Welcome to KCS Structural Engineering
In this section we’ll be dealing with the superficially dry subject of structural engineering. But it’s an important one. Every project of any significant size needs the attention of a structural engineer and DIY enthusiasts will do well do consider structural engineering principles in their own small projects.
Broadly speaking a structural engineer is an engineer who concentrates specifically on the load bearing implications of structures whether they be buildings, pieces of machinery or anything else. Structural engineering principles are involved anywhere where structural integrity affects function and safety. It’s a type of speciality within the civil engineering industry
Our readers will mostly be interested in buildings but we may include structural engineering advice in relation to house boats and anything else that’s relevant
All buildings bear loads, but some structures resist them. And structural engineers are on the scene more often than is apparent.
An obvious example of a load bearing structure is a bridge. Not long ago a pleasure boat crashed into Chertsey Bridge in Surrey and became wedged under it. But this was more than an inconvenience to river users.
The bridge had to be closed until a structural engineer could be called to report on whether the bridge could safely bear the weight of the traffic going over it
So no structural engineer, no bridge. And that was an existing structure which in itself was perfectly safe
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As soon as man became capable of building any sort of structure he must have realised that certain principles applied. No theoretical knowledge was necessary to understand that certain structures would bear loads and others wouldn’t. Working out what will stand up at all is a form of ‘structural engineering’ analysis. At first it came with experience, and those who had the experience were in effect ‘structural engineers’
By the time of the Pharaohs structural engineering had come a lot further. It was probably on the advice of structural engineers that the ‘pyramid’ design arrived. ‘Structural engineers’ would have seen that they could be built to any height. Size was limited only by the number of construction workers and the amount of stone available
The builders of Stonehenge were early British Structural Engineers and their skills must also have been involved in moving the stones across the country. By the time of the Industrial Revolution structural engineering was well recognised as a profession. Structural engineering principles are now involved in building rockets, satellites and space stations.
But we’ll be focusing on the more mundane earthly implications of structural issues, mostly in relation to domestic building projects
Even installing of a single beam may require structural engineering advice and we’ll be looking at the structural implications of something as straightforward as constructing a portal frame right through to anything else such as building a roof extension and we’ll be telling you how to recognise signs of structural damage so you can take remedial action fast before it becomes more serious and advising on how you can turn unsightly but structurally unavoidable components of your constructions into visually pleasing features by incorporating artistic impact into the structural design process itself
And in keeping with our consistent focus on sustainability we’ll be looking at ways to minimise the use of materials in structures to reduce their costs and environmental impact.