Articles | Volume 18, issue 9
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3817–3836, 2014
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3817–3836, 2014

Research article 30 Sep 2014

Research article | 30 Sep 2014

A physical approach on flood risk vulnerability of buildings

B. Mazzorana1, S. Simoni2, C. Scherer3, B. Gems4, S. Fuchs5, and M. Keiler6 B. Mazzorana et al.
  • 1Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy
  • 2Mountain-eering S.r.l., Bolzano, Italy
  • 3Obrist & Partner Engineering, Caldaro, Italy
  • 4Institute for Infrastructure Engineering, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 5Institute of Mountain Risk Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
  • 6Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Abstract. The design of efficient hydrological risk mitigation strategies and their subsequent implementation relies on a careful vulnerability analysis of the elements exposed. Recently, extensive research efforts were undertaken to develop and refine empirical relationships linking the structural vulnerability of buildings to the impact forces of the hazard processes. These empirical vulnerability functions allow estimating the expected direct losses as a result of the hazard scenario based on spatially explicit representation of the process patterns and the elements at risk classified into defined typological categories. However, due to the underlying empiricism of such vulnerability functions, the physics of the damage-generating mechanisms for a well-defined element at risk with its peculiar geometry and structural characteristics remain unveiled, and, as such, the applicability of the empirical approach for planning hazard-proof residential buildings is limited. Therefore, we propose a conceptual assessment scheme to close this gap. This assessment scheme encompasses distinct analytical steps: modelling (a) the process intensity, (b) the impact on the element at risk exposed and (c) the physical response of the building envelope. Furthermore, these results provide the input data for the subsequent damage evaluation and economic damage valuation. This dynamic assessment supports all relevant planning activities with respect to a minimisation of losses, and can be implemented in the operational risk assessment procedure.