Types of Structural Systems: Why are Structural Systems Important in Buildings?

Structural systems

Introduction and Importance of structural systems

Structural systems are the ones factors of creation which can shape a part of a building’s shape both to assist the complete constructing or different constructed assets, including a bridge or tunnel or simply part of it. Any shape is made from structural factors (Beams, Columns, slabs) and Non-structural factors (Doors, Partition Walls, stairs). 

The characteristic of structural factors is to face up to the hundreds performing in that shape and to transmit the ones to the ground. For simplified analysis, structural factors are labeled into One-Dimensional (Beams, Columns, trusses) and Two-Dimensional (Slabs, plates) factors. These structural factors, positioned together, represent structural System. The maximum not unusual place production is building (Residential, Commercial or Institutional). The Structural device and its load switch mechanism for construction is cited right here.

Lateral Load Transfer

Lateral loads, like wind load, seismic load predominate in high-rise buildings and hence govern the structural system.

Lateral Load Resisting system comprises:

Rigid Frame System

rigid frame system
Photo from NorSteel Buildings

A mixture of columns and beams. Beams and columns are solid, monolithically. This is a maximum not unusual place for many of the diverse structural systems. The beam-Column connection is made inflexible and moment-resisting, which facilitates resisting the lateral loads. Hence, they may be additionally referred to as the Moment-Resisting Frames. The lateral stiffness of an inflexible body relies upon the stiffness of the columns, beams, and connections, if any. The lateral deflection is excessive, whilst in comparison with every other lateral load resisting structural system. As the peak of the construction increases, deflection receives increases. It is powerful for homes of 15 to twenty stories.

Shear Wall System

It is one of the simplest and only lateral load resisting systems. Shear wall is a Solid Continuous Vertical Wall that extends over the entire peak of the building. Shear partitions are very stiff and they face up to hundreds via way of means of bending like a vertical cantilever. They have excessive in-aircraft stiffness and strength. Shear partitions are normally Reinforced Concrete Structures. But the latest improvements in Structural Engineering made it workable to have steel, masonry, and additionally Wooden Shear Walls. It is powerful for homes, 35 stories.

shear wall system
Shear Wall

Wall–Frame System

It is a combination of a shear wall and a rigid frame, also called a dual system. This interaction is beneficial because the walls contain the deformation of the frame in the lower floors and the frame contains the deformation of the walls in the upper floor. Deflection is much less than rigid frames and shear walls. It is suitable for 40-50 floors.

Braced Frame System

braced frame system
Photo from Seismic Resilience

This structural device includes second frames with unique bays supplied with diagonal members (normally steel) referred to as the bracings, which in the major face up to the lateral hundreds at the structure. In this type of device, the beams and columns are typically designed to take the vertical hundreds and the bracings are taken into consideration to face up to all the lateral hundreds.

The lateral hundreds are transferred as axial tensile and compressive forces withinside the brace members. Bracings are typically supplied as Vertical bracing (Elevation bracing) throughout the peak of the construction, which in the main resists the lateral hundreds and transfers them to the ground. But bracings will also be supplied withinside the horizontal aircraft additionally called the Plan bracing, which acts because the diaphragm to keep the structure.

Structural System: Photo from InterNACHI

There are various types of bracing used, such as

  • Diagonal bracing
  • Cross (X bracing)
  • V – bracing
  • K–bracing
  • Inverted V – bracing.


This structural gadget includes a crucial shear middle that’s a community of partitions interconnected with every difference in shape, an inflexible box-like shape. Such RCC cores offer more balance to the shape, resisting the lateral masses performing as a vertical cantilever.


For tall and high-upward thrust buildings, using a braced body and structural partitions on my won’t be enough to govern the general lateral displacement besides the forces. In such cases, extra inflexible structural structures are required. Tube systems are one such machine wherein columns are intently spaced alongside the fringe, growing the number of columns withinside the perimeter forming a tube. It seems like a hole cantilevered structure. The indoors columns may be decreased and may take simplest the gravity masses because the outer tube is exceptionally stiff and resists all the lateral masses.

Photo from SpringerLink

Different tube structural systems are used, such as:

  • Framed tube
  • Tube in a tube (hull and core)
  • Bundled tube

Different types of structural systems

Continuous structures

These contain non-stop helping partitions via which the mixed hundreds and forces in a construction are transferred, particularly with the aid of using direct compression, into the subsoil via the foundations. The wood flooring of a conventional brick-constructed house, for example, offers lateral bracing and saves your capability deflection of the partitions. Laying the bricks in a bond sample, i.e., with staggered vertical joints, lets in compression forces to be calmly dispensed during the wall volume.

