Numerical approaches for cross-laminated timber roof structure optimization in seismic retrofitting of a historical masonry church

  • 112 Accesses

  • 1 Citations


In recent earthquakes, historical masonry churches have demonstrated to be vulnerable structures. Strengthening interventions based on the introduction of a roof diaphragm can be considered a valid solution in order to obtain a box-behaviour of this kind of structures. Among the possible different roof-diaphragm solutions, the wooden based ones represent an effective alternative, satisfying the conservation requirements in terms of material compatibility and reversibility, together with a significant improvement of the structural behaviour. After a short literature review of all the wooden based strengthening interventions, the possibility to consider cross-laminated timber (CLT) as a roof-diaphragm strengthening for existing churches is discussed in this paper. The effectiveness of this retrofitting solution is inquired numerically by means of different kind of linear and nonlinear analysis, focusing on the role played by the steel connections among the different CLT panels. The Basilica of Collemaggio has been chosen as case study to test the possibility to apply CLT roof diaphragm on an existing masonry church, adopting different modelling approaches. A short discussion on the optimisation of the steel connection layout is also presented.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18
Fig. 19


  1. Augenti N, Parisi F (2010) Learning from construction failures due to the 2009 L’Aquila. J Perform Constr Facil, Italy, Earthquake.

  2. Benedetti D, Castellani A (1981) Costruzioni in zona sismica. Masson Italia, Milano

  3. Betti M, Vignoli A (2011) Numerical assessment of the static and seismic behaviour of the basilica of Santa Maria all’Impruneta (Italy). Constr Build Mater.

  4. Betti M, Galano L, Vignoli A (2014) Comparative analysis on the seismic behaviour of unreinforced masonry buildings with flexible diaphragms. Eng Struct.

  5. Betti M, Borghini A, Boschi S et al (2018) Comparative seismic risk assessment of basilica-type churches. J Earthq Eng.

  6. Blass HJ, Uibel T (2013) Joints with dowel type fasteners in CLT structure. In: European conference on Cross Laminated Timber. Graz, pp 119–134

  7. Blass HJ, Aune P, Choo BS et al (1995) Timber engineering. Step 1: basis of design, material properties, structural components and joints. In: Hout C (ed)

  8. Brandonisio G, Mele E, Santaniello R, De Luca A (2008) Seismic safety of basilica churches: analysis of ten case studies. In: Struct Anal Hist Constr Preserv Saf significance Proc Sixth Int Conf Struct Anal Hist Constr 2–4 July 2008, Bath, United Kingdom

  9. Ceccotti A (2010) Il progetto SOFIE sugli edifici di legno con tecnologia X-lam: riflessioni a margine delle prove sismiche su tavola vibrante. Rivista Modulo, BE MA Editrice, Milano

  10. Corradi M, Borri A, Righetti L, Speranzini E (2017) Uncertainty analysis of FRP reinforced timber beams. Compos Part B Eng.

  11. D’Ayala DF, Paganoni S (2011) Assessment and analysis of damage in L’Aquila historic city centre after 6th April 2009. Bull Earthq Eng.

  12. Dal Cin A, Russo S (2016) Annex and rigid diaphragm effects on the failure analysis and earthquake damages of historic churches. Eng Fail Anal.

  13. EN1995-1-1 (2008) Eurocode 5: design of timber structures—part 1-1: general common rules and rules for buildings. Proc ICE Civ Eng.

  14. ETA06/0138 (2017) Solid wood slab element to be used as a structural elements in building - EOTA

  15. ETA12/0281 (2018) HASSLACHER CROSS LAMINATED TIMBER—Solid wood slab element to be used as a structural element in buildings - EOTA

  16. Formisano A, Ciccone G, Mele A (2017) Large scale seismic vulnerability and risk evaluation of a masonry churches sample in the historical centre of Naples. In: AIP Conference Proceedings

  17. Gattesco N, Boem I (2018) Numerical study on the reduction of the seismic vulnerability of historical industrial buildings with wide timber roofs. Procedia Struct Integr.

  18. Gattesco N, Macorini L (2010) High reversibility technique for in-plane stiffening of wooden floors. In: Structural analysis of historic construction: preserving safety and significance

  19. Gavric I, Fragiacomo M, Popovski M, Ceccotti A (2014) Behaviour of cross-laminated timber panels under cyclic loads. RILEM Bookseries.

  20. Gavric I, Fragiacomo M, Ceccotti A (2015) Cyclic behaviour of typical metal connectors for cross-laminated (CLT) structures. Mater Struct Constr.

  21. Genshu T, Yongfeng Z (2007) Seismic force modification factors for modified-Clough hysteretic model. Eng Struct 29:3053–3070.

  22. Giuriani E (2004) L’organizzazione degli impalcati per gli edifici storici. Spec Legno Strutt 134:30–43

  23. Giuriani E, Marini A (2008) Wooden roof box structure for the anti-seismic strengthening of historic buildings. Int J Archit Herit.

  24. Giuriani EP, Marini A, Preti M (2016) Thin-folded shell for the renewal of existing wooden roofs. Int J Archit Herit.

  25. Gubana A (2010) Experimental tests on timber-to-cross lam composite section beams. In: Proc 11th World Conf Timber …

  26. Gubana A (2015) State-of-the-Art Report on high reversible timber to timber strengthening interventions on wooden floors. Constr Build Mater.

  27. Hossain A, Lakshman R, Tannert T (2015) Shear connections with self-tapping screws for cross-laminated timber panels. Conference ASCE Structures Congress, Portland, Oregon.

  28. Iervolino I, De Luca F, Cosenza E (2010a) Spectral shape-based assessment of SDOF nonlinear response to real, adjusted and artificial accelerograms. Eng Struct.

  29. Iervolino I, Galasso C, Cosenza E (2010b) REXEL: Computer aided record selection for code-based seismic structural analysis. Bull Earthq Eng.

  30. Iervolino I, Galasso C, Paolucci R, Pacor F (2011) Engineering ground motion record selection in the ITalian ACcelerometric Archive. Bull Earthq Eng.

  31. Izzi M, Trees CNRI (2014) Advanced modelling of CLT wall systems for earthquake resistant timber structures. In: State-of-the-art, pp 247–260

  32. Johansen KW (1949) Theory of timber connections, vol 9. IABSE Publications, pp 249–262

  33. Kubiak T (2013) Static and dynamic buckling of thin-walled plate structures. Springer, Switzerland

  34. Lagomarsino S (2012) Damage assessment of churches after L’Aquila earthquake (2009). Bull Earthq Eng 10:73–92.

  35. Lagomarsino S, Penna A, Galasco A, Cattari S (2013) TREMURI program: an equivalent frame model for the nonlinear seismic analysis of masonry buildings. Eng Struct 56:1787–1799.

  36. Larsen HJ (1977) Johansen’s nail tests. Bygningsstatiske meddelelser 48:9–30

  37. Lee J, Fenves GL (2002) Plastic-damage model for cyclic loading of concrete structures. J Eng Mech.

  38. Liberatore D, Doglioni C, AlShawa O et al (2019) Effects of coseismic ground vertical motion on masonry constructions damage during the 2016 Amatrice-Norcia (Central Italy) earthquakes. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng.

  39. Lin CCJ, Ghaboussi J (2001) Generating multiple spectrum compatible accelerograms using stochastic neural networks. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn.

  40. Lin H, Tang S, Lan C (2015) Damage analysis and evaluation of high strength concrete frame based on deformation-energy damage model. Math Probl Eng 2015:1–10.

  41. Longarini N, Crespi P, Franchi A et al (2018) Cross-lam roof diaphragm for the seismic retrofitting of historical masonry churches. In: Proceedings of the International Masonry Society Conferences

  42. Lourenço PB, Rots JG, Blaauwendraad J (1995) Two approaches for the analysis of masonry structures: micro and macro-modeling. Heron 40(4):313–340

  43. Lubliner J, Oliver J, Oller S, Oñate E (1989) A plastic-damage model for concrete. Int J Solids Struct.

  44. Lucibello G, Brandonisio G, Mele E, De Luca A (2010) Seismic Behavior of some Basilica Churches after L’Aquila 2009 Earthquake. Adv Mater Res.

  45. Marini A, Giuriani E, Belleri A, Cominelli S (2018) Dowel connections securing roof-diaphragms to perimeter walls in historic masonry buildings and in-field testing for capacity assessment. Bull Earthq Eng.

  46. Marques R (2014) Masonry box behavior. In: Encyclopedia of Earthquake Engineering

  47. Meda A, Riva P (2001) Strengthening of wooden floors with high performance concrete slabs. Restor Build Monum 9(6).

  48. Midas Midas GEN FX Program—general structure design system

  49. Milani G (2013) Lesson learned after the Emilia-Romagna, Italy, 20–29 May 2012 earthquakes: a limit analysis insight on three masonry churches. Eng Fail Anal.

  50. Milani G, Shehu R, Valente M (2017) Possibilities and limitations of innovative retrofitting for masonry churches: advanced computations on three case studies. Constr Build Mater.

  51. Milani G, Valente M, Alessandri C (2018) The narthex of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem: a non-linear finite element approach to predict the structural damage. Comput Struct.

  52. Mohler K, Maier G (1969) the coefficient of friction of spruce timber in view of the efficiency of timber-connections using frictional resistance. Holz als Roh und Werkst 27:303–307

  53. Moreira S, Ramos LF, Oliveira DV, Lourenço PB (2016) Design parameters for seismically retrofitted masonry-to-timber connections: injection anchors. Int J Archit Heritage 10:217–234

  54. NTC2018 (2018) Norme Tecniche per le Costruzioni. Ministero delle infrastrutture e dei trasporti. Supplemento ordinario n. 8 alla Gazzetta ufficiale Serie generale. n. 42

  55. Ongaretto E, Pozza L, Savoia M (2016) Wood-based solutions to improve quality and safety against seismic events in conservation of historical buildings. Int J Qual Res.

  56. Otani S (1981) Hysteresis models of reinforce concrete for earthquake response analysis. J Fac Eng 36:407–441

  57. Pagnoni T (1994) Seismic analysis of masonry and block structures with the discrete element method. In: 10th European conference, Earthquake engineering, pp 1674–1694

  58. Parisi MA, Piazza M (2015) Seismic strengthening and seismic improvement of timber structures. Constr Build Mater.

  59. Parisi MA, Chesi C, Tardini C, Piazza M (2008) Seismic vulnerability assessment for timber roof structures. In: The 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering

  60. Penna A, Morandi P, Rota M et al (2014) Performance of masonry buildings during the Emilia 2012 earthquake. Bull Earthq Eng 12:2255–2273.

  61. Piazza M, Baldessari C, Tomasi R (2008) The role of in-plane floor stiffness in the seismic behaviour of traditional buildings. In: 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering (WC)

  62. Plizzari G, Giuriani E (2001) Studio sperimentale sul comportamento dei solaio in legno rinforzati con lastra in acciaio per resistere alle azioni sismiche. In: V Workshop Italiano sulle costruzioni composte, pp 277–292

  63. Popovski M, Gavric I, Schneider J (2014) Performance of two-storey CLT house subjected to lateral loads. In: Proceedings of the 13th World Conference on Timber Engineering

  64. Preti M, Bolis V, Marini A, Giuriani E (2014) Example of the benefits of a dissipative roof diaphragm in the seismic response of masonry. In: Proc 9th Int Conf Struct Anal Hist Constr

  65. Preti M, Loda S, Bolis V et al (2017) Dissipative roof diaphragm for the seismic retrofit of listed masonry churches. J Earthq Eng.

  66. Rinaldin G, Amadio C, Fragiacomo M (2013) A component approach for the hysteretic behaviour of connections in cross-laminated wooden structures. Earthq Eng Struct Dyn.

  67. Roca P, Cervera M, Gariup G, Pela’ L (2010) Structural analysis of masonry historical constructions. Classical and advanced approaches. Arch Comput Methods Eng 17:299–325.

  68. Roensmaens B, Van Parys L, Branco J, Descamps T (2019) Proposal of a CLT reinforcement of old timber floors. In: RILEM Bookseries

  69. Ronca P, Crespi P, Bonardi D et al (2014) High performance wooden building subjected to seismic action. Int J Hous Sci Appl 38(3):161–172

  70. Sandhaas C, van de Kuilen JWG (2017) Strength and stiffness of timber joints with very high strength steel dowels. Eng Struct.

  71. Scotta R, Trutalli D, Marchi L, Pozza L (2018) Seismic performance of URM buildings with in-plane non-stiffened and stiffened timber floors. Eng Struct.

  72. Shahnewaz M, Alam S, Tannert T (2018) In-plane strength and stiffness of cross-laminated timber shear walls. Buildings.

  73. Sivaraja SS, Thandavamoorthy TS (2015) Dynamic behaviour of single storied box-type masonry buildings with and without roof slab and shock table studies on scaled building models. 41:601–611

  74. Sorelli LG, Meda A, Plizzari GA (2005) Bending and uniaxial tensile tests on concrete reinforced with hybrid steel fibers. J Mater Civ Eng.

  75. Tomasi R, Crosatti A, Piazza M (2010) Theoretical and experimental analysis of timber-to-timber joints connected with inclined screws. Constr Build Mater.

  76. Turrini G, Piazza M (1983) Una tecnica di recupero statico del solai in Legno TT—technique for static reinforcement of wooden beam floors. Recuperare 5:224–237

  77. Valente M, Milani G (2018a) Damage assessment and partial failure mechanisms activation of historical masonry churches under seismic actions: three case studies in Mantua. Eng Fail Anal.

  78. Valente M, Milani G (2018b) Damage survey, simplified assessment, and advanced seismic analyses of two masonry churches after the 2012 Emilia earthquake. Int J Archit Herit.

  79. Valente M, Milani G (2018c) Seismic response and damage patterns of masonry churches: seven case studies in Ferrara, Italy. Eng Struct.

  80. Valente M, Barbieri G, Biolzi L (2017a) Damage assessment of three medieval churches after the 2012 Emilia earthquake. Bull Earthq Eng.

  81. Valente M, Barbieri G, Biolzi L (2017b) Seismic assessment of two masonry Baroque churches damaged by the 2012 Emilia earthquake. Eng Fail Anal.

Download references


The authors kindly acknowledge prof. Alberto Franchi for his supervision and for the precise and useful suggestions given during the implementation of the numerical analyses.

Author information

Correspondence to Nicola Longarini.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Longarini, N., Crespi, P. & Scamardo, M. Numerical approaches for cross-laminated timber roof structure optimization in seismic retrofitting of a historical masonry church. Bull Earthquake Eng 18, 487–512 (2020).

Download citation


  • Cross-laminated timber
  • Roof
  • Historical masonry churches
  • Seismic retrofitting
  • Finite element model