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The main objective of a building is to support live loads. In the majority of cases, the dead load of a particular building can be hefty enough. The ratio of a structure’s dead load to its live load determines how lightweight the building is. The smaller this ratio gets, the lighter the building is. The structures in lightweight architecture are relatively simpler. Since the availability of materials depends on the region, the rules and principles of lightweight architecture also change from place to place.
A suspension bridge with tensioned cables is way lighter than a truss, and a truss is lighter than a box girder bridge that is constructed out of concrete. Lightweight structures can be hampered because of differences in temperature, high wind loads, and snow, but they can handle earthquakes. Lightweight structures often induce high labor costs and impulsive use of natural resources. Along with the construction of lightweight architecture, one also has to consider the different types of ways for lightweight architecture elements to be reused, repaired, or even recycling of some or all parts of a particular structure.
Lightweight structures are beneficial to our society in terms of ecological, social, and cultural perspectives. The lightweight architecture ensures less wastage of materials. It is possible to dismantle these structures and recycle them. These structures require detailed manufacturing and assembly, thus increasing employment. Lightweight architectural structures contribute to setting up the architectural context of a particular place. As compared to heavy, bulky structures, lightweight structures have less visual weight, giving more pleasing perceptions.
Components of Lightweight Architecture
Cable, membranes, shells, and folded structures and space grids, braced vaults and domes, arches, and trussed systems are some components of the lightweight architecture. The materials used for the membranes can either be PTFE-coated glass or PVC-coated polyester fabrics. These structures can be used for long-span roofs for stadiums and exhibition structures, entrance structures, environmental protection canopies, as well as shopping malls with a covered roof. Lightweight structures successfully carry the loads irrespective of the shape and size of the structures.
Usually, the self-weight of lightweight structures is pretty less. These structures are a result of a combination of advanced construction technologies and lightweight and high-strength construction materials. For doubly curved or other innovative shapes, the surfaces are pre-stressed. These require cutting patterns that are exclusive and intense care during the assembly of the structure. They have a quite visually appealing look and modern charisma.
Graphene is said to be one of the strongest materials in the world. Researchers found that 3D graphene is stronger than 2D. They also found a way to turn the 2D graphene into 3D graphene by designing a new material that had sponge-like characteristics. It is 10 times as strong and contains a 5% density of steel. With a density of 0.9 grams per cubic centimeter, metallic microlattice is the planet’s lightest of all structural materials. It is produced with nickel phosphorous tubes and is used mainly for automotive and aeronautical purposes.
Carbyne is an exotic form of carbon that was synthesized in 2016. This material is said to be stronger than graphene. This is considered the strongest of all the materials and is twice as strong as carbon nanotubes. Aerographite is said to be the lightest material. It is lighter than Styrofoam, has a density of 180 grams per cubic meter, and can be made into diverse shapes and sizes.
Lightweight House Construction
Lightweight house construction uses different construction methods as compared to traditional building methods. The quality of the house is ensured and the house is made to fit in as per the regulations of the building code. Lightweight architecture is an unusual approach to building construction. The materials are self-designable and are a combination of different substances, such as fibers, metals, polymers, woodchips, and clay particles. Avoiding molds and frames allows the building to adapt to different environments on its own. Principles of physics concerning the lightness of a particular structure help in the determination of certain design decisions.
The site context here includes climatic conditions of the site and gravitational forces. Material composition is the very first step in defining the structure. Along with living loads, wind load, and gravitational forces to consider, acoustics, climatic conditions, fire hazards, vibrations, etc. are also taken into consideration to constructing a house with lightweight architecture. Minimization of energy consumption is ensured while construction of these houses. These principles may give rise to innovative design solutions. Proofing against vibration depends on how rigid the materials are and the fixing between them.
As opposed to the common belief that acoustic insulation and visual mass go hand in hand, considering its capacity to prevent the passage of sound. This technique does work, but disabling the structures that transfer sounds is a more effective technique. Thermal comfort in such houses involves ventilation and insulation of the spaces. The energy consumption, heat transfer, humidity, etc. are considered while material selection. Materials like glass or plastic are used to direct the sunlight in the directions desired by the designer as well as the user.
Certain parts of the building may be mass-produced. The entire construction process for lightweight architecture requires fewer efforts as compared to traditional bulky architecture. The use of molds for certain shapes might be avoided to let the materials take shape naturally as per the natural site context and circumstances. At all points, integration of materials is encouraged wherever possible. For example, the frames used for the construction of walls can be integrated to avoid double frames for wall construction.
Advantage of Lightweight Architecture
Lightweight architecture helps in reducing the cost of transportation required for materials. This gives rise to an increase in the construction of speed. Structures constructed as a result of lightweight architecture are more convenient and flexible to use. The rooms in such kind of architecture are lightweight simple products that can easily be bought ready-made in a store instead of bulky construction.
The adaptability of the structure in terms of functionality is a major benefit of lightweight architecture. It takes minimum effort to change the places and rooms with no obligation of using a particular space for a particular chore. It is easier for people to make adjustments on their own by opening up roofs and facades. Services such as water supply, drainage, electricity, etc. are easily changed.