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Construction Design and Technology

In-service and end of life performance review, off-site manufacturing, facades, sustainable construction operations.

Theme1: Construction Design and Technology Research Projects

 

Project Title

FabForm: Making fabric formwork a commercial reality

Primary Theme

Construction Design and Technology Research

Secondary Themes

Construction Materials and Waste Minimisation

Project Summary

The use of fabric formwork (FabForm) holds the potential to be a disruptive technology in concrete construction. It allows for extraordinary architectural expression, the placing of concrete only where it is needed, savings in otherwise-heavy formwork, and the opportunity to automate concrete construction. However, it is not yet used widely. Only niche projects have been completed. What is required now is to understand better the barriers to commercial uptake and to determine the true costs of traditional and FabForm techniques such that a value proposition can be made. The construction sector suffers from an apparent endemic productivity challenge, so that disruptive technologies of this kind are essential to break the mould. This research could be transformative in leading to industrial uptake, particularly as it embraces so strongly digital technologies. Success in this project could lead to savings of 40% of concrete, even larger carbon savings on formwork systems, an injection of beauty into concrete infrastructure and automation of site processes.

 

 

Project Title

Wind energy absorbing building facade

Secondary Themes

Building Physics

Project Summary

The concept for this project belongs to Dr Ryan Judge of Arup. It is well known in pedestrian bridge design that assumed wind loading may be reduced on the structure if it is sufficiently flexible to move under such action. The question arises as to whether this phenomenon may be exploited in tall building design where wind plays a crucial part in its structural design. This is not to suggest that the entire building will be flexible and ‘forgiving’, but rather merely the façade. What if we could design a façade which moved and flexed as the wind blew, thereby relieving wind forces on the core structural system? Were this concept to prove successful, we could reduce design wind loading and save materials. Crucially, design-critical serviceability aspects related to wind-induced vibrations could be greatly alleviated. We might even be able to harvest some wind energy. Clearly, a suitable design of the façade system would be central to the project, and it would need to fit in with all the other building-envelope requirements which façades must provide, including those related to building physics, ensuring that this project was inter-disciplinary in outlook and outcomes.

 

Project Title

Prestressed fabric formed concrete structures

Secondary Themes

Sustainability and Urbanisation, Construction Materials and Waste Minimisation

Project Summary

Concrete is the world’s most widely used man-made material. Its use underpins the productivity of other industries. Yet the manufacture of cement is responsible for at least 5% of CO2 emissions, and research has shown that it material wastage in the order of 50% is common. There is now a pressing need to minimise the embodied energy of new concrete structures. Fabric formwork is a novel construction method for casting concrete structures, where the flexibility of the mould allows new architectural and structural possibilities. Research has shown that such moulds can be used to cast structurally optimised geometries that minimise material consumption and embodied energy. This project will take the research a step further by exploring the potential for prestressing of longitudinal reinforcement to achieve greater material savings. Combining continuously varying external geometries with prestressing presents a novel challenge, particularly in shear or anchorage critical zones. The optimisation solution of this project will address serviceability and ultimate limit state behaviour of geometrical complex prestressed structures through analytical and experimental research.

 

 

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Aug 15, 2017

For thirty young “castaways” from the Sutton Trust Summer School it’s a practice in Engineering for Self Sufficiency.