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Lecture 1:

Nature of Buildings
Building Superstructures
Solid Superstructures
Skeleton Superstructures
Surface Superstructures
Advantages of Frame Structures
Classification of Frames
Materials for Building Frames
Function of Buildings
As a shelter / envelope
To meet primary physical needs
Must be well-designed as well as constructed
Building technology and building techniques are interrelated

Functions of building
Enclose space so that the satisfactory internal environment may
be created relative to the purpose and intended function of the
The space within the building must be suitable for the
activities to take place with it
Comfortable, safe, stable
Must be designed in terms of size and shape, and environmental
Building Superstructures
General Definition - portion of a building that is above the

In Malaysian construction refers to the building primary
elements that transfers the building load to the sub-structure

Mainly as the main building structural component
Building Superstructures
Designed to provide:
1 . better use of structural materials (steel, brick, timber, concrete etc)
2. an easier method of construction and erection/expansion
3. reduce cost
4. answer to a particular problem (such as provision of a clear floor area for
a warehouse or a factory)
5. conform with the requirements of the designer (architect) in search of
visual appeal (aesthetic)
6. withstand the forces that the building will carry i.e. does not move in any
manner under loads
Types of Superstructures
3 basic types of superstructure:
i) Solid
ii) Skeleton
iii) Surface

Solid Superstructures
Combines the load-carrying function with space enclosure
The loads are transferred to and spread through the
walls/building frame to give a distributed load on the
The common types of solid structures:
i) cellular/box frame
ii) igloo
iii) cross wall
Solid Superstructures
Box Framed Structures
Load-bearing Walls
Cellular Box Structure
Cross Wall Structure
Load bearing wall
Solid Superstructures
Cellular Box/Frame
the loads are transferred to the walls of the cells,
each wall being rigidly jointed to its neighbor
arrangement where both the internal and external
walls are load-bearing and arranged to form a
cellular system
resulting structure is rigid and stable, suited
applications where large areas are not required or
alteration in layout are unlikely
Solid Superstructures
A generic method of building
construction using a series of division or
party walls which transfer the floor loads
through the building to foundation or
transfer slab level.

The walls are ususlly built at standardised
centres and spacing thus allowing other
elements aslo to be standardised

division or party walls
Solid Superstructures
Load bearing walls
A load-bearing wall (or bearing wall) is
a wall that bears a load resting upon it

Its weight is then transferred directly to the
foundation structure.

The materials most often used to construct
load-bearing walls in large buildings
are concrete, block, or brick.

Depending on the type of building and the
number of stories, load-bearing walls are
gauged to the appropriate thickness to carry
the weight above them.

Skeleton Structures
Comprise of a framework through which the
loads are concentrated and transferred to the
supporting structure or substructure

The strength of the members of the
framework and their connections plays an
important part in the transmission of the
applied loads

Common materials: timber, steel and
Reinforced concrete (RC)
Skeleton Structures
Apex Frame
Rectangular Frame
Truss Frame
Portal Frame
Shed Frame
Grid Frame
Geodesic Frame
Suspension Frame
Skeleton Structures
Apex Frame
Framework of poles is jointed at or near one end to provide the
framework of a conical shape
Apex Frame
Skeleton Structures
Rectangular Frame
A series of uprights and cross-members set up in mutually
perpendicular planes
Provides the framework for support to the floors, walls and roofs
Skeleton Structures
Truss Frame
The truss frame a structure comprising one
or more triangular units

Constructed with straight members whose
ends are connected at joints referred to
as nodes.

External forces and reactions to those forces
are considered to act only at the nodes and
result in forces in the members which are
either tensile or compressive forces.
Skeleton Structures
Portal Frame
Portal frame construction is a method of building
and designing simple structures, primarily
using steel or steel-reinforced precast concrete

Similar to an arch, but consisting of two uprights
rigidly jointed by a horizontal, sloping or curved third

Each frame requires lateral support, usually in the
form of bracing
Skeleton Structures
Shed Frame
Similar to portal
frame, but the third
member is in the
form of a roof truss
Skeleton Structures
Grid Frame (Space Frames)
Used for lightweight roof structure covering large
open floor areas

The frame comprises a series of triangular frames
set out in the form of a grid

The grid may be in the form of one, two or three
layers or of a space grid which comprises a six-
member frame joined to other similar frames
forming a strong rigid framework
Skeleton Structures
Geodesic Frame
Formed in the shape of a dome and comprising a
network of triangular frames in the form of spherical

i.e. portions of a sphere formed by the intersections
of great circles (great circles has a diameter equal to
that of the sphere it is drawn on)

The greater the number of triangles used in the
structure, the less the chance of collapse
Skeleton Structures
Suspension Frame
Used in multi-storey construction, it
comprises a central solid support structure
extending to the full height of the building

At the top of which a rigid horizontal
support structure is cantilevered out over
the plan area of the building
Skeleton Structures
Functional Requirements
The primary function of a skeleton frame is to carry all the loads imposed on the
building, without deforming excessively under load as a whole or in parts

Transfers all these loads to the building sub-structure (foundation)

To meet this function efficiently, it must have adequate design and construction
i) strength and stability - appropriate materials & stiffness of joints
ii) fire resistance - for a period long enough for occupants to escape

Surface Structures
Load carried by the roof and has thin skin
which is:
i. Sufficiently rigid to be self-supporting when
shaped and the shape provides additional
ii. Sufficiently strong but flexible enough to support
load when stretched across a supporting
Surface Structures
Shell dome
Shell barrel vault
Suspension roofs and tents
Air-supported structure
Surface Structures
Shell Dome
Surface Structures
Barrel Vault
Both structures above use
their curved shape to obtain
strength e.g. principle of an
egg, when pressed by fingers
it will not break
Barrel Vault
Surface Structures
Surface Structures
Suspension Roofs & Tents
The membrane stretched over some other skeleton framed
Form a structural component itself
Air-Supported Structures
Advantages of Skeleton
Frame Structure
Advantages over solid & surface structures:
1. Save in floor space
2. Flexible in plan and building operations (because of the
absence of the load bearing walls at any level)
3. Reduction of dead weight
Classification of Frames
The building frames may be classified according to the stiffness or
rigidity of the joints between members (especially in columns and

Non-rigid frame
The nature of the joints is such that the beams are assumed to
be simply supported and the joints are non-rigid

Rigidity in the frame structure as a whole is ensured by the
inclusions of some stiffening elements in the structure, often in
the form of triangulating members bracing (normally in steel
and pre-cast concrete frame)
Classification of Frames
Semi-rigid frame

Where some or all joints
achieved some degree of

Normally used in steel framed
buildings where connection are
of both bolt and weld)

Classification of Frames
3. Fully Rigid Frame
- Where all joints are rigid
- Normally in steel where joints are
welded & conc. frame where
members are cast monolithically
Choice of Structural Materials for
Building Frames
1. Concrete
- Strength varies according to the mix
- Strong in compression weak in tension
- Compressive strength 1/16 of steel
- Tensile strength 1/10 of its compressive strength
- Stiffness is low compared to steel

2. Steel
- Very strong and stiff
- Strong both in compression and tension
- Relatively economical
- Non-combustible; but at 427 C 482 C it will lost strength
Factors that Influence the Choice of Building Frame
Structural Materials
i. Availability of materials and labours
ii. Cost
iii. Speed of erection
iv. Possibility of standardizing the size of structural members
v. Size and nature of site
vi. Fire resistance required