Concrete

Inadvertent Structural Action

The title of this post is recycled from a talk I gave 16 years ago, “Inadvertent Structural Action in Traditional Buildings; or Why Hasn’t That Fallen Down Yet?” That talk was about how buildings that were constructed without structural design are often stronger than we think they are. The picture above is not that, but …

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Learning From The Small Scale

I was going to name this post “how engineers learn” but (a) I’ve used a variation on that before and (b) I thought of about a dozen bad jokes in the first minute after that title came to mind. So, no. The picture above shows the southwest corner of the roof of that building from …

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Concrete, Part 4

I’ve said that different materials lend themselves to different forms, and that there is such a thing as a concrete-inflected structural type. That idea leads, unfortunately, to a discussion of the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa last August. The bridge had a number fo different components (click on the picture above to expand it) …

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Concrete, Part 3

Concrete has become something of a scapegoat for carbon emissions in building, but it’s amazingly difficult to pin down how bad it is, as a material, compared with other options. The problem, simply, is that it is difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons of efficiency and carbon use across different structural systems. Let’s start with weight. …

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Concrete, Part 2

The first article I read in the Guardian’s Concrete Week series was last Monday’s piece “Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth.” It’s an odd piece in terms of its organization, jumping around a bit. Eventually I realized that the problem I was having is that the article is discussing several quite different topics, linked …

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