Design of Concrete Shear Walls

Written by david dunning
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A concrete shear wall is a structural element designed to resist horizontal, or shear, forces parallel to the plane of the wall. Concrete walls are typically structurally efficient, but become more attractive to building designers when they can withstand shear forces.

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The design process for concrete shear walls involves identifying the individual components that contribute to the shear resistance of the wall as a whole. Components with the ability to yield to shearing forces are more desirable than those that need to be protected from them.


The design of concrete shear walls must be based on the functional layout, or basic framework, of the building in which they are installed. Thereafter, the process is repetitious and involves the evaluation of horizontal forces, including those caused by wind or seismic activity.


To withstand horizontal and vertical forces, a stable concrete shear wall system must consist of at least three walls arranged so they are not aligned with one another. Typically, the amount of drift of concrete shear walls is limited to 1 per cent of their height.

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