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The Morphology of Structure

The Morphology of Structure

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Published by Breeze Maringka

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Published by: Breeze Maringka on Aug 28, 2009
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The Morphology of Structure
THE MORPHOLOGY OF STRUCTURES *
 
by Vinzenz F.J. SedlakAssociate Professor and Director, Lightweight Structures Research Unit,School of Architecture, The University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia *
updated in October 2003 from a published paper: 
SEDLAK, Vinzenz "The Morphology of Structure", Proceedings LSA’86 First InternationalConference on Lightweight Structures in Architecture, University of NSW, 1986 pp1164-1187 
INTRODUCTION
 STRUCTURE:in the broadest sense any material object that is able to sustain loads (forces) may be called a structure (3, p.11).This includes objects in nature such as land and water, animals and plants, in the universe such as stars, planets, solar systems and galaxies, as well as man-made objectssuch as buildings, bridges, vehicles, furniture, appliances etc. Accoring to this definition principle criteria of a structure are therefore: 
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The Morphology of Structure
the OBJECT, defined by its SHAPE and the MATERIAL it is made of, and the LOADING the object is subjected to.The shape of an object is its visible representation: it is what we see. The material of an object is often not visible at first view and may reveal itself only through its colour and surface texture. By touching an object texture and weight (loading)of its material can be experienced.In order to understand structure in its essence and its totality we must first consider shape, material and loading in turn and than combine them to form an integrated whole:structure. This process is described in subsequent sections of this paper. We will be concentrating on building structure, but while looking at buildings and the structures that make them stand up we should always be aware that buildings formonly one part of the world of structure. In order to be universally valid our investigation must address itself to the much wider context of structure: much can be gained and learned from observing andunderstanding the basic principles which govern structure in nature and its organisation in other technological fields often leading to insight and subsequent improvement of structures utilised in building. In order to obtain such insight and then to be able to draw parallels with buildings we must first look out for those basic properties and attributes of shape, material, loadingand structure which are common to a wide range of different structures and subsequently identify them. For this analytical process to occur and for the outcome to be understood we must first agree on a common terminology. That is a clearly identifiable, recurring set of definitions of those recognisable properties and attributes which are common and valid to all structures. 
TERMINOLOGY
 
BUILDING STRUCTURE, a specific type of structure, encloses and protects space from drastic changes in shape while resisting loads exerted on it by the elements of nature (wind, snow and earthquake), by the gravitational pull of the earth and by other influences such as temperature.That space usually accommodates people, animals, plants and goods. BUILDING is a part of the built environment which is relatively independent in its function and appearance. STRUCTURE is that part of a building that provides the support function in order to safeguard the overall functioning of the building.It consists of a STRUCTURAL CONTINUUM, a BOUNDARY which borders the continuum and SUPPORTS. Supports can be placed within the continuum or at theboundary. Depending on the complexity of make-up, the structure can be an ELEMENT STRUCTURE, a UNIT STRUCTURE, an AGGREGATE STRUCTURE or a COMPOSITESTRUCTURE. The CONTINUUM is that part of a structure that encloses (interior) space and is directly subjected to LOADING by external loads.
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The Morphology of Structure
 LOADING of the continuum creates FORCES.Forces cause STRESSES within the elements of the structure. The continuum responds to loading by stressing.Stresses are channelled through the object and through its elements into the structural MATERIAL which reacts to stressing with SHAPE-CHANGE. At the SUPPORTS these stresses are collected and channelled into forces which are then transmitted through the supports to the ground or to another supporting mediumwhere they are resisted by opposite forces activated by the supporting medium. In the case of an aggregate and composite structure the continuum is bordered by a BOUNDARY. The boundary makes up the extreme limits of the continuum and mayconsist of one or more structure elements. The STRUCTURE SYSTEM is the abstract model of that structure. A STRUCTURE ELEMENT is the smallest part of a structure which when connected to other structure elements makes up a continuum, a boundary or a support of thatstructure.(an example for an element in a continuum is a single beam in a series of floor beams). According to the make-up of the structure we differentiate between the following levels: 
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