A load imposed on a structural member at some point other than the centroid of the sectionA compressive or tensile load which does not act through the