In the last decade, cross laminated timber (CLT) has been receiving increasing attention as a promising construction material for multi-storey structures in areas of high seismicity. In Japan, application of CLT in building construction is still relatively new; however, there is increasing interest in CLT from researchers as well as construction companies. Furthermore, the Japanese government is providing construction cost subsidies for new CLT structures as it is a carbon neutral and sustainable material. The high shear and compressive strength of CLT makes it a good candidate for use as shear walls in mid-rise buildings. One important aspect of CLT walls, and one that is presently poorly understood, is the influence of openings on the shear carrying capacity. Openings are often necessary in CLT panels either in form of windows, doors, lift shaft openings or installation of building services. Concerning this aspect, the code regulations in Japan are relatively strict, such that if openings exceeded certain prescribed limits, the entire CLT panel is considered as a non-structural element, and its contribution to lateral strength is totally ignored. Furthermore, as the maximum opening size is usually governed by edge distance constraints, the size of openings that designers can use is inevitably limited by the standard sizes supplied by the manufacturers. As a result, designers are obligated to adopt very small opening size. This is thought to be a very conservative approach. The main purpose of this paper is to experimentally evaluate the influence of openings on seismic capacity; strength and stiffness reduction, as well as failure mode with changing opening size and opening aspect ratio. In addition, check the validity of the Japanese code regulations with regards to openings in CLT panels.
In this study, six 5-layer CLT panels containing different openings were tested. The parameters considered include the size and layout of the opening. The panels were specifically designed with openings that would render them ineffective in resisting lateral loads according to the Japanese standard. However, in addition to the six panels, one panel without openings and one panel with openings that meet the Japanese standard was designed. All the CLT panels were tested in uniaxial diagonal compression in order to simulate pure shear loading. The CLT panels and the loading setup were designed such that the resulting failure mode will be governed by a shear mechanism. The main focus of the experiment was to relate the deterioration of the lateral strength and stiffness of the panels to the size and layout of the opening.
The results showed that the panels with openings with the same area have relatively different failure direction and reduction factors for panel shear strength and stiffness, and that is due to the shear weak and strong direction that CLT panels have. Also, the effect of openings on the reduction of stiffness for CLT panels was found to be greater than their effect on the reduction of shear strength. The prescribed equation in the Japanese CLT Guidebook underpredicts stiffness reduction, and has discrepancies with regard to strength as the difference of panel strengths in weak and strong directions are not considered.