Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Architecture - Architectural Engineering


Peter Laursen


Interlocking compressed earth blocks (ICEBs) are cement stabilized soil blocks that allow for dry stacked construction. The incomplete understanding of the inelastic performance of ICEB building systems limits widespread acceptance of this structural system in earthquake prone areas. This thesis presents results from an experimental program designed to explore the behavior of ICEB walls, built according to current design practice in Indonesia and Thailand, and subjected to out-of-plane loading. A total of five reinforced and grouted ICEB walls were constructed and tested.

Results from experimentation show the current masonry design code, ACI 530, adequately predicts the yield strength of these walls. However, ACI 530 grossly over-predicts the ICEB wall stiffness. All tests showed flexural behavior and failure, except for one wall. A brittle failure was observed in one wall before reaching the predicted flexural strength, prompting a suggested maximum shear tie spacing. The testing results provide useful data for developing analytical models that predicts the seismic behavior of ICEB walls under out-of-plane loading.

A moment-curvature relationship was developed that accurately predicts the behavior of these walls in the elastic range as well as the inelastic range. By comparing the data provided by two walls of similar sizes, one including a pilaster and one without a pilaster, insight into stiffener elements was gained. Analysis of these two walls provides a limit on the length and height of ICEB walls without stiffener elements to prevent significant structural damage during a seismic event. In all, conclusions based on experimental data from ICEB out-of-plane loading tests are aimed to provide suggestions for ICEB construction in areas of high-seismicity.