The construction of buildings consists of various methods of assembly and manipulation of certain features so that a perfect structure is produced. Building systems, therefore, are the interdependent components that comprise a built facility and are divided into five major categories namely; structural system, envelop system, service system, interior system, and site system (Construction Reinvented, 2010). Examples of elements that make up the systems as given above are columns, walling, plumbing, suspended floor slabs, and landscaping respectively. In order for built facilities to be structurally sound, durable, and of a reasonable aesthetic value, there are established rules known as the building codes that are strictly followed in the construction processes.
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Structural systems are that part of a structure that supports a built facility, carries, and securely transfers the loads to the ground on which it is erected. This occurs below and above the ground level where they are referred to as substructures and superstructures. The structural system plays a very important role in a structural facility and therefore the degree of accuracy is very critical in ensuring that any major risks of failure are kept at bay. Below are examples of components that are critical in construction.
Under substructure, there are different structural systems that are employed depending on the size of the building, type of building, use of the building, bearing capacity of the ground, topography among many other factors that have a significant influence on the use and long-term safety of the structure. These factors are put into consideration to ensure the use of the structure remains safe throughout its useful period by eliminating cases of failures such as settlement, cracks, and structural failure.
The main purpose of footings and foundations is to transfer loads, resist frost action, and direct loads such as lateral and vertical forces. These elements have wide base areas so that they can safely transfer the dead and live loads of a structure to the soil without causing settlement or movement of building or the soil (Footings and foundations, 2003). Where there is frost action during the winter, these elements will effectively prevent the structure from movement and at the same time counteract the lateral loads from winds and so on (Footings and foundations, 2003). For these to be effective, building codes that provide standards for building at different conditions are strictly adhered to. In this case, I cover three elements which are; pad footing, pile foundation, and raft foundation.
Pad footing is used to spread out dead and live loads usually transferred to it by a single column or pier to the soil (Footings and foundations, 2003). Continuous footing is similar to this type of footing with a single exception that pad footing has load transferred to it by a single column or pier which are centrally located on it. Pad footings are usually used in the interior of a building under a column while continuous footings are used at the exterior length of the house. The base is usually square in shape with appropriate depth and dimensions depending on the loading of the structure as shown in appendix 1.
Where the soil is very poor and has an exceptional low bearing capacity, piles are employed in the place of pad footing so as to transfer the loads safely to a better bearing soil. The pile can also be used where the weight of a structure is so enormous to be carried by the normal soil for example in the construction of mega structures. Loads of the structure are carried to a high-grade beam (located at the grade), which is transferred to the piles that transmit the loads to the final bearing mechanism (Footings and foundations, 2003). The two types of piles that are used are the end bearing piles and the friction piles. End bearing piles are those which are driven into the poor quality soil to a point where solid rock or soil with a better bearing capacity is reached beneath the ground level. Friction piles on the other hand are driven into the ground deep enough such that the friction drag existing between the soil and the pile itself is great enough to resist settlement of the structure (Footings and foundations, 2003). Piles are very expensive both due to their long-distance into the ground and the driving machinery which are very expensive to employ. An example of a pile foundation is as shown in appendix 1.
These are classified as columns and may completely be concealed in the ground or may as well be projected right above the level of the ground as it is necessary (Footings and foundations, 2003). Piers may be constructed in two possible ways and still serve the intended purpose. They may be constructed having a base or footing in the ground the same way a pad footing is constructed or the footing may be eliminated and concrete is directly poured into the prepared excavation to form a lump. They are mostly used to provide support systems for exterior wood decks and in erecting porches of buildings and can consist of materials such as wood, steel, or concrete (Footings and foundations, 2003). A detailed example of a pier is shown in appendix 1.
The superstructure of a building consists of a number of structural systems which come as a result of the type, size, and loading of the building among many other factors. They are designed to ensure the sound transfer of loading from the interconnected framework of structural elements such as beams, columns, and walls. This network has the function of ensuring an effective load transfer to the beams, columns, and finally the footings. In this category, I shall discuss the major elements which include concrete block walls, portal frame, concrete floor slabs, beams, and columns.
