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General elements

The building fabric 1 can be seen as the means by which the natural or external environment may be modified to produce a satisfactory internal environment and for this reason it has been called the environmental envelope. In fulfilling this function the building and its parts must satisfy certain requirements related to the environmental factors on which the design of the spaces within it is based. These functional requirements are the provision of adequate weather resistance, thermal insulation, sound insulation, light and air.

Functional requirements of the building fabric

In the context of building, fabrication means the making of the component parts of the building from smaller units, such as framing up a window, and assembly means the erection or putting together of this components to form the total building.

In addition the building is submitted to the action of different external forces (ex. gravitational force, earthquake, wind). Against these actions adequate strength and stability must be provided together with adequate fire protection for the occupants, the contents and the elements of the building. The importance of any of these requirements will vary with the particular part of the building and with its primary function. The building fabric must be of such a nature that it can withstand safely all the forces to which the building will be subject to in use. In other words it must be developed as a structure, a fabrication, which for practical proposes does not move in any appreciable manner under its loads. To resist safely all these forces mentioned above the buildings same to any being in the nature must respect a general principle of the mechanics, the structural principle . This is defined as the energy principles in structural mechanics and expresses the relationships between stresses, strains or deformations, displacements, material properties, and external effects in the form of energy or work done by internal and external forces. For more accuracy let see what does "Structurae " mean? It's the plural of "strctra", a Latin word which translates as: 1. construction, building (action or method of building); 2. construction, building (result of that action); 3. structure, organization; 4. arrangement, order (of words in a sentence) (According to the Latin French Dictionary) Referring to the structure of a building we usually mean the loadbearing elements that support all the loads acting on the building and transmit them to the foundation ground. The buildings are made of elements with are active in the process of providing strength and stability of the building and passive elements with other functions in the use of the building. Along the building industry development process, is obvious the tendency to separate the active substance resistance structure from the passive substance of the building. In these circumstances, the major challenge of the structural principle is to design buildings with a small amount of active substance, as it is possible, that works in any point (section) to the maximal strength capacity of the material.

The structure of a building consists mainly of two substructures: a) the part situated under the 0,00 level of the building, which is usually under the ground level (foundation, underground walls, basement). b) the part of the building situated over the 0,00 level (walls, columns, floors, beams ea.) which rises up from the natural ground surface. The 0,00 level of the building is, established by convention, the level of the ground floor finishing inside the building. Looking to the main component elements of the building it is evident that there have to fulfill in different proportion the five main functional requirements for buildings. Functional requirements of elements of the building
Element Strength & stability Weather resistance Fire resistance Thermal insulation Sound insulation

External walls Loadbearing Non-loadbearing Internal walls Loadbearing Non-loadbearing Frame Floor Ground Upper Stairs Roof
usually a critical factor

x x x x x x

x x x x x

x x x x x x

usually a important factor x not usually a important factor

1.1.1 Structures classification

Although buildings vary widely in form and appearance, throughout the history their structure developed from three basic concepts of structure. These are known as solid, skeletal and surface structure. Solid structure

In this form of structure the walls act both as enclosing (inchidere, anvelopa) and supporting elements. It falls, therefore, within the category of loadbearing wall structures, implying a structure in which all the loads are transferred to the soil through the walls. The characteristic of this particular form is a wall of substantial thickness due to the nature of the walling materials and the manner in which they are used, such as in masonry and mass concrete work.

Cross wall structure (structura tip fagure) Eskimo igloo

Cellular structure

Transfer of the loads

Nowadays this is still a valid type of construction for both high-and low-rise buildings, if these are of limited span, permitting types of floor structure that determine an even distribution of the loads on the wall. This type of structure is economical when it is applied for multi-storey blocks, in region of ten storey, with similar planes that permits the use of large precasted reinforced concrete panel elements. The disadvantage of this type of structure is the rigidity of space distribution in plane, because the majority of dividing walls are also loadbearing they dont support modification without affecting the load distribution on the whole structure.

Skeletal structure (stucturi pe cadre)

As the term implies, this consists essentially of a skeleton or framework which supports all the loads and resists all the forces acting on the building and through which the loads are transferred to the soil on which the building rests.

Transfer of loads

Simple examples are the North American Indian and mid-European wigwams in which a framework of branches supports a skin or treebark enclosing membrane. This elementary forms has developed throughout the history into frameworks which consists essentially of pairs of uprights supporting some form of spanning members to form the volume of the building. In these frames the vertical supports are compressed.

