Plate structures are rigid, planar, usually monolithic structures that disperse applied loads in a multidirectional pattern, with the loads generally following the shortest and stiffest routes to the supports. A common example of a plate structure is a reinforced concrete slab.
A plate can be envisioned as a series of adjacent beam strips interconnected continuously along their lengths. As an applied load is transmitted to the supports through bending of one beam strip, the load is distributed over the entire plate by vertical shear transmitted from the deflected strip to adjacent strips. The bending of one beam strip also causes twisting of transverse strips, whose torsional resistance increases the overall stiffness of the plate. Therefore, while bending and shear transfer an applied load in the direction of the loaded beam strip, shear and twisting transfer the load at right angles to the loaded strip.
A plate should be square or nearly square to ensure that it behaves as a two-way structure. As a plate becomes more rectangular than square, the two-way action decreases and a one-way system spanning the shorter direction develops because the shorter plate strips are stiffer and carry a greater portion of the load.
Folded plate structures are composed of thin, deep elements joined rigidly along their boundaries and forming sharp angles to brace each other against lateral buckling. Each plane behaves as a beam in the longitudinal direction. In the short direction, the span is reduced by each fold acting as a rigid support. Transverse strips behave as a continuous beam supported at fold points. Vertical diaphragms or rigid frames stiffen a folded plate against deformation of the fold profile. The resulting stiffness of the cross section enables a folded plate to span relatively long distances.
A space frame is composed of short rigid linear elements triangulated in three dimensions and subject only to axial tension or compression. The simplest spatial unit of a space frame is a tetrahedron having four joints and six structural members. Because the structural behavior of a space frame is analogous to that of a plate structure, its supporting bay should be square or nearly square to ensure that it acts as a two-way structure. Enlarging the bearing area of the supports increases the number of members into which shear is transferred and reduces the forces in the members.
With the principal structural elements of column, beam, slab, and loadbearing wall, it is possible to form an elementary structural unit capable of defining and enclosing a volume of space for habitation. This structural unit is the basic building block for the structural system and spatial organization of a building.
- Horizontal spans may be traversed by reinforced concrete slabs or by a layered, hierarchical arrangement of girders, beams, and joists supporting planks or decking.
The vertical support for a structural unit may be provided by loadbearing walls or by a framework of columnsand beams.
Planks or decking Joists
Beams or girders Slab or plate structure Bearing wall
The dimensions and proportions of a structural unit or bay influence the selection of an appropriate spanning system.
- One-way systems of joists, planks, or slabs are more efficient when structural bays are rectangular—that is, when the ratio of the long to the short dimensions is greater than 1.5:1—or when the structural grid generates a linear pattern of spaces.
Two-way systems of beams and slab’ > a.re mot e effective for square or nearly square bays,
A two-way slab supported by four columns defines a horizontal layer of space. *
The parallel nature of loadbearing walls leads naturally to the use of one-way spanning systems. Because loadbearing walls are most effective when
supporting a uniformly distributed load, they typically support a series of joists, planks, ora one-way slab. -
A linear framework of columns and beams defines a three-dimensional module of space capable of being ‘ expanded both horizontally and vertically.
Two loadbearing walls naturally define an axial, bidirectional space.
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