Load bearing Concrete Block walls
Concrete blocks are used in the construction of structures and can be used to provide adequate strength to the structure. They are usually a brick of a rectangular shape used in the construction of sound structures and are available in different sizes and shapes depending on the engineering applicability and aesthetics. Without the mortar joints, they are usually of a standard size of 440 mm x 215 mm x 100 mm through these changes with the region. Due to their strength properties, they give the built facility the benefits of strength, stability, and durability (Concrete manufacturers association, 2004). A structure should be very stable and therefore must have reasonable resistance to external forces that may cause possible collapse or structural failure (Concrete manufacturers association, 2004). The layout of construction blocks during the process of masonry walls construction, there are specific arrangements that are followed to ensure that the walling does not fail at weak planes. An example of stone arrangement is the normal English bond where the different courses are alternated along the bedding planes. This provides a strong bonding with mortar and is usually accomplished by an experienced designer or the contractor on site. At the lower courses of the ground level walling, dampness is eliminated by providing a damp proof membrane (DPM) along all the walls. The walling is reinforced with hoop irons after every three courses to ensure maximum possible strength is achieved for a sound structure. Details of the walling are as shown in appendix 1.
Reinforced concrete Beams and columns
Beams and columns as structural components are very critical to the strength and stability of a built facility. This is because the total weight of the structure in terms of dead and live loads is transmitted through a network of beams and columns. Reinforcement of beams and columns is done after accurate calculations of the building’s loading to ensure the structure does not fail when it comes into use. Beams are designed in a way such that they can withstand great loads by resisting bending (The Free Encyclopedia, 2009). Columns on the other hand are the vertical structural elements that run from the foundation into the roof space. These carry the loading from the beams and safely transfer to the footings. Due to their size and orientation, they can carry great loads by resisting crushing from the axial loads. A detailed drawing and sections of beams and columns are shown in appendix 1.
Suspended Concrete floor slab
Reinforced concrete slabs in modern buildings are usually reinforced with steel to provide a strong base to support the other systems of the structure such as partitioning walls, and imposed dead and live loads (Concrete manufacturers association, 2004). The structural component is used to transfer these imposed dead and live loads to the beams in a way that is safe throughout its intended useful life. In suspended reinforced concrete slabs, there is tension at the lower end and compression at the upper surfaces of the slab. Since concrete is weak in tension but very strong in compression, the solution is to provide steel reinforcement at the lower surface while minimal reinforcement at the top depending on the span and type of the slab itself.
Different types of slabs are used depending on the structural, acoustical, and usability that should be assumed. Some include flat slabs, ribbed slabs, and waffle slabs. The slab has more uses in high rises buildings where they may act as a ceiling and floor at the same time and therefore, should possess different characteristics and features. For example, as a ceiling to the lower floors, a slab should be designed acoustically to reduce sound echoes which may be achieved by using hollow blocks. Proper finishes should also be used at the top to avoid water absorption, make it fire resistant, and therefore attain good thermal characteristics. Detailed examples of a suspended floor slab are as shown in appendix 1.
Enveloped systems in a built structure have a number of functions from structural importance to aesthetical purposes. The elements in this category may fall under walling, roofing, and fenestrations. Therefore in a built facility, the envelop system takes care of a number of functions such as thermal insulation, acoustics, and weathering among many more relevant functions. It is therefore an essential part of any building and proper values have been put into consideration so as to ensure maximization of the system and its performance. In this journal, I discuss some of the elements of the system in detail such as concrete roofs, wood stud walls, masonry bearing walls, and glass facades.
Concrete roofs are prepared when a strong and durable roofing system is needed which is a common phenomenon in modern buildings. The construction of concrete roofs is similar to that of a suspended slab but it may be produced as a lightweight roof due to the fact that it does not carry heavy loads like in suspended floors (Get Better Results, 2010). Reinforcement of such roofing system is done depending on the size, span, and type of roofing adopted by the contractor. As an example, flat concrete roofs which are the most common types of concrete roofing maybe produce thicker, and therefore more reinforcement may be required. Where pitched roofs are required, the thickness of such roofs can be reduced so that a lightweight roof structure can be produced to increase the ease of construction.
