Basically, designing a concrete building has to be inclined with the building code of a certain country. A structural design must be prioritized by a structural engineer before the project can start. Take note that building codes are simply a guide to design requirements and constraints.
It does not provide actual methodology as to the construction process. Country to country codes or standards defers depending on the location of the place globally. The optimum factor of safety is used to countries lying near active fault lines or volcanoes compared to static countries.
When designing a concrete building, these are the primary categories to be considered:
1. Dead Loads
Dead loads are referred to the weight of structural and architectural materials used in the structure including but not limited to the floors, partition walls, ceilings, roofs, stairways including finishes and cladding. These can be the suspended slab, beams, girders, masonry walls including the plastering. In other words, dead loads are the weight of the structure itself. Actual dead loads are used in the design. Should the information be limited to the actual loads, building codes have a table to use for minimum values of the structural or architectural materials.
2. Live Loads
Live load is referred to maximum load expected by the users. These are dynamic or static loads used by the user but does not include any dead loads or environmental loads such as wind loads, rainfall loads, snow loads or seismic loads. Maybe temporary such as furniture and appliances or permanent such as plumbing fixtures. In summary, it is moving and it is not permanent.
3. Special Loads
These are loads of great importance such as fire suppression land protection lines, sanitary and plumbing lines, and heavy electrical cable, especially in high-rise buildings. These are usually the loads brought by the weight of the other trade construction such as elevator cables and cars.
4. Environmental Loads
Environmental loads refer to weather-related loads such as wind loads, average rainfall or snow loads. Structural requirements per country may vary due to seasonal differences of places in the globe. Hurricane or typhoon is a kind of environmental loads or turnado.
5. Seismic Loads
Seismic loads are the anticipated force or pressure brought by the movement of tectonic plates. This earthquake provision is primarily to safeguard against major structural failures brought by the natural disaster. Structural requirements per country also vary. For example, Japan which is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire has greater minimum allowable shear strength compared to static countries.
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This is the timeline the structure is anticipated to last. Relevant categories such as deflections have to be adequately small. Cracks are to set on tolerable limits and vibrators are to be minimized.
The overall functionality of the structure given all the loads is carried. The strength of the structure as a whole must be adequate against possible collapse. This must be taken as the highest regards as some of the assumptions such as force distribution might be different from the actual.
Designing the concrete structure may be done with several mathematical assumptions, but know that every provision is of high importance. These are simply a way of ensuring that the structure has the capability to take all perceived loads to avoid any future injuries or fatality.