Shed frame Wigwam

Rigid frame

Building frame

Suspension structure Skeletal structures in which the floors are suspended from the top of the building by vertical supports tensioned are generally called suspended or suspension structures.

By its nature the skeleton frame cannot enclose the space within it act as an environmental envelope and therefore other, enclosing elements must be associated with it. The advantage of this separation between the supporting elements and the enclosing elements is that the latter can be made relatively light and thin, and they are not fixed in their position relative to the skeleton frame - they may be placed outside or inside the frame or may fit into the panels of the frame.

Other forms of skeletal structure are the frameworks or lattices of interconnected members known as grid structures.

Grid structure

The use of beam and column framing with load-bearing concrete walls in the same structure is logical when the latter can fulfill an enclosing as well as structural function, and it is often adopted to provide or assist in the resistance to wind pressure or earthquake action. Core structure Lift shafts and stairs wells in tall buildings are commonly formed of reinforced concrete, producing a stiff annular core or cores for the full height of the structure, and these may be used to provide to provide lateral resistance to lateral actions (the floors, transmit the horizontal loads to the core). Surface structure Surface structure fall into two broad groups. I) Those in which the elements are made of thin plates of solid materials which are given the necessary stiffness by being curved or bent. A Zulu woven (impletitura) branch and mud hut (coliba) and modern concrete shell and folded slab structures are typical.

Zulu hut Shell dome

Shell vault Folded or bent slab In this type of structure the walls and the roof may also act as both enclosing and supporting structure but the manner in which particular materials are used results in quite thin wall and roof elements. II) Those in which the elements consist of very thin and flexible sheet membranes suspended or stretched (tensioned) over supporting members. This elements are used for roofs and are known as tension structures.

Bedouin tent

Suspension roof An example is the traditional Bedouin tent (cort) of which inspired the architect Frei Otto in roofing temporary exhibition buildings at Montreal in 1967 and in 1972 the Olimpic stadium from Mnchen. Another example in this group, using compressed air as supporting medium for similar types of membranes, dispenses with compression members over which, in tent form, the membrane is stretched. In this form the membrane is fixed and sealed at ground level and is tensioned into shape and supported by air pumped into the interior and maintained under slight pressure.

Air supported structures

As an alternative, inflated tubes which form supporting ribs for the membrane stretched between them may be incorporated. These are cooled, air-stabilized or pneumatic structures. The structural type and form of the building is the result of a complex process which involves different aspects. a) The destination of the building and the activities which take place inside it determine the size, the shape and the space distribution. For block of flats there are two shapes : 1 Long building with two, three or four apartments at each floor, served by a staircase placed inside the building. Some of buildings of this type, for instance some hotels require long inside corridors.

2. Tower form (turn) b) The site where the building is to be erected has an influence mostly on the basement of the building, through the nature of soil and the seismic degree of the site. c) The materials and the manner in which these are combined determine also the structural form. d) The technology and the organizational devices used for economical reasons are other important factors.

1.1.2 Functional requirements

The main are : a. strength and stability, b. fire resistance, c. durability, economic aspects d.



The loadbearing walls, known also as diaphragms or shear walls are enclosing and dividing the space and they also undergo loads from other elements (floors, roofs, stairs), from stored materials or objects within the

building, or loads due to wind action, earthquake, temperature differences etc. They are the vertical supporting elements of the building. The diaphragms offer high strength and rigidity when compression and bending stresses act in the wall plane, but they have low capacity for tensile and bending stresses acting across (incovoiere transversala). There are two main types of structures of diaphragm walls used for high-rise buildings : . structures with cross loadbearing walls (or honeycomb structures) at (4~6 m ) and regular intervals running at right angles to the length of the building. cellular structures presenting a bigger distance between the structural walls (8~11 m). The walls are disposed on both axes of the building so that some form a cellular pattern in plan enclosing usually a functional unit (apartment, class room, office ea.). The space inside the cell is divided by non-loadbearing walls.

The structures with loadbearing walls have a great rigidity and a good behavior under seismic actions. Also because of this rigidity buildings with 5 to 40 floors can be constructed in favorable technical and economical conditions.

1.2.1 Structures of solid masonry walls

This kind of structure is an old-established structural system used for different types of civil buildings due to some advantage of masonry walls as: can provide good comfort conditions ( reasonable thermal insulation, good sound insulation, reduced mistuning hazard); simple technology of execution; compliable to various architectural layouts.

