The World Housing Encyclopedia (WHE) Report Database contains 130 reports on housing construction types in 43 seismically active countries. Each housing report is a detailed description of a housing type in a particular country. The description is prepared from a number of standard closed-ended questions and some narrative that have been provided by report authors. Each report has five major categories including architectural and structural features; Building Materials and Construction Process; Socio-economic Issues; Past Performance In Earthquakes, Seismic Features and Vulnerability; and Retrofit. All of the housing reports in this database have been contributed by volunteers. If you are interested in writing a housing report please contact the WHE Editorial Board.


The World Housing Encyclopedia (WHE) is a collection of resources related to housing construction practices in the seismically active areas of the world. The mission is to share experiences with different construction types and encourage the use of earthquake-resistant technologies worldwide. The technical activities of the WHE are steered by an international team of 22 professionals specializing in different aspects of seismic safety of buildings and structures. They bring relevant experience from 16 seismically active countries across the world. For more information about the World Housing Encyclopedia, visit

General Information


Report #:77
Building Type: Buildings protected with "disengaging reserve elements" (vyklyuchayu-shchiesya svyazi)
Country: Russian Federation
Author(s): Jacob Eisenberg
Svetlana Uranova
Ulugbek T. Begaliev
Last Updated:
Regions Where Found: This system is widely used in seismic prone areas of Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union. In Russia, there are around 140 buildings protected with this system; out of them, 120 buildings were built in North Baykal-city (Neriungry, Severobaikalsk) in 1974-76 (Baykal-Amur Railway Road), and the remaining buildings were constructed in Siberia, Kamchatka in 1980s and 1990s. There are several dozens of buildings protected by means of this system in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Georgia. The first building protected using this system was constructed in 1972 in Sevastopol, Ukraine (former Soviet Union).

This building type is characterized with a special system of ...

Length of time practiced: Less than 25 years
Still Practiced: Yes
In practice as of:
Building Occupancy: Residential, 20-49 unitsResidential, 50+ units
Typical number of stories: 9
Terrain-Flat: Typically
Terrain-Sloped: 3
Comments: Walls at the ground floor level (where "Disengaging Reserve Elements" are installed) are not load-bearing structures. Majority





Plan Shape Rectangular, solid
Additional comments on plan shape
Typical plan length (meters) 54
Typical plan width (meters) 12
Typical story height (meters) 3
Type of Structural System Other: Seismic Protection Systems: Building protected with seismic dampers
Additional comments on structural system Gravity load-bearing structure is RC frame at the ground floor level and large precast panels or brick masonry wall construction at the upper floor levels. In Russia, upper stories in majority of buildings protected with this system are of large panel RC construction of various series (e.g. 308), and in Kyrgyzstan upper stories are of reinforced brick masonry construction. Lateral load-resisting system consists of a concrete frame at the ground floor level and the load-bearing wall structure (either large precast panel construction or brick masonry wall construction) above the ground floor level. Ground floor structure is therefore substantially more flexible as compared to the structure above. Special devices called "Disengaging Reserve Elements" (DRE) are installed at the ground floor level. DRE consist of a "rigid structure" connected to the adjacent RC frame members by means of disengaging restraints. Lateral stiffness of a "rigid structure" is substantially larger as compared to the other elements e.g. concrete columns. Typically, "rigid structures" are RC wall panels (Type 2 Figure 7). The "rigid structure" does not carry any gravity loads. Alternatively, "rigid structures" consist of spatial elements; see Type 1 Figure 6). Disengaging restraints are sacrificial reserve elements (fuses) which serve as restraints for the "rigid structures". Typical restraints are steel plates joined together by means of rivets or steel bolts, steel bars, concrete prisms or cubes, etc. Initially (at the lower ground motion levels), DRE and RC frame system (at the ground floor level) work together as a rigid structure; at that stage, disengaging elements transfer lateral loads to rigid structures (RC panels). The initial fundamental period of vibration is typically on the order of 0.3 -0.45 sec, depending on the number of stories and a structural system. However, once the lateral load exceeds the prescribed level (depending on the site seismicity and other factors), disengaging elements get broken and disconnected from the "rigid structures". At that stage, due to the suddenly increased flexibility, a building changes vibration period to a higher value of about 0.8-1.0 sec. As a result, resonance effects are avoided and seismic loads is reduced. After an earthquake, disengaging restraints need to be replaced by new elements, however the cost is not high and the replacement is not complex. It is considered that the seismic load in buildings protected with the DRE system is reduced to 1/2 of the level expected for a conventional building. Buildings with the DRE system are designed for lower level of seismic forces as compared to conventional buildings. Buildings with the DRE system were exposed to dynamic loads which simulate earthquake effects using the vibration equipment. Design recommendations for buildings protected with DRE system were developed based on numerous experimental and analytical investigations. The system was developed by Prof. J. Eisenberg. The development started in 1970 and the first building protected using the DRE system (vyklyuchayu-shchiesya svyazi) was constructed in 1972 in Sevastopol, Ukraine (former Soviet Union).
Gravity load-bearing & lateral load-resisting systems There is a moment-resisting RC frame at the ground floor level and load-bearing wall system (precast large panel construction - type 22 or brick masonry wall construction-type 9) at the upper floor levels. Note that brick masonry construction was not completely unreinforced - reinforced concrete elements were added at certain locations in the walls.
Typical wall densities in direction 1 15-20%
Typical wall densities in direction 2 15-20%
Additional comments on typical wall densities The typical structural wall density is up to 20 %. Total wall area/plan area is about 0.15. Wall density in two principal directions is not equal; in one of the directions wall density is less by 20 to 30% as compared to the other direction.
Wall Openings The overall window area is on the order of 15 to 35% of the exterior wall area; overall door area is approximately 10% of the interior wall area. At the upper floor levels, the overall window and door areas account for approximately 20% of the overall wall area.
Is it typical for buildings of this type to have common walls with adjacent buildings? No
Modifications of buildings The modifications at the lower floor levels usually include non-structural (exterior and interior) walls. Typical modifications at the upper floors include perforation of walls with door and windows openings, and/or partial removal of walls.
Type of Foundation Shallow Foundation: Reinforced concrete isolated footingShallow Foundation: Reinforced concrete strip footingDeep Foundation: Reinforced concrete bearing piles
Additional comments on foundation Type of foundation depends on soil conditions.
Type of Floor System Other floor system
Additional comments on floor system Precast solid slabs (large panel construction), hollow core slabs (masonry construction)
Type of Roof System Concrete roof, unknown
Additional comments on roof system Precast solid slabs (large panel construction), hollow core slabs (masonry construction)
Additional comments section 2 When separated from adjacent buildings, the typical distance from a neighboring building is 10-50 meters.