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A concrete roofing system, however, requires that dam proofing is done to ensure no leakages are experienced in the long run. Such leakages are a risk to the concrete structure and can lead to failure of the roofing after continuous infiltration from rainwater. There are benefits associated with concrete roofing systems such as sound insulation, fire resistance, and durability of the roof. This makes it a better way of providing a good cover to modern high-rise buildings as there shall be minimal maintenance practices compared to other roofing types which wear out faster. The diagrams in the appendix 2 provide details of concrete roofing.
A glass façade can be used in a building in various proportions and in such a case a building glass façade is said to exist where there is increased usage of glass material on the built facility. Depending on the type of building, the surface area of glass can vary greatly in relation to the total surface area of the whole external surface area of the facility in question. In buildings, a glass façade is of great importance in a number of ways. This greatly helps in keeping optimal control in the balance of energy and at the same time aiding in the conservation of energy in the atmosphere. This also provides the feeling of comfort due to the classic appearance and quality of the glass façade used in the structure. It is also easy to use glass facades on buildings because they have perfect compatibility and can be effectively used with one another on several built structures. The detailed diagrams of glass facades are as shown in appendix 2.
Wood stud walls
These types of walls are generally used when a larger room should be divided into smaller spaces due to the need for more privacy, security, or divided space. Before the process of partitioning a larger space into a smaller space, various conditions should be investigated to ensure good suggestions are employed. As an example, it is a regulation that rooms should have an opening to the external atmosphere which makes a window an important factor to be considered.
The partition walls are constructed in such a way that functionality will not be compromised and elements like doors and window positions is therefore critical. The vertical studs are fixed to the top head plate and at the bottom to the soleplate. At the center, the studs are nailed onto the horizontal noggins which can be staggered to ease the process of its construction. The spaces are then sealed off by using metal or plywood which are painted to provide a good finishing. Such partition walls are first to set up and have an advantage such that they can be altered now and again to match different requirements. Using these walls the use of a building can therefore be changed or improved in a much faster way and also forms a beautiful appearance for the structure.
Service systems are important in a built facility as these provide the users with very important day-to-day solutions to their needs. A good example is a water system that provides water for drinking, washing, bathing, and sewerage systems. Without some services, a building can be of very limited use and therefore depreciate in importance. Under this category, various elements shall be discussed and these include the air conditioning system, water supply system, and sewage systems.
Central air conditioning system
Buildings require an air conditioning system to be installed for various purposes depending on the size of the building, use of the building, and the location of the building. Buildings that are located in cold areas may require heating or air conditioning systems that heat the building to and maintain the temperature at the standard temperatures. On the other hand, buildings located in hot regions like in the Sahara require the temperature to be cooled down to a certain accepted temperature where the value can then be maintained at a constant. In residential houses, this practice ensures that the occupants are comfortable and therefore maintain a high rate of activity and productivity among them. A centralized air conditioning system is therefore important in such cases as it aids in maintaining the temperature of the building against a temperature gradient between the indoor and the outdoor temperature.
According to the operation of the system of air conditioner shown in appendix 2, warm air is mechanically extracted from the indoor area and expelled from the building. Air is then sucked into the system and passes through the cooling chamber where it is cooled and directed into the house. This continuous repetitive process ensures that the indoor temperature lowers to a certain temperature which is therefore maintained and vice-versa.
In a building, the sewerage system consists of sanitary appliances, connections, manholes, and sewer lines that connect to a septic tank and then to a council’s sewer. This is an equally important service system that requires a lot of water for proper operations to take place. Sanitary appliances include wash hand basins, sinks, showers, water closets, bathtubs, and other appliances which work hand in hand. These are usually fully equipped with essential features, so as to enable complete functionality of the structure. A qualified plumber is therefore responsible for ensuring all plumbing works, fittings, and appliances are correctly fixed and commissioned before the actual use of the building. An example of the system is as shown in appendix 2.
Water supply hot and cold
A building needs to be connected to a clean source of water so that effective use can be available to the users of such a building. Clean water from the council mains is therefore connected to the building to ensure residents get clean and pressurized water. From the mains, the water is directly connected to the kitchen sinks of the structure while a different connection flows to the storage tanks. From the storage tanks, a cold water supply flows to all sanitary appliances in the building except the kitchen sink which has a direct connection from the council mains. Coldwater from storage tanks is also directed to the hot water cylinder where it is heated and serves appliances such as bathtubs, sinks, and showers with hot water. This, therefore, completes the hot and cold water supply system in a building ensuring that all the occupants get maximum utility from the service. A detailed example of the system is shown in appendix 2.
