Steel Building, Structural Materials in Architecture, Architectural Design
Why You Should Build With Steel
Design Discussion – article by Bhushan Avsatthi
25 Nov 2014
Why You Should Build With Steel
10 Reasons Why You Should Build With Steel
Ever since the first skyscraper ‘home insurance building in Chicago’ was built, popularity of steel as a structurally strong material increased manifolds across the AEC industry. While earlier cast iron, concrete etc was used in buildings, the new age buildings started getting made in reinforced concrete, i.e. steel beams set in concrete. This allowed framing tall buildings, most importantly skyscrapers that were structurally stable, were better built and fire resistant. Since then steel has become one on the best building material for construction business.
Building with Steel
- Steel imparts structural stability and hence results in robust and strong buildings. The material is malleable and light weight as a result it allows architects with a wider scope to explore designs and develop unique buildings. Sleek finish and an ability to bend in order to form facades, arches and domes is its USP.Structural Steel Detailing and Fabrication to the most exacting specification is another factor that enables creation of the most beautiful and clean designs for buildings. Steel seems to be the future of urban homes.
- High precision prefabricated steel structures and Steel components can be quickly and efficiently installed / assembled on site. This makes it possible to complete the structural steelwork for a construction project in record time and in an efficient manner. Steel being strong and lightweight material, its foundation design is simple as compared to other materials like concrete. As a result the amount of excavation required for a standard steel structure is also less.
- Across a building lifecycles, the spatial requirement might keep changing. In such circumstances, a steel structure is highly adaptable and accessible. Several components such as beams and girders can be relocated, reinforced and also be supplemented with additional framing, so that they support the changed loading conditions.
- Steel can create large internal space, without the requirement of too many columns, this makes it easy to customize and design places as required.
- Steel is easily the best choice for sustainable building design, it is endlessly recyclable. After demolition, all the steel can be collected and repurposed. Nearly 50% of total new steel production in the world today, is actually recycled steel.
- There are several new building material discovered, and some of them have become really popular, however there is hardly any material that can compete with steel. In addition to being highly strong and structurally stable material steel is also fire resistant.
- Building design for occupant safety and maximum security can be achieved by incorporating steel structures. Steel is flexible and ductile, several beam to column connection in a steel building are designed to support gravity loads. As a result, these connections play an important role in increasing the resistance of a building against earthquakes, making it earthquake proof.
- When these buildings are finished with infill walls, external claddings, flooring and paint finish, they look exactly like the concrete structures and only an expert can tell the difference. The only visible difference to a layman’s eye is the quality of finish, the clean look and the aesthetic appeal.
- Another advantage of steel buildings over brick walls is that steel walls impart greater strength; however the walls need not be as thick or bulky. Thinner and smaller structural elements are achievable and they help avail maximum interior space. Hence spatial challenges can be easily overcome.
- Steel structures are lighter and easier to move around. This saves a lot of expenses on transportation. As we discussed before, steel leaves no waste material on site, and can be recycled repeatedly and endlessly. A steel building is energy efficient as heating and cooling the rooms is easy.
Alternative building materials
Materials like engineered timber and metal composites are increasingly being used in new construction projects. Engineered timber is highly popular amongst design enthusiasts, and it is definitely a better material on many fronts, however the main drawback that is keeping this material from replacing steel as the most used building material is the high risk of fire hazards. Besides timber needs to be engineered to make it highly durable and termite resistant, this means a lot of investment.
Another popular alternative, i.e. the composite materials like fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) and other metal alloys have gained traction as a favorable alternative to steel. Composites are durable and repairing them is easy and less costly as it involves less heavy equipments. However, the flip side is that, producing composites is a costly affair and this directly influences the cost of erecting a building.
When all these benefits are weighed against the few downsides, and when compared with other alternatives, steel undeniably emerges as the best building material. Steel Detailing Using Tekla and other such software tools helps introduce high efficiency to steel production and erect better buildings.
Bhushan Avsatthi is a senior manager, consultant, BIM expert and a green building advisor with more than 15 years of industry experience. Bhushan imbibes the prophecy of efficient and prudent use of energy in his day to day life and advices his team to do so as well. He is also involved in green initiatives like nonprofit tree plantation project and promotes using cycles for commuting small distances. Bhushan, handles a team of architects, Structural and MEP engineers, LEED consultants and Energy modeling experts.
Why You Should Build With Steel image / information from Bhushan Avsatthi
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Sustainable Building Design : article by Trevor Tucker. 18 Aug 2009
photograph courtesy of Toyo Ito & Associates
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