Assessing the safety of vaulted masonry structures using Thrust Network Analysis

Maia Avelino R., Iannuzzo A., Van Mele T. and Block P.
Computers and Structures
doi: 10.1016/j.compstruc.2021.106647

This paper presents a methodology to assess the stability of vaulted masonry structures using Thrust Network Analysis (TNA). It offers a new numerical strategy for the lower-bound estimation of the Geometric Safety Factor (GSF) of a given structure by directly computing its minimum thickness. Moreover, it provides an approach for tracing the vault's Stability Domain based on its extreme thrust values, which indicates the robustness of the structure. Together, these outcomes represent a proper measure of the safety level of masonry structures. Such results are obtained as the solutions of specific constrained non-linear optimisation problems (NLPs) with appropriate objective functions. The constraints of the NLPs define internal admissible stress states, requiring that a network of compression-only forces lies within the structural geometry to assess. Networks with fixed horizontal projection are considered, for which the spatial geometry is a function of the independent force densities and of the height of the restrained nodes. A new numerical procedure based on Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) is used to improve the selection of such independent force densities. The range of applications of the present method includes arbitrary network topologies and different support conditions. Indeed, to clearly show the method's flexibility, the proposed NLPs are solved for structures whose geometry is described analytically as well as numerically, e.g. from point clouds. The strategy presented is implemented in a Python-based tool, within the COMPAS open-source framework. Some relevant applications are proposed and discussed to clearly illustrate the method’s potential in assessing the stability of three-dimensional historic vaulted structures.


    author  = "Maia Avelino, R. and Iannuzzo, A. and Van Mele, T. and Block, P. ",
    title   = "Assessing the safety of vaulted masonry structures using Thrust Network Analysis",
    journal = "Computers and Structures",
    year    = "2021",
    volume  = "257",
    number  = "",
    pages   = "106647",
    month   = "",
    doi     = "10.1016/j.compstruc.2021.106647",
    note    = "",

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