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European Commission >JRC >IPSC >ELSA

European Laboratory for Structural Assessment

The European Laboratory for Structural Assessment (ELSA) Unit is part of the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) located at the Ispra (Italy) Site of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.

The mission of ELSA:

To provide research and contribute to European Standards harmonization in construction, perform vulnerability assessment of buildings and civil infrastructures for risk mitigation and develop appropriate methodologies through integrated use of experimental testing and numerical modelling in Structural Mechanics

The core research activities of ELSA are developed in support of the standardization in construction and construction products, and for assessing the physical vulnerability of critical structures. They have for specific objectives:

  • To identify the co-normative and pre-normative research needs for the development and maintenance of the Eurocodes.
  • To undertake research and promote EU collaborative activities on specific topics involving the ELSA capabilities and expertise.
  • To perform large-scale reference tests resulting from collaborative work.
  • To provide S&T support to the Commission for earthquake disaster prevention and relief.
  • To network with European research laboratories and institutions in the fields of structural mechanics and construction.
  • To provide training for researchers from EU and Candidate Countries.

From a S&T standpoint, the ELSA research team is specialized in the vulnerability assessment of buildings and civil structures for risk mitigation of natural and man-made hazards, such as earthquakes and explosions. A significant part of its work is devoted to experimentation.

The main facility of ELSA is a Reaction Wall unique in Europe by its size and capabilities, allowing tests of structures at full- or nearly full-scale to assess their behaviour when exposed to earthquakes or other forms of cyclic loads. Work related to existing structures includes the development of techniques for their strengthening and/or repair that are validated by means of tests performed on representative models.

Another facility of European dimension at ELSA is a large Hopkinson bar (HopLab) that allows dynamic testing of materials and structures subjected to extreme loads, simulating high strain rates representative of impact and explosion.

The experimental activities at ELSA are complemented by means of advanced numerical modelling and analysis.

ELSA collaborates with a large number of European and international institutions in the field of structural mechanics in the framework of joint competitive projects and collaboration agreements.