Types of Structural System

Types of Structural System – Structural system, in building construction, the particular method of assembling and constructing structural elements of a building so that they support and transmit applied loads safely to the ground without exceeding the allowable stresses in the members.

Basic types of systems include bearing-wall, post-and-lintel, frame, membrane, and suspension. They fall into three major categories: low-rise, high-rise, and long-span.

  1. Low Rise
  2. High Rise
  3. Long Span

Systems for long-span buildings (column-free spaces of more than 100 feet, or 30 metres) include tension and compression systems (subject to bending) and funicular systems, which are shaped to experience either pure tension or pure compression.

Bending structures include the girder and two-way grids and slabs. Funicular structures include cable structures, membrane structures, and vaults and domes. See also shell structure.

Structural systems are those elements of construction that are designed to form part of a building’s structure either to support the entire building (or other built asset, such as a bridge or tunnel) or just a part of it. So, a steel frame is a structural system that supports the building and everything on it and in it. A space frame is a structural system that typically supports the roof.

Types Of Structural System

Types of structural system – The term structural system or structural frame in structural engineering refers to the load-resisting sub-system of a building or object. The structural system transfers loads through interconnected elements or members.

  1. Continuous structures
  2. Framed structures
  3. Shell structures
  4. Tensile structures
  5. Membrane structures

Continuous Structures

These comprise continuous supporting walls through which the combined loads and forces in a building are transferred, mainly by direct compression, into the subsoil through the foundations. The timber floors of a traditional brick-built house, for example, provide lateral bracing and prevent potential deflection of the walls. Laying the bricks in a bond pattern (ie with staggered vertical joints) allows compression forces to be evenly distributed throughout the wall volume.

Framed Structures

Timber, reinforced concrete and steel can all be used to create regular frameworks comprising beams and columns. The beams transfer loads from roof, floors and walls to the columns. The columns transfer the beam loads to the sub-soil through the foundations. The dead and imposed loads from roofs or floor slabs will be transferred to the floor beams and then to the structural frame. Compared to a continuous support-type structure of similar weight, a framed structure typically transfers more concentrated loads into the subsoil.

External walls in framed buildings act as infill panels between columns and beams. Because they are non-load bearing (although they carry their own weight and must resist wind forces), they can be of any durable material that fulfils thermal, acoustic, fire and environmental criteria. When positioned on the outside of the frame they form a part of the building envelope and are known as cladding. When they are positioned on a secondary steel framework attached to outside of the main structure so that a ventilation gap is created behind them, they are known as a rainscreen.

The position of the structural frame relative to its cladding will determine the external appearance: cladding panels can be located behind, in front of, or flush with the frame.

Shell Structures

Shell structures are made from structural ‘skins’ where the shell material is thin in section relative to the other dimensions of the roof and undergoes relatively little deformation under load. They are commonly used where a building interior needs to be free from intermediate walls or columns that might support a more conventional flat or pitched roof, such as; libraries, theatres, leisure centres, airport and railway terminals, and so on.

Shell roofs structures be ‘flat’, but are typically curved, assuming a cylindrical, domed, paraboloid or ellipsoid shape. The curvature of shell structures benefits from the same structural efficiency as arches, which are pure compression forms with no tensile stresses. Because of their structural efficiency less material is generally needed compared to more traditional roofs. However, a restraining structure such as an edge beams is required to prevent the shell from ‘spreading’.

Tensile Structures

Conventional structures tend to be stabilised by the action of gravity on their mass holding them in compression. A tensile structure is a structure that is stabilised by tension rather than compression. In practice, structures tend to carry both tension and compression, and it is the degree to which a structure is intentionally tensioned to stabilise it that determines whether it is considered a tensile structure.

A suspension bridge is an example of a tensile structure.

Membrane Structures

Membrane structures (or fabric structures) create spaces that are enclosed by tensioned membranes. At its simplest, a tent may be regarded as a membrane structure given its steel or fibreglass poles support a canvas or plastic membrane covering.

As structures, membranes can be divided into pneumatic structures, tensile membrane structures and cable net membrane structures. In all these, the membrane is rendered taut through tensile forces applied by steel cables (or internal air pressure) which transfer the forces to a structural frame and then to the subsoil. It is through the action of the cables and construction members that the membranes find their form.

In inflatable structures, steel cables and columns are replaced by air which supports a reinforced membrane.

Structural systems are an essential component of building design and engineering. They provide the necessary support and stability to a building and are responsible for distributing loads and forces throughout the structure. There are several types of structural systems, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the most common types of structural systems used in building design.

  1. Framed Structural System : A framed structural system is a type of construction where the building’s structural framework is made up of a series of interconnected beams and columns. This system is commonly used in multi-story buildings and offers flexibility in design and construction. It also allows for the use of a variety of materials such as concrete, steel, or timber.
  2. Truss Structural System : A truss structural system is a type of construction where the building’s framework is made up of a series of interconnected triangles. This system is commonly used in roofs and bridges and provides excellent strength and stability.
  3. Braced Structural System : A braced structural system is a type of construction where diagonal braces are used to provide additional stability to the building’s framework. This system is commonly used in tall buildings and provides resistance to wind and seismic forces.
  4. Shear Wall Structural System : A shear wall structural system is a type of construction where vertical walls are used to provide additional support and stability to a building. This system is commonly used in high-rise buildings and provides resistance to lateral forces such as wind and earthquakes.
  5. Moment-Resisting Structural System : A moment-resisting structural system is a type of construction where the building’s framework is designed to resist bending moments caused by lateral forces. This system is commonly used in earthquake-prone areas and provides excellent resistance to seismic forces.
  6. Cable Structural System : A cable structural system is a type of construction where cables are used to support the building’s framework. This system is commonly used in suspension bridges and offers a lightweight and flexible solution for spanning long distances.

Each of these structural systems has its own unique features and benefits. The choice of which system to use depends on several factors, including the building’s height, location, and purpose, as well as the materials used and construction methods. By understanding the different types of structural systems, architects and engineers can select the most appropriate solution for each project to ensure the safety and stability of the building.

About the Author
Er. Mukesh Kumar
Er. Mukesh Kumar is Editor in Chief and Co-Fonder at ProCivilEngineer.com Civil Engineering Website. Mukesh Kumar is a Bachelor in Civil Engineering From MIT. He has work experience in Highway Construction, Bridge Construction, Railway Steel Girder work, Under box culvert construction, Retaining wall construction. He was a lecturer in a Engineering college for more than 6 years.