Interior systems are provided in a building for many purposes such as for aesthetic values, insulation purposes, comfort among many other uses that come with different elements. In this category, I shall discuss a few of these elements which include finishes, suspended ceilings, furniture, and lighting. These are very critical elements in a building and people will only settle in buildings after provision of most of the elements.
Suspended ceilings are ceilings that have been provided especially at the last floor level of pitched roofs. The ceiling is usually suspended by suspension wires holding steel runners. The construction of the ceiling consists of steel runners which run horizontally and normally to each other. The steel runners cross to form a square hollow depending on the type of acoustic ceiling board to be used. There are two types of runners which are angle runners used along the walls and t-runners used within the open span area. The runners are suspended onto the rafters and runners of the roof using suspension wires. The hollow spaces are sealed off using the appropriate ceiling chipboards to form a complete suspended ceiling board. This type of ceiling ensures that there is minimal loss of heat or gain of a lot of heat into the built facility. It also provides a good sound insulation property and ensures no echoes are formed due to its acoustic features. Suspended ceilings are light and therefore reduce sharply the total loads of on the structural components of a built facility.
Finishes – tiles and cement-sand screed
Finishes are provided in a built structure to improve the aesthetics, conceal poor workmanship, and increase the value of the facility among many other uses. There are different types of finishes that are used on the walls, general floor areas, kitchen areas, and wet areas depending on the intended use of the building. For a normal floor and wall area, cement sand screed can be used which is a durable and heat resistant finish despite the fact that it is slippery and therefore risky when wet. Ceramic tiles may be used in floor areas that require an improved appearance such as dining and living room areas and wet areas like bathrooms, toilets, and kitchen areas. The advantage of tiles is that they are water-resistant and therefore do not allow soaking and damping by water.
Furniture includes components like beds, sofas, tables, chairs, and other related elements that are used by the occupants to provide comfort. This also helps in filling up the empty and large spaces created by the construction of the building and therefore makes the building owner have a sense of ownership and occupancy. Without furniture in a built facility, there is a reduction in usability by a very great percentage.
Artificial lighting in a building is also a very important element in a built facility keeping in mind that most activities depend on light especially during night hours. Lighting design should be done to ensure correct lighting is achieved. Glare should be minimal as these can cause eye problems in the long run. In deep ends especially in massive buildings where there is inadequate daylight factor, artificial lighting should be increased to ensure maximum activity is reached at all times.
Site systems are provided to ensure that the outside appearance and functionality match that of the structure itself without any failure. Therefore, the outside environment of a building should speak for the whole structure before actual entry to the structure. This means that a good structure starts from its surroundings and not just the built facility alone. In this section, the analysis of site lighting, landscaping, stormwater, paving and perimeter walling is done.
Site lighting and security
The external surrounding of a building should be done perfectly to ensure adequate lighting is available. External lighting is done depending on the type of structure and the location of other buildings. For insecure areas, maximum security lights should be located in strategic locations such that the maximum utility can be attained from it. These lights should be located on the exterior walls, gates, and perimeter walling to ensure maximum security levels are maintained. This can also be booted by providing surveillance cameras so that all movements are monitored on a particular screen in the house.
Landscaping is done around a structure to ensure that the appearance of the external environment around a building is appealing. This is achieved with aid of an experienced architect such as a landscape architect. The external environment is divided into sections that are then used for various purposes such as tree planting areas, grass areas, parking areas, flower beds locations, and fountain locations if that is a requirement in the project. Trees species are identified according to their possible effects on the cool environment or the structure as a whole. As an example, trees that grow to abnormal heights may be planted very far from the main structure as low-lying harmless trees such as coconut trees planted close to the structure. Grass-types such as couch grass may be selected and planted in the lawn area so as to provide a nice grass background. Designs for the parking area are critical such that the cars should move in and out of the compound without causing movement jams both to people and cars.
Storm water drainage
Storm water should be designed to function in a proper manner keeping in mind the type of storm drainage layouts and directions of flow intended for each case. Storm drainage should be provided in open or closed drains depending on the kind of influence they have on the terrain and movement.