Framed structures

Timber, bolstered concrete, and metal can all be used to create normal frameworks comprising beams and columns. The beams switch masses from the roof, floors, and partitions to the columns. The columns switch the beam masses to the sub-soil thru the foundations. The useless and imposed masses from roofs or ground slabs can be transferred to the ground beams, after which to the structural body. Compared to a non-stop support-kind shape of comparable weight, a framed shape commonly transfers extra focused masses into the subsoil. 

Framed structures
Photo from Pillow Space Frame

External partitions in framed homes act as infill panels among columns and beams. Because they’re non-load bearing (although they bring their very own weight and need to face up to wind forces), they may be of any long-lasting fabric that fulfils thermal, acoustic, fire, and environmental criteria. When placed at the outdoor of the body they shape part of the constructing envelope and are called cladding. When they’re placed on a secondary metal framework connected to the outdoor of the primary shape in order that an air flow hole is created at the back of them, they’re called a rain screen. 

 The function of the structural body relative to its cladding will decide the outside appearance: cladding panels may be placed at the back of, in the front of, or flush with the body.

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. 

Sheel structures
Photo from Wikipedia

Shell roofs structures are `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 needed compared to more traditional roofs. However, containment structures such as edge beams are required to prevent “spreading” of the shell.

Tensile structures

tensile structures
Photo from The Constructor

Conventional systems have a tendency to be stabilized through the movement of gravity to their mass, conserving them in compression. A tensile shape is a shape this is stabilized through anxiety instead of compression. Systems hold each anxiety and compression, and its miles the diploma to which a shape is deliberately tensioned to stabilize it that determines whether its miles taken into consideration a tensile shape. A suspension bridge is an instance of a tensile shape.

Membrane structures


Membrane structures (or fabric structures) create spaces surrounded by stretched membranes. At its simplest, a tent can be thought of as a membrane structure, as steel or fiberglass posts support a canvas or plastic membrane covering. As a structure, the membrane can be divided into pneumatic structure, tensile membrane structure, and cable network membrane structure. In all these cases, the membrane is tensioned by a tensile force (or internal air pressure) applied by the steel cable, which transmits a force to the structural frame and then to the ground. Membrane takes shape through the action of cables and structural elements. In inflatable structures, steel cables and columns are replaced by air supporting a reinforced membrane.

Examples of Structural Systems

Clemson University College of Architecture–South Carolina, USA

Tree / Branching Structure gadget capabilities the usage of tree-like columns for support. The column rises from the floor with its complete diameter, just like the trunk of a tree, after which begins off developed, branching close to the pinnacle to increase over a larger span. These columns are used for big spans or double-top spaces.

Clemson university
Photo from Clemson University

Habitat 67 – Québec, Canada

Stacked-Box Structure resembles the concept of stacked bins. If you stack bins on the pinnacle of every other, with stability in mind, they’ll shape a status shape. In actual buildings, however, the stacked bins want greater help for assured stability. After all, in case you exert a horizontal load at the shape of cardboard bins or if a sturdy wind blows, it’ll fall. The greater structural assist may be furnished by a concrete or metallic structural center and skeletal metallic frames or cantilevers.

Habitat 67
Photo from ArchDaily

Kresge Auditorium – Massachusetts, USA

A shell is a large curved surface with a tiny thickness relative to its length and width. The shell can be used as a roof for a lightweight structure or enclose the entire structure. The shell touches the ground at one or more points and transfers the load from the surface to the ground through these points.

Photo from Structurae

Technologies Used in the Construction of the Structural Systems

Over the centuries, engineers and designers have devised ever-new methods to construct taller, stronger, and greater stunning creations for the usage of game-converting substances like metallic girders, earthquake-evidence foundations, and glass curtain walls.

3-D Printed Houses

The technique of constructing a three-D-revealed structure isn’t always simply distinct, however loads faster than traditional creation. It is constructed with a focal point on decreased build-time, zero-waste creation, and optimized production. To begin with, the shape turned into revealed the use of a unique concrete blend thru which large-scale three-D systems had been made. The concrete blend is a base of normal cement which has a decreased water-cement ratio. While concrete is the number one cloth for regular creation initiatives as well, the power fed on to combine and shipping its miles manner extra than in three-D printing.

3d printed
Photo from Popular Mechanics

Robot Swarm Construction

One of nature`s most ingenious builders is the humble termite. With a brain the size of a grain of sand, it works alongside hundreds of thousands of mound mates to build colossal and complex mud structures. Termites captured the attention of Harvard robotics researchers because the insects don’t take orders from some central termite architect. Each termite works alone according to genetically programmed rules of behaviour. 