In Romania the masonry structures are used for buildings with a maximum five floors in accordance with physical and mechanical properties of the component materials and the seismic degree of the site. As materials, clay blocks or concrete blocks are used. Regarding the way the diaphragms are disposed in the building plane, there are three main structural groups:

a) Structures with cross internal walls. The maximum span is 5 m, the 2 surface enclosed by loadbearing walls is less than 25 m , and the floor can be 3 m high. This kind of structure offer great rigidity on the short side of the building.

b) Structures with internal and external loadbearing walls disposed on the long side of the building. The span is greater, 5~9 m, and the 2 surfaces limited by structural walls can bee between 70~80 m . The floor slab lie on internal and external loadbearing walls disposed along the long side of the building and every 8~14 m along these walls there are cross/transversal structural walls which provide the necessary structural rigidity. This kind of walls offer better possibilities to modify the space distribution inside the building, if is necessary, but the structure is less rigid to horizontal actions than the previous type.

c) Structures with internal and external loadbearing walls disposed along both axes of the structure. The surface limited by structural walls is 2 25~30 m and the floors spaced at 3 m. The floor slab lay on all its four sides on structural walls. This structure has good rigidity at seismic actions but also the space inside is strictly divided.

d) Hall buildings consisting of a room of great span, 9~18 m, whose height is greater than 4m. All the walls are loadbearing and sometimes there are reinforced concrete cores or columns inside the wall structure. The floors are made of large precast or prestressed reinforced concrete elements. Some basic rules concerning seismic design In case of structures with loadbearing masonry walls, the diaphragms must be disposed in such a manner that they should provide structural rigidity along both main axes of the building. This walls must work together with the floor slabs as a spatial box. The shape (in plane) is recommended to be rectangular or symmetrical along the main axes of the building. The buildings with irregular forms ( U, L, T, ea.) or with parts of various highs or rigidities will be divided by seismic joints in rectangular parts. The length of the building will be limited by expansion joints situated every 30~60 m, in accordance with the degree of seismic protection. The height of the building will be also limited to the figures given in the following table :
Structural type Honey comb Cellular structures Hall buildings The maximum high (in m) and the number of levels in concordance with the seismic degree of the site : 6 7 8 9 H 15 15 12 9 N 5 5 4 3 H 15 12 10 7 N 4 3 3 2 H 12 10 8 -

It is recommended that the loadbearing walls be continuous in plane and over the whole height of the building, if possible. The floor slabs must be stiff in their plane to act as horizontal diaphragms, in order to provide stability and to work jointly with the walls at vertical and horizontal actions. In order to have a good a capacity of resisting the horizontal actions (seismic etc), the distance between the bracing walls is limited. This distance must permit the floor slab to act as horizontal diaphragm and its value is determined from the degree of seismic protection, the number of floors of the building, the materials and the constructive solution of the floor slab :

Floor slab type

Monolithic reinforced concrete slab Great precast slabs with bonding stirrups (bucle) and cast in situ concrete Precast concrete strips with bonding stirrups (bucle) and cast in situ concrete Precast concrete strips Precast concrete beams and fill in blocks or plates

Max. height of the building (m) 4 9 12 15

Number of levels 1 2; 3 3; 4 4; 5

The maximum distance (in m) for the seismic degree : 6 7 8 9 14 12 10 8 12 12 10 6 12 10 8 12 10 -

4 9 12 15 4 9 12 15

1 2; 3 3; 4 4; 5 1 2; 3 3; 4 4; 5

12 10 10 10 8 8 6 6

10 10 8 8 6 6 -

8 6 - The loadbearing structural elements

The minimal thickness of the loadbearing walls, resulting from conditions of strength and stability is one block (~24 cm) for internal walls. This thickness is also required by sound insulation conditions. For the external loadbearing wall, the thickness is imposed practically by conditions of thermal insulation. Usually a supplementary layer of thermal insulating materials, such as aerated concrete, polystyrene or mineral wool, is required The openings of the wall (for windows or doors) must be disposed regularly along the building and if possible symmetrically to the building axes. The distance from the wall edge to the first opening must be 1 ~ 1.5 m and the distance between two consecutive openings must be at least 0.75 ~ 1.00 m.