The perimeter wall should be should be constructed away from the main structure depending on the expected traffic to the development after completion is achieved. Perimeter walls should be strong enough and an appropriate finishing carried on it.
All the systems of buildings are done according to the specifications in the drawings and in accordance with the building codes. This should therefore meet all the regulations that are used in the building industry for safety and utility purposes.
The building for analysis in this section is situated in Melbourne Australia and is known as Singer building-Building 22. It involves the construction of an additional level to the structure and the creation of accommodation for the development portfolio (Property Services, 2010). In this analysis, I analyze the building under all the categories of building systems that exist by use of the pictures of the structure. The analysis is done using the evidence pictures or assumptions on the systems that are to be used.
This is a massive structure occupying a large area on the ground and therefore requires strong foundations to counteract differential settlement. For this reason, therefore, heavy foundations must have been used to provide structural safety to the intended users and frequenters of the structure. Some of the structural elements that have possibly been used in the substructure include the following discussed below.
Underground columns rising above the ground level to higher grounds which are established on pad footings to help in spreading the massive loading to the subsoil are an important component in such a structure.
Due to the massive floor area to be covered by the structure the most appropriate foundation that may be employed is the raft foundation. This is so because a solid and stable base should be established for the structure to rest upon. This kind of foundation makes it easier for damp proofing the basement floor and wall areas. Adequate reinforcement is essential for the in-situ cast concrete foundation.
Beams and Columns
In building 22, various design factors have been put into consideration considering the massive loading and size of the finished structure. Due to the fact that the structure is enormous and high loads are expected, it should therefore be constructed in such a way as to ensure the loads are safely transferred from one level of the structure to the foundation bases. The structural system of beams and columns should be designed to ensure the efficient and safe transfer of loading down the whole structure. The beams and columns have therefore been designed and positioned in a way that will ensure maximum strength, stability, and safety of the structure is attained during the construction and occupation phase.
According to the photos in the appendix taken from level 3 of the building, the interconnections of beams and columns are provided to ensure the maximization of safety and usability of the structure. Different types of beams have been used to span the spaces in relation to the requirements. Simply supported beams have been used to provide support to small spans while continuous beams have been used in the critical areas and ring beams. Depending on the loading at particular spots, beams of different types, thicknesses, and lengths have been employed (The Free Encyclopedia, 2008). Reinforced concrete beams linked to vertical columns have been used to carry and transfer loading from the higher-level floors and roofing system in a secure way to the footings of the structure.
In-situ cast concrete slab has been used in all upper floor slabs, staircase flights, and landings to provide enough area and support for partitioning and circulation spaces. Reinforced concrete slabs in modern buildings are usually reinforced with steel to provide a strong base to support the other systems of the structure such as partitioning walls, and imposed dead and live loads (Concrete manufacturers association, 2004). The structural component is used to transfer these imposed dead and live loads to the beams in a way that is safe throughout its intended useful life. In suspended reinforced concrete slabs, there is tension at the lower end and compression at the upper surfaces of the slab. Since concrete is weak in tension but very strong in compression, the solution is to provide steel reinforcement at the lower surface while minimal reinforcement at the top depending on the span and type of the slab itself. An adequate concrete cover is also provided according to the building codes regulations. This ensures an effective cover to steel and fire protection. In building 22, this has been considered to ensure a safer structure in case of building fires which may require long periods of evacuation.
Reinforced concrete roofing
A concrete roofing system shall be used on the last level of the structure to ensure the intended purpose I met. This involves the creation of space on the roof of the last level for the provision of facilities. The design is made to ensure maximization of the space and an efficient drainage system used at the last level. This enables quick elimination of rainwater from the roof thereby reducing the increased loading during long and heavy downpours. This characteristic makes it possible to collect and redirect the water to a required destination such as storage tanks or stormwater drainage channels.
The façade at the top level of the structure is composed of the green Penrose motif which gives a perfect appearance from a bird’s eye view position. This cladding, therefore, increases the aesthetics of the structure to match the perfectly designed and decorated interior of the building.
Glazing and partitioning
External partitions have been provided with openings to allow for fixing doors and glazed windows. The walls are painted on both sides to ensure a good appearance is obtained.