Robot swarm
Photo from O’Reilly Media

Together, like a swarm of single-minded individuals, they create monumental works of mud. Inspired by the termite, researchers at the Harvard Self-Organizing Systems Research Group have created a miniature construction robot that is programmed to work together like a swarm. A 4 wheeled robot can build brick walls by lifting each brick, climbing walls and placing bricks in open spaces. They have sensors that detect other robots and rules not to interfere with each other. They, like termites, are not “controlled” by anyone, but are programmed to collectively build certain structures.

Temperature-Reactive Tiles

temperature reactive tiles
Photo from Reddit

Temperature-responsive tiles can display rainbow colors, but differ from mother-of-pearl. Instead, heat-sensitive tiles are like mood rings for showers, counters, or backsplashes. These tiles reflect the heat map of everything they touch. When it’s cold, it’s black or dark blue. As the tiles heat, they change from blue to bright green, yellow, orange, and finally red. This unique glass tile. Thermochromic glass works this way thanks to the different liquid crystal molecular layers in the glass.

Permeable Concrete

During a heavy storm, sheets of rainwater pour down on roadways, sidewalks, and parking lots, scouring up floor particles and pollution and washing doubtlessly poisonous chemical compounds like gas at once into sewers and streams. Nature has its personal manner of filtering out pollutants from rainwater. Soil is a fantastic clear out for metals and different inorganic materials. As rainwater passes down via soil levels, microorganisms and plant roots take in extra chemical compounds. Knowing this, engineers have created a brand-new sort of permeable concrete that lets in rainwater to by skip properly via the pavement and allow nature do its work. 

permeable concrete
Photo from Roohome

Permeable or pervious concrete is made with large grains of rock and sand, leaving among 15 and 35 percentage of open area withinside the pavement. Slabs of permeable concrete are laid atop gravel or any other porous base fabric that shall we rainwater settle to the soil substrate beneath. Permeable concrete is an amazing alternative for asphalt in parking lots. Not most effective does it extensively lower runoff, however, the lighter shadeation of concrete displays daylight and remains cooler withinside the summer.

Carbon Nanotubes

A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. That`s impossibly small. An unmarried sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers. Your fingernail grows about 1 nanometer each second. Even a strand of your DNA is five nanometers wide. To assemble substances at the “nano” scale could appear impossible, however the usage of modern-day strategies like electron-beam lithography, scientists and engineers have correctly created tubes of carbon with partitions which are simplest 1 nanometer thick. 

carbon nanotubes
Photo from Encyclopaedia Britannica

When a bigger particle is split into smaller parts, the percentage of its floor location to its mass increases. These carbon nano tubes have the very best strength-to-weight ratio of any fabric on Earth and may be stretched one million instances longer than their thickness [source: NBS]. Carbon nano tubes are so mild and robust that they may be embedded into different constructing substances like metals, concrete, wood, and glass to feature density and tensile strength. Engineers are even experimenting with nanoscale sensors that could reveal stresses interior constructing substances and perceive capability fractures or cracks earlier than they occur.

Self-healing Concrete

Concrete is the unmarried maximum broadly used creation fabric withinside the world. In fact, it’s far from the second-maximum ate up substance on Earth, after water. Think of all the concrete homes, workplace buildings, churches, and bridges constructed every year. Concrete is reasonably priced and broadly adaptable, however it`s additionally at risk of cracking and deterioration below stresses like severe warmth and cold. In the past, the simplest manner to restore cracked concrete become to patch it, improve it, or knock it down and begin from scratch. But now no longer anymore. 

self healing concrete
Photo from Good News Network

In 2010, a graduate pupil and chemical engineering professor at the University of Rhode Island created a brand-new kind of “smart” concrete that “heals” its personal cracks. The concrete blend is embedded with tiny drugs of sodium silicate. When a crack forms, the drugs rupture and launch a gel-like recovery agent that hardens to fill the void. 

This isn’t always the simplest approach to self-recovery concrete. Other researchers have used microorganism or embedded glass capillaries or polymer microcapsules to gain comparable results. However, the Rhode Island researchers accept as true with their approach is the maximum cost-effective. Prolonging the existence of concrete may want to have big environmental benefits. Worldwide concrete manufacturing presently bills for a five percentage of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. Smart concrete might now no longer simply make our systems more secure, however additionally reduce returned on greenhouse gasses.

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