Join SMARTnet

‘If each person solves the small problems over which they have control, then the larger problems will disappear’. (Confucius 551-478 BC)

About SMARTnet

Imagine the global impact we’ll have if we can prove that instead of 5 horizontal bands (an important seismic element) we only need 4 or maybe even only 3… And what if it turns out that vertical reinforcements in heavy stone masonry aren’t needed at all… That would make construction of these buildings so much easier and cheaper at the same time.

SMARTnet stands for “Seismic Methodologies for Applied Research and Testing of
non-engineered techniques”.

This innovative and groundbreaking research project aims to improve non-engineered techniques using natural materials. The focus is on earthquake zones in developing countries, but it can also be applied to modern architecture. It’s important that we know more about the behavior of such techniques during an earthquake so that we can make buildings safer, more sustainable and also cheaper.

Unfortunately, in-depth reviews show that the available information in national codes, technical regulations and practical manuals around the world is not fit for purpose. Most of the information comes from a few main sources from the 1980s, which have been changed over the years without clear explanations or reasons. These main sources have never been properly updated, which means that this knowledge hasn’t evolved or improved in the last 35 to 40 years.

Furthermore, most manuals and codes are presented as one-size-fits-all publications that don’t provide solutions for different seismic hazard levels or different building typologies. Simply put, a wall made of round river boulders with mud mortar behaves very differently from a wall made of coursed rubble stones with cement mortar.

It is time that we find clear answers and take action!

The SMARTnet strategy envisions a collaborative approach to global collaboration to comprehensively assess, validate, optimize, and add to existing knowledge of non-engineered techniques using state-of-the-art calculating, testing, and modelling methods.

We are a 100% open-source -program, we share, we exchange and we collaborate.

SMARTnet's unique approach

“Our approach is innovative, as we include variables on which only limited research has been done”

Currently, a team of more than 25 masonry experts is working with SMARTnet on a comprehensive assessment of an SSF school building and a typical rural house typically built in Nepal.

The calculations and masonry verifications are done by hand and with 10 different software packages according to the codes of Nepal, India, China, Tajikistan, the USA and Europe. This gives us a better understanding of the seismic behaviour of these buildings and allows us to improve the overall design requirements and construction specifications.

The key is to determine reliable material properties while incorporating variables for local material quality and workmanship. This requires defining workable best- and worst-case scenarios and developing uniform test protocols with a focus on low-strength mortars and masonry. Tests on masonry specimens from the Himalayan region will be carried out at various institutes in India.

Such an approach does currently not exist for assessing new constructions in stone masonry. Our philosophy will also be applicable to other techniques, such as earthen structures, traditional wood buildings, as well as confined masonry.

In the near future, we will develop an open-source platform that makes all validated knowledge available to end users of all levels. Such as practical on-site manuals for the people in the field, to stand-alone building codes for engineers and policymakers. Our knowledge must be understandable, practical, and useful so that more people in the world can make use of it.

“Non-Engineered 2.0” – A Call to Action!

To make progress and address the above shortcomings, we need new insights and a drastic change in attitude that requires a full-time commitment and a structured, systematic, and science-based long-term approach to significantly improve the seismic behavior of traditional and vernacular techniques. This is emphasized in our international call to action as follows:

1 High-tech seismic design of concrete and steel structures is based on scientifically peer-reviewed research and validated engineering practice. This has led to national and international building codes that regulate the seismic resilience of such structures and provide the basis for authorities and the construction industry.

2 Low-tech seismic design of vernacular buildings isn’t based on peer-reviewed scientific research and validated engineering knowledge. It’s mostly based on rules of thumb and best practices. The standards and guidelines for such structures are often outdated, contradictory, and incomplete, and, by and large, not fit for purpose.

3 If we’re to address low-tech seismic design and construction of vernacular buildings, we must first acknowledge these shortcomings.

4 Recognition must be accompanied by a prioritization of scientific research focused on improving our understanding and increasing the resilience of low-tech vernacular buildings during seismic events.

5 This call to action focuses on establishing national and international building codes for low-tech vernacular buildings in earthquake-prone areas. These will be based on validated scientific research using the current state of the art for calculations, testing and modeling. This work is translated into simplified and practical seismic construction guidelines for local practitioners.

All this with the ultimate goal of reduce loss of life and financial losses in disaster-prone areas, and to support eco-friendly solutions that help address the environmental crisis.

To achieve “Non-Engineered 2.0”, SMARTnet invites experts, professionals, academics and final-year students from all relevant fields to share their knowledge and support the project with their time and expertise. If you’d like to join, please contact us here.

Experts & Reviewers

We are looking for experts and reviewers who are specialized in non-engineered techniques, vernacular architecture, and low-tech earthquake engineering. And specialists in alternative construction, use of natural materials, and reuse of recyclables.
We would like to exchange knowledge, receive input, and share experiences.

Currently, we are seeking your expertise for the following topics:

Seismic Engineering – Rubble Stone Masonry – Material Properties -Seismic Testing- Seismic Modeling.

If you have any questions, or you would like to request a topic for research, please contact us at or via our contact page.

Your input is very valuable to us!

Students & Faculties

The research assignments are designed as final-year or thesis assignments and have a duration of at least 6 months. If you only have a timeline of 3-6 months, we can discuss if it is feasible. If you have less than 3 months, unfortunately, it is not possible to join. All assignments will be conducted at your own university or polytechnic.

Our research assignments are divided into different categories. Please choose a topic that fits, or is complementary to your study:

Project SMARTnet will be THE place to work with fellow students, technical experts, and aid industry professionals around the world. We welcome students worldwide from universities and polytechnics with a study in Architecture or Engineering.

We will help you bring your research to success!

Fill out the Contact form if you want to join or have questions, you can also send an email to

Requests: What research do you need?

Are you looking for a specific piece of information in the abundance of books, manuals, and documents out there, but you really can’t find it?

Have you found a niche or missing knowledge regarding a specific topic, but you don’t have the time or expertise to figure it all out yourself?

Please let us know what kind of information or knowledge you are looking for, and we may be able to add your request to our research programs. Inquire about the possibilities, or describe your request for further research here.