Friday, May 6, 2011

Structural Design

Modern concepts in home making now exhibit the requirement for large uninterrupted spaces. That is where the choice of structural system has its role. Modern day buildings have seen the expression of the structural elements as a bold statement rather than just concealing them inside the walls. The column shape can be rectangular, circular or geometric or a combination of these. But it has to be planned and executed right at the foundation stage. The beams and pergolas also add to the drama. Choosing the right colours to highlight the elements should be given due care

The structural systems can be of two main types — a load bearing wall structure and the skeleton system or column and beam structure .Both of these systems can coexist in a single structure. The choice also depends on the style of the building decided by the architect and is dependent on the following factors:

In a load-bearing wall that protects or creates the room structure, the walls themselves act as the structural members, transferring the load of the floor slabs and walls above, along with the other load to the foundation. Since the walls act as the structural members, all the main walls have to be aligned one above the other, for proper load distribution. This structural system would be preferred where there is a cost constraint and also the soil is a good sandy one.

In a skeletal structural system or a column structure, the load is transferred only through the column and beam. The walls in between have no structural importance. and only act as weather shields and space dividers.

A column structure would be preferred in large span spaces and bad clayey soil conditions. Also in cases where additions and alterations have to be done to the existing building, a column structure ensures minimum settling and easier foundation work. The flexibility of column beam structure not only allows for minimum area of walls to be constructed, but also large glazing that could be accommodated.

In special cases where the cost is a constraint but structural requirement like a cantilevered slab have to be provided, a combination of a load-bearing wall structure and a column structure can be tried. Both the load bearing wall structure and the column beam structure can be designed for earthquake resistance but the detailing has to be properly handled. A structural consultant has to be appointed for the same.

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