1.2.2 Structures with loadbearing walls of aerated concrete Masonry walls of aerated concrete blocks

The masonry work of aerated concrete blocks (B.C.A.) for loadbearing walls is used in buildings consisting of a ground floor and no more than

an upper floor, each no more than 3 m high and with a span no more than 6 m. These blocks of aerated concrete can be used instead of clay bricks at the two upper floors (from the top) of buildings with less than five floors. Where the seismic degree of protection required is 8, the buildings must have rigid floor slabs of monolithic reinforced concrete. The minimal thickness of the wall is 25 cm, the mark of the concrete blocks is B50 and in buildings consisting only of the ground floor it is B35. In order to achieve the necessary strength and rigidity the following constructive solutions are recommended: - the structure must have cross loadbearing walls ; - longitudinal walls, which have to provide longitudinal bracing and ensure overall stability, must be spaced at 5 ~ 10 m. - the distance between two consecutive windows openings must be greater than 0.7 ~ 0.9 m. Loadbearing walls of aerated concrete strips

Horizontal or vertical strips of aerated concrete are used for single dwellings, weekend houses with ground or ground plus one floor. The distance between two loadbearing walls is maximum 6 m or less and the floor height is 3 m or less. The minimal thickness of the strips is 15 cm and they are reinforced with two layers of steel mesh reinforcement (one on each side/face), which have to resist the stresses generated during the construction process or by the action of the wind. On each side the strips have a half-rounded grove. When two strips are joined together the groves form a round cavity looking like a tubular column, which is filled with concrete before a reinforcement bar is introduced. At the top the strips are folded together by means of a reinforced concrete corbel.

1.2.3 Loadbearind walls of large precasted panels

The large precast panels are used for structural walls on a large scale because of the advantages they offer : great work efficiency, reduction of time and work needed on site, fewer materials to fabricate them (especially wood for shuttering), the quality of the work can be easier measured / controlled and improved.

The most widely used are plain elements having the same size as the room, which are joined together in a spatial structure. This elements are off-site fabrication elements made in factories or in special places and transported and manipulated on site. The loadbearing structure of these buildings is made of some vertical and horizontal diaphragms (vertical walls and horizontal floor plates) joined together in a spatial system which has to resist stresses from different actions. In our country this type of structures is used for blocks of flats of Ground+4 Floors (G+4F) in places where the seismic activity is less or equal to 8, and of G+10F where the seismic degree is less or equal to 7. For a good behavior under seismic actions the following requirements are to be followed : - The distribution of the loadbearing walls along the main axes of the building must be symmetrical. - The building must have at least three loadbearing walls disposed on/after/along its length (including the external walls). - The structure must present close values of rigidity on both axes of the building. - The loadbearing walls must be continuous over the whole height of the building. - The size of the panels must be designed in correlation with the size of the room they enclose (to have the joints in the corner of the room). - The underground structure of this type of building must be of monolith reinforced concrete (minimum grade Bc10 / mark B150) with steel reinforcement bars placed at least on the top and on the bottom as belts (centuri).

External loadbearing wall panels

In our country sandwich panels in three layers which are used have the same height as the floor, and the length of the adjacent room. In this case the joints consist of two external walls and a floor slab in the case of o horizontal joint and two external walls and an internal one in the case of the vertical joints. The panel structure :

on the internal face of the panel, a 8~12 cm wide, layer of reinforced concrete, (grade Bc20 / mark B250), represents the loadbearing part of the element; a layer of thermal insulating materials as expanded polystyrene, mineral wool (rock wool), cellular (aerated) concrete plates etc. situated in the middle of the sandwich panel. The thickness of this layer results from the environmental design conditions considered for the building and the thermal insulating properties/capacity of the materials used; a protection layer for thermal insulation made of 5~7 cm reinforced concrete, situated on the external face of the wall panel. The joints between the two extreme layers are made of stainless steel ties or of concrete ribs 3~4 cm wide, placed at the sides and openings of the large panels. On the sides of the panels, concrete cells / castellations (alveole), lugs / protrusions (proeminenta) and steel reinforcement loops (urechi) are disposed for joining necessities.

Internal loadbearing walls of large panels

This walls must support the vertical gravitational and horizontal loads and also to divide the space. Usually they are made of reinforced concrete, mark B250~300 (grade Bc20~25 ), 12~14 cm wide for buildings of G+4F, and 16~18 cm for buildings of G+8F. They can also be made of lightweight concrete, grade Bc7.5~10, and 18~20 cm wide. The reinforcement is placed at the center of the section or near the two faces of the panel. The quantity of reinforcement results from design conditions. The reinforcement is made of steel mesh or reinforced bars of OB37, PC52 or PC60. The panel joins The joints between the panels must ensure the continuity of the whole structure and waterproofness against the water actions. The joints can be : - wet joints (using reinforcement bars and cast in situ concrete). - dry joints ( consisting of welded plates) Two joining systems used frequently in our country are:

The joints are disposed over the whole surface of the edges, creating vertical columns between slabs.

Another system with the joints situated at the corner of the panels.