AbstractAn innovative yet extremely simple approach to reduce the seismic vulnerability of existing buildings on shallow foundations is to remove the lateral contact between the embedded foundation and the surrounding soil. This paper compares the dynamic response of two identical one-degree-of-freedom reduced-scale model sway frames tested in a geotechnical centrifuge. One of the models was founded on fully embedded shallow strip footings, whereas the foundations of the other were disconnected from the soil laterally. Both models were constructed in dry medium density sand whose strength and small strain shear stiffness profiles were obtained by cone penetration and air hammer tests carried out in flight. Various tools were used to monitor the displacements and accelerations both in the structure and in the soil, including micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers, piezoelectric accelerometers, LVDTs, and a high-frequency camera. The experimental results demonstrate that the lateral disconnection of the foundation from the adjacent soil significantly reduces the foundation translational and rotational stiffness, which results in a larger predominant period of the structure and a reduction of the absolute floor accelerations obtained for different sinusoidal input signals. The lateral disconnection also mitigates floor drift and story shear forces. The trade-off is the lower radiative damping observed for the laterally disconnected foundation, which results in a larger number of post-earthquake oscillations of the structure.

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