Building Materials and Construction Process



Description of Building Materials

Structural Element Building Material (s)Comment (s)
Wall/Frame Reinforced concrete30-35 MPa (cube compressive strength) 390 MPa (steel yield strength)
Foundations Reinforced concrete10-15 MPa (cube compressive strength) 295 MPa (steel yield strength)
Floors Reinforced concrete30-35 MPa (cube compressive strength) 390 MPa (steel yield strength)
Roof Reinforced concrete30-35 MPa (cube compressive strength) 390 MPa (steel yield strength)

Design Process

Who is involved with the design process? EngineerArchitect
Roles of those involved in the design process Design of buildings of this construction type was done completely by engineers and architects. Researchers also participated in the development of design documentation. Engineers played a leading role in each stage of construction.
Expertise of those involved in the design process The expertise required for the design and construction of this type is available. Building designs were prepared by design institutes. The academic background of the designers is the same as for conventional construction. It is not required to have designers with high academic degrees e.g. M.Sc. and Ph.D. on the team. Construction of base isolated buildings and the approval of the designs were controlled by research institutes (State Experts) like any other new construction performed in accordance with the Building Code requirements.

Construction Process

Who typically builds this construction type? Builder
Roles of those involved in the building process Construction is performed by builders.
Expertise of those involved in building process The expertise required for the design and construction of this type is available. Building designs were prepared by design institutes. The academic background of the designers is the same as for conventional construction. It is not required to have designers with high academic degrees e.g. M.Sc. and Ph.D. on the team. Construction of base isolated buildings and the approval of the designs were controlled by research institutes (State Experts) like any other new construction performed in accordance with the Building Code requirements.
Construction process and phasing Designs are developed in the design institutes. Specialized construction companies make precast concrete elements and perform casting of concrete in-situ. Precast elements are fabricated at the plants. The main construction equipment is the same as in the case of conventional concrete construction and it includes crane, welding equipment and concrete mixers. The construction of this type of housing takes place in a single phase. Typically, the building is originally designed for its final constructed size.
Construction issues

Building Codes and Standards

Is this construction type address by codes/standards? Yes
Applicable codes or standards SNiP II-7-81. Building in Seismic Regions.Design Code. The year the first code/standard addressing this type of construction issued was 1981. SNiP II-7-81. Building in Seismic Regions - Design Code Recommendations for Design of Buildings with "Disengaging Reserve Elements" CNIISK, Moscow, 1987. The most recent code/standard addressing this construction type issued was 1981.
Process for building code enforcement Building permit will be given if the design documents have been approved by the State Experts. State Experts check the compliance of design documents with the pertinent Building Codes. According to the building bylaws, building cannot be used without the formal approval by a special committee. The committee gives the approval if design documents are complete and the construction has been carried out in compliance with the Building Codes.

