Architectural history will record the early years of the 21st century as the beginning of a quantum leap in landmark building design.
According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, some 38 buildings have now reached heights of 300 m or more, meeting the definition of “super tall” structures. The council estimates that a further 76 super tall buildings are currently in construction. For six years, Taiwan’s Taipei 101 Tower was the tallest building in the world at 508 m. In January 2010, it was humbled by the opening of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, at 828 m and consisting of 162 storeys.
While super tall buildings are the most obvious example of previous design records being continuously smashed, this is not the only area of extraordinary innovation. For years, some of the world’s most spectacular long-span roof structures remained among its earliest such as the 73-
What’s driving this sudden explosion of innovation? While architects and engineers have always sought to push the envelope – with “
While new materials have played their part, a major driver is technology. For years traditional structural engineering was constrained by
This new wave of design-enabling technology includes
By building and
Non-linear FEA is far from new. For decades, many industries such as aeronautical, automotive and manufacturing, with a vested interest in avoiding the expense and time involved in testing physical prototypes, have used FEA models, speeding time to market and making better, safer products.
That the construction industry appears to have lagged behind is down to simple economics. The companies that first made use of non-linear FEA techniques
While super-computing remained the prerogative of the super-wealthy, no single building could afford the luxury of testing the unknown. Its architects and engineers were forced to build from past experience, because no safety code would allow the construction of a building design that could not be tested.
But, in the 21st century, dramatic increases in computing power and the development of intuitive interfaces have changed the game, making advanced modelling tools such as non-linear FEA software available to anyone with a PC and allowing the increasingly realistic modelling of innovative structures that simply would not have been built in a previous century.
For example, without computer
Weighing in around 1 500 tonnes, Wembley’s giant yet slim looking arch
The structural implication of this slenderness is a unique level of interaction between the overall buckling of the arch and the local buckling of the individual chords.
To achieve this lightweight yet safe design, extensive nonlinear buckling analyses were needed to consider the
FEA-based design was also used to determine the final thickness of the
In Adelaide’s rapidly changing architectural landscape, the elegant, slender, and lightweight designs of
While advanced structural analysis techniques such as non-linear FEA are potentially very powerful tools for performance based design, there are significant challenges involved in their effective application. This requires high-level skills and knowledge in both structural