Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Reasons to use spun concrete in architecture

Fluctuations in the price of steel have been a persistent concern in architecture ever since steel became a key construction material in the 19th century. The Financial Times released a forecast on the 23rd January 2011 that the price of steel was set to rise 66% with a peak in the second quarter of 2012, predicted to be the largest peek since records began. In October of 2011, Peter Marsh, the same analyst from the January report, wrote that as a result of the eurozone crises, reduction in China’s growth and a general nervousness about the global market, the price of steel is set to decline by 8%. The latest financial times report by Jack Farchry focused on the difference of steel prices in the US and Europe and it emphasised its unpredictability and the large impact steel can have in industry in both economies.

These set of reports prove that the variance in the price of steel is common and over a 12 month period its price can vary by up to $128 per tonne. The majority of modern buildings use large amounts of steel in their construction through steel frames, reinforcement in concrete and composite flooring systems. The period of a construction project is not likely to be much shorter than 12 months, during which the unpredictable price of steel can cause large variations in overall cost of the project. The reduction of steel in a building can be accomplished by using spun concrete columns, fibre reinforced concrete, the use of pre stressed concrete and ultra high performance concrete (UHPC). All of which will be integrated into the design proposal for the applied design and research in the designed environment project which a large emphasis placed on spun concrete. 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Lufthansa Aviation Center

As part of our applied design and research for the designed environment project I have chosen Lufthansa aviation centre as contemporary case study for detailed analysis. Following on from my previous post on spun concrete the Lufthansa aviation centre in  Frankfurt provides a recent example of spun concrete columns with impressive load bearing capacity. 

The building was designed by Christoph Ingenhoven and is located in the prime location where the intersection of the ICE high speed rail link and two highways meet Frankfurt airport. This beneficial location presented many challenges for the design because of the high noise levels. The offices were designed around a internal street scape with enclosed gardens to regulate environmental factors and to create a clean space free from road and rail omissions. 

What drew me to this case study was its use of spun concrete and 280mm long span concrete roof structure. In  the last 20 years architects and engineers have moved away from long span concrete roofs and have replaced them with either steel or composite structures. My project is going to emphasise whether there will be a shift back to long span concrete roofs with the introduction of new technologies such as fibre reinforced concrete and spun concrete columns. When the project is completed I will upload the findings in the conclusion. 

To expand on this post I'm just going to throw in a short photoshop tutorial that has been passed on to me to improve the photo for this blog and to make it a little more personal:

Open any image that you want to work on.

Choose the elliptical marquee tool (top left corner toolbar) and set the feathering to about 20pixels  (top toolbar)

Now go to SELECT and choose Inverse. Click onInverse and watch what happens on the screen - your selection is reversed or inverted.

Check the background colour is white or whatever colour you require (3rd tool from the bottom of left hand toolbar)

Now go to EDIT and click clear. Hey presto, job done!

Save your changes and rename for future use.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Spun Concrete

My fascination with concrete is continuing with a new discovery of spun concrete. These construction elements hold such a large density they almost have the same characteristics as steel. The concrete is placed into steel form and spun at 900rpm to consolidate the mix and create the extensive load bearing capacity. This discovery of mine is more related to structural engineering in a way but it poses the many architectural questions such as if concrete should be reconsidered for long span structures. Furthermore, the price of steel is set to rise 66% and will drive the need for improved concrete structures over steel. Below are some photos of the potential of spun concrete columns and beams.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sixteen Makers

As part of the RIBA smart materials lecture series Bob Sheil from the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL presented on how sixteen makers interprets architecture. Sixteen makers were a group of students, now architects and lectures, from the Bartlett who believed that inventing, learning and good collaboration should be at the forefront of design. Mr Sheil's idea of smart materials was not the material itself but how the material is approached and interpreted is what makes it smart.

From my experience of civil engineering a lot of time is spent making detailed as builds and drawing up site surveys. The short video at the end of his presentation displayed the effectivness of using a laser scanner to create a scene and this is something I need to explore further during my year at NTU. Even though it was a lecture on smart materials this animation was the highlight of the lecture series for me.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Sunken Bridge

This bridge was designed by RO&AD architects and is a excellent exploration of how to closely interact with this water feature.

Pacific Place

The wave like characteristics of Pacific Place caught my attention during my daily browsing of architectural blog's. The vast use of limestone in the development has given a high quality finish that is one of the best I have seen in renovated shopping centres. There is over 3600sqm of limestone in the centre which is accompanied by other materials to add a sense of depth to otherwise flat surfaces. 

The ceiling flows in much the same way as the Thailand Hilton Hotel mentioned earlier in the blog and these sort of flowing structures are amongst my favourite. 

All photos taken from www.denzeen.com