Building Permits and Development Control Rules

Are building permits required? Yes
Is this typically informal construction? No
Is this construction typically authorized as per development control rules? Yes
Additional comments on building permits and development control rules

Building Maintenance and Condition

Typical problems associated with this type of construction
Who typically maintains buildings of this type? BuilderOwner(s)Renter(s)
Additional comments on maintenance and building condition

Construction Economics

Unit construction cost For load-bearing structure only (including the disengaging elements) the cost is about 210 US$/m#. For a similar prefabricated concrete panel building (seria 105) without disengaging elements the construction cost would be 50-200 US$/m#. Therefore, the increase in unit cost due to the installation of seismic belt is in the range from 10 to 40 %.
Labor requirements It would take from 12 to18 months for a team of 10 workers to construct a load-bearing structure.
Additional comments section 3


Socio-Economic Issues



Patterns of occupancy In general, in a building of this type there are 3-4 housing units per building unit ("Block-Section"). One family occupies one housing unit. Depending on the size of the building (number of stories), 32 to 64 families occupy one building.
Number of inhabitants in a typical building of this construction type during the day >20
Number of inhabitants in a typical building of this construction type during the evening/night >20
Additional comments on number of inhabitants
Economic level of inhabitants Low-income class (poor)Middle-income class
Additional comments on economic level of inhabitants 40% poor, 60% middle class Ratio of housing unit price to annual income: 1:1 or better
Typical Source of Financing Owner financedPersonal savingsInformal network: friends or relativesGovernment-owned housing
Additional comments on financing Until 1990 (the breakdown of the Soviet Union), the financing for buildings of this type had been provided by the Government. At the present time, all new and existing apartment buildings are privately owned.
Type of Ownership RentOwn outrightUnits owned individually (condominium)
Additional comments on ownership
Is earthquake insurance for this construction type typically available? No
What does earthquake insurance typically cover/cost
Are premium discounts or higher coverages available for seismically strengthened buildings or new buildings built to incorporate seismically resistant features? No
Additional comments on premium discounts
Additional comments section 4





Past Earthquakes in the country which affected buildings of this type

YearEarthquake Epicenter Richter Magnitude Maximum Intensity
45 (MSK)

Past Earthquakes

Damage patterns observed in past earthquakes for this construction type Buildings protected with the Disengaging Reserve Elements were not damaged in the 1984 earthquake. Buildings of this type were tested by the special vibration equipment and subjected to dynamic loads simulating seismic effects.
Additional comments on earthquake damage patterns Damage of load-bearing structure is possible; however it is expected to be less as compared to buildings without the disengaging elements. (Frame earthquake damage): Damage of sacrificial elements (restraints) that are replaceable after the earthquake expected.

Structural and Architectural Features for Seismic Resistance

The main reference publication used in developing the statements used in this table is FEMA 310 “Handbook for the Seismic Evaluation of Buildings-A Pre-standard”, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C., 1998.

The total width of door and window openings in a wall is: For brick masonry construction in cement mortar : less than ½ of the distance between the adjacent cross walls; For adobe masonry, stone masonry and brick masonry in mud mortar: less than 1/3 of the distance between the adjacent cross walls; For precast concrete wall structures: less than 3/4 of the length of a perimeter wall.
Structural/Architectural Feature Statement Seismic Resistance
Lateral load pathThe structure contains a complete load path for seismic force effects from any horizontal direction that serves to transfer inertial forces from the building to the foundation.TRUE
Building Configuration-VerticalThe building is regular with regards to the elevation. (Specify in 5.4.1)TRUE
Building Configuration-HorizontalThe building is regular with regards to the plan. (Specify in 5.4.2)TRUE
Roof ConstructionThe roof diaphragm is considered to be rigid and it is expected that the roof structure will maintain its integrity, i.e. shape and form, during an earthquake of intensity expected in this area.TRUE
Floor ConstructionThe floor diaphragm(s) are considered to be rigid and it is expected that the floor structure(s) will maintain its integrity during an earthquake of intensity expected in this area.TRUE
Foundation PerformanceThere is no evidence of excessive foundation movement (e.g. settlement) that would affect the integrity or performance of the structure in an earthquake. TRUE
Wall and Frame Structures-RedundancyThe number of lines of walls or frames in each principal direction is greater than or equal to 2.TRUE
Wall ProportionsHeight-to-thickness ratio of the shear walls at each floor level is: Less than 25 (concrete walls); Less than 30 (reinforced masonry walls); Less than 13 (unreinforced masonry walls);TRUE
Foundation-Wall ConnectionVertical load-bearing elements (columns, walls) are attached to the foundations; concrete columns and walls are doweled into the foundation.TRUE
Wall-Roof ConnectionsExterior walls are anchored for out-of-plane seismic effects at each diaphragm level with metal anchors or straps. TRUE
Wall OpeningsTRUE
Quality of Building MaterialsQuality of building materials is considered to be adequate per the requirements of national codes and standards (an estimate). FALSE
Quality of WorkmanshipQuality of workmanship (based on visual inspection of a few typical buildings) is considered to be good (per local construction standards).FALSE
MaintenanceBuildings of this type are generally well maintained and there are no visible signs of deterioration of building elements (concrete, steel, timber).FALSE