Electrical supply system
Electrical lighting in the structure has been provided to boost daylight factor, night lighting, and emergency lighting. As shown in appendix 3, artificial lighting in the building has been effectively provided with standard switches and lighting points. In the circulation spaces as an example, fluorescent tubes provided in louvered casings are mounted at the ceiling height to provide the required artificial at the most appropriate times and conditions. The design and positioning of such lighting points ensure adequate mobility and an equivalent high productivity rate by easing movement within the building. The conduits carrying the cables to the lighting cables are fixed by clips onto the ceiling soffits and help to suspend all the lighting points as is expected. In the staircases, emergency lighting has been installed to aid in movement in cases of emergencies such as power blackouts and fire outbreaks. This is aided by abiding to fire safety rules and evacuation requirements which is evident by the directional lighting point “EXIT” installed at the escape staircase shown in the appendix 3 drawings.
Sewer and stormwater drainage
A separate system of drainage is assumed as the most appropriate method that has been used to eliminate stormwater and other waste from the surrounding and building respectively. The sewer and stormwater pipes are therefore provided beneath the structure to required fall and structural engineers’ requirements. This ensures efficiency and that the system does not fail due to interferences such as excavations.
The sprinkler system
As a safety regulation, the building has been provided with a fire sprinkler system to ensure an effective control to fire cases of fire outbreaks in the structure. The sprinkler system is fixed to a pressurized source of water provided in fire hydrant points which are located in the building structure. This pressurized water flows through the main supply piping that branches to sub-branches connected to the sprinkler heads. When a fire occurs beneath a sprinkler head and rises to a point that exceeds the withhold temperature of the head, it bursts to force out a lot of water. This pressurized water, therefore, extinguishes the fire by eliminating the heat component of the fire. The sprinkler system ensures that the degree of safety in a structure is maintained at a level that is acceptable.
The lighting system used on the structure is extensive and well designed to suit the different functions. Staircase lighting, room spaces, and circulation spaces are effectively designed to match the lighting requirements for maximum utilization. From the diagram, we have a nice linear arrangement of the lighting points which provide an attractive layout of the lighting system. The positioning of the lighting points is also done to ensure efficient lighting of the structure’s spaces.
Circulation spaces are well maintained at realistic widths to ensure easier traffic for maximum utility and functionality of the structure. Different areas are covered in tiles to provide an attractive appearance. Staircases are constructed and strategically positioned to ensure movement from one level to another and within one level is not compromised.
The concrete slab ceiling is covered in a well-finished plaster lining and painted to provide an approved and appealing finish to the interior of the structure. The high-class paint used provides protection to the structure in addition to having an aesthetic influence. Appropriate tiling has been used on the floor areas to provide an attractive appearance and at the same time a durable finish. Due to the durability of tiles as a finishing material, the overall cost of building maintenance is also significantly reduced. Replacements of tiles are minimal and this ensures that the operation costs are kept as low as possible.
The exterior landscaping consists of trees, surrounding buildings, and paving designed specifically for walkways which lead to the interrelated elements of the built structure. The interaction of the built structure and its landscaping provides a significant level of association keeping in mind the aesthetics of the structure.
Building 22 has a good aesthetic appearance internally and externally due to the durable and decorative finishes that have been utilized. The analysis of the structure helped in establishing the usability and efficiency of the structure under different circumstances like emergencies and normal usage. The building can be considered structurally safe and at the same time provides maximum comfort for its purpose as an educational structure.
List of References
Concrete manufacturers association, 2004. Precast concrete slabs on load bearing masonry walls: Good practice guide pg. 1-8. [Pdf] South Africa: Concrete manufacturers association.
Construction Reinvented, 2010. Building Systems.
Footings and foundations, 2003. An overview of footings and foundations pg. 1-16. [Pdf] South Africa.
Get Better Results, 2010. Concrete Forms for Floors, Roofs and Decks. Web.
Property Services, 2010. Building 22 refurbishment: New accommodation for the International and Development Portfolio and an extra level. Web.
The Free Encyclopedia, 2008. Concrete slab. Web.
The Free Encyclopedia, 2009. Beam (Structure). Web.