity loads from the weight of structure, but they also provide resistance
to horizontal sliding resulting from earthquake ground motions. When earthquake ground motion
occurs, the resulting ground motion, velocities and accelerations are imparted to foundation and in
turn transferred to a building. The performance of shear wall during an earthquake depends on the
foundation being able to provide,
-Continued vertical support.
-Friction and passive bearing at the soil to foundation interface to minimize movement and damage.
-Anchorage at the foundation to shear wall interface.
-Strength and stiffness sufficient to resists both horizontal and vertical loads resulting from racking
and overturning of shear wall.
An important criterion for the design of earthquake resisting structures is that the foundation system
should be capable of supporting the design gravity loads while maintaining the chosen seismic energy
dissipating mechanisms. Moments and shear forces in the foundation structure may be strongly
affected by the distribution of reactive pressure induced in the supporting soil. Often, instead of being
distributed over the entire plan of a building, seismic resistance is concentrated at a few localities
where structural walls have been positioned. As a consequence, the local demand on the foundations
may be very large and indeed critical. The performance of the foundation system will profoundly
influence the response of the structural wall superstructure.

In this section the effect of site specific responses spectrum on design of shear wall foundation are
studied. Here shear wall foundation are studied for 10 and 20 storey building. The foundation is
proportioned and designed for support reaction obtained from analysis results. Isolated footing is
considered as a foundation system for the shear wall foundation. In case of core shear wall foundation
the footing of shear wall will overlap. So, it is necessary to keep such overlap of area in mind while
considering the area of footing. Generally the core shear wall footing can be designed as a slab beam
type of footing or slab type footing of uniform depth. Both type of core shear wall footing are
discussed below.
Slab and beam type footing
When the bending moment acting on shear wall is very large, this type of footing becomes
economical. A beam and slab are provided under the shear wall to act as a foundation and are shown
in Fig.1.4. The footing slab shall be designed as a cantilever from the beam and the beam will be
designed as a cantilever from the face
of shear wall.
In core type shear wall footing it is
observed that along the width of the
footing, the pressures are constant
whereas along the length, the upward
pressures are varying. There may be a
reversal of moment where Pmax will
become Pmin or vice versa. So, the slab
will be designed for maximum upward
pressures may be considered for beam
In footing design, the two way action
of the footing is distributed as one way bending of slab and one way bending of beam. Thus, check for
two way shear is not applicable in this type of foundation. Also, the foundation is treated separately as
a slab and beam. Thus, the reinforcement provisions like minimum reinforcement, spacing etc. will be
as per slab and beam.

Uniform thickness slab type footing

This type of footing is shown in Fig.1.5 and is designed as an inverted cantilever from shear wall
loaded with net upward soil pressure. The bending moment at any section shall be determined by
passing through the section a
vertical plane which extends
completely across the footing and
computing the moment of forces
acting over the entire area of
footing on one side and it is used in
the design of an isolated concrete
footing which supports the shear

Madhekar, Manoj S., and Jain, Sudhir. K., Seismic behavior, design and
detailing of RC shear walls, Part I: Behavior and strength ICJ Compilation,
Volume 67, No.7, July 1993 pp.311-318.
IS1893: (Part I)-2002, Criteria for Earthquake Resistant Design of
Structures (Part 1) Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi, 2002.
Madhekar, Manoj S., and Jain, Sudhir. K., Seismic behavior, design and
detailing of RC shear walls, Part II: Design and detailing ICJ Compilation,
Volume 67, No.9, September 1993 pp.451-457.
IS: 456-2000, Plain and Reinforced concrete-code of practice Bureau of
Indian Standards, New Delhi, 2000.