Additional comments on structural and architectural features for seismic resistance
Vertical irregularities typically found in this construction type Other
Horizontal irregularities typically found in this construction type Other
Seismic deficiency in walls A conventional building of large panel concrete construction or brick masonry construction: poor quality of panel joints and inadequate masonry strength.
Earthquake-resilient features in walls
Seismic deficiency in frames Poor quality of concrete, lack of cover to the reinforcement in particular, the "as constructed"reinforcement locations do not match with the design; inadequate length of lap splices in steel rebars; inadequate confinement in the highly loaded areas.
Earthquake-resilient features in frame
Seismic deficiency in roof and floors
Earthquake resilient features in roof and floors
Seismic deficiency in foundation
Earthquake-resilient features in foundation

Seismic Vulnerability Rating

For information about how seismic vulnerability ratings were selected see the Seismic Vulnerability Guidelines

High vulnerabilty Medium vulnerabilityLow vulnerability
Seismic vulnerability class |- o -|

Additional comments section 5

Retrofit Information



Description of Seismic Strengthening Provisions

Structural Deficiency Seismic Strengthening
Building damage - broken disengaging elements Replacement of the damaged elements with the new ones

Additional comments on seismic strengthening provisions
Has seismic strengthening described in the above table been performed? No. Buildings of this type are already strengthened by means of disengaging reserve elements.
Was the work done as a mitigation effort on an undamaged building or as a repair following earthquake damages? Not applicable.
Was the construction inspected in the same manner as new construction? Not very often.
Who performed the construction: a contractor or owner/user? Was an architect or engineer involved? These are mostly owner-built buildings. Sometimes engineers/architects are involved, if the construction is formal (government-funded or if funding is provided by international organizations) and if constructed in remote areas.
What has been the performance of retrofitted buildings of this type in subsequent earthquakes? There were no reported major earthquakes after the construction was performed.
Additional comments section 6



Eisenberg J.M. Construction With Disengaging Reserve Elements for Seismic Regions. Moscow, 1976.

Eisenberg, J. et al. Applications of Seismic Isolation in the USSR. Proceedings of the Tenth World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Balkema, Rotterdam, Vol.4, 1992, p. 2039-2044.

Building and Construction Design in Seismic Regions Handbook. Uranova S.K., Imanbekov S.T., et al. KyrgyzNIIPStroitelstva, Building Ministry Kyrgyz Republic.Bishkek.1996.

Eisenberg, J. and Bealiev, V.S. Operating Experience in Designing and Construction of the System of Special Seismic Isolation of Buildings and Constructions in the former Russia. Proceedings of the Eleventh World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Pergamon, Elsevier Science Ltd., Oxford, England, 1996, Paper No. 263.

Eisenberg, J. et al. Seismoisolation in Russia and former USSR Countries: Recent Developments. Proceedings of the International Post-SMiRt Conference Seminar, Cheju, Korea, Korea Earthquake Engineering Research Center, Seoul, Korea, 1999,Vol.1, p. 99-115.

Experimental Buildings with Seismic Protection in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy (in Russian)

Recommendations for design of buildings with #Disengaging Reserve Elements CNIISK, Moscow 1987


Name Title Affiliation Location Email
Jacob Eisenberg Pr., Chairman Russian National Committee for Earthquake Engineering 4 Berezhkovsky Embankment Art 110, Moscow, 121059,Russian Federation, 007-095-945-36-28,
Svetlana Uranova Head of Laboratory KRSU Kievskai 44, Bishkek 720000, KYRGYZSTAN
Ulugbek T. Begaliev Head of Department KNIIPC Vost Prom ZoneCholponatisky 2,Bishkek,720571,Kyrgyzstan,996-3312-237564


Name Title Affiliation Location Email
Svetlana N. Brzev Instructor Civil and Structural Engineering Technology, British Columbia Institute of Technology Burnaby BC V5G 3H2, CANADA