1 Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Section for Building Design, Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
The increasing global urbanisation creates a great demand for new buildings. In the aim to honour this, a new structural system, offering flexibility and variation at no extra cost appears beneficial. Super-Light Structures constitute such a system. This PhD thesis examines Super-Light Structures with architectural engineering as a starting point. The thesis is based on a two stringed hypothesis: Architectural engineering gives rise to better architecture and Super-Light Structures support and enables a static, challenging architecture. The aim of the thesis is to clarify architectural engineering's impact on the work process between architects and engineers in the design development. Using architectural engineering, Super-Light Structures are examined in an architectural context, and it is explained how digital tools can support architectural engineering and design of Super-Light Structures. The experiences of implementing a new structural system are described, as well as cases, demonstrating how concept solutions with Super-Light Structures can support architecture. The research in this thesis is carried out in cooperation with architect practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), who has allowed the projects to be subjects of examination for this thesis. The research results show that architectural engineering has a significant impact on a design process. The projects illustrate that simple explanations, underpinned by visualisations of the challenges between shape versus structure, often creates a shared understanding between architects and engineers that has a positive impact on the design process. In the thesis, digital tools are examined that allow interaction between parametric modelling tools and finite element programmes. They are of great help in designing complex Super-Light Structures. Also, they proved to significantly reduce the engineering response time, permitting the engineers to play a more active role in the design process. However, evidently, the tools were developed for other purposes, why further development for architectural engineering and Super-Light Structures is recommended in order to exploit their full potential. Implementing Super-Light Structures, non-transparent responsibility distribution and low risk-taking proved to be significant barriers for new products in the building industry. The thesis does not answer the question whether it is easier to launch a fully-developed product on the market, or to finalise the development in collaboration with the market players. However, it seems easier to convince market actors to adopt a finalised product. Super-Light Structures - mainly in the form of the SL-deck - proved very suitable at supporting the architecture in the examined projects. The greatest advantages were the option of making cantilevered structures and use of joints and integrated beams, which, because of their flexibility, seemed easier to integrate into the architectural concepts. The concept of Super-Light Structures has matured during the study period, but the concept still has a considerable unexploited potential. The thesis contributes with new knowledge on architectural engineering in a Danish context, and how it can positively influence the design process. Furthermore, new knowledge are presented via examples of how Super-Light Structures support structurally challenging architecture. The research, methods and results are reported in this thesis and in journal papers.