This paper investigates the behaviour of masonry load-bearing walls subjected to differential vertical load. A new approach for evaluating the interaction of intersecting walls is used, focusing on the mechanism of load transfer and the resulting shear stresses. The study is carried out using finite element modelling. Previous full-scale tests are used to verify the features of the numerical model. Once confirmed, the model is then used to study the phenomenon, varying parameters such as the number of floors and the dimensions of the walls. It is shown that the distance down the wall at which homogenization of the applied loads occurs can be predicted by application of the Saint Venant's Principle. The distribution of shear stresses along the interface can be simulated by a simple parabolic distribution. A simple design procedure is proposed, allowing more realistic, cost-effective designs of load-bearing masonry structures.
Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering Vol. 32, Issue 4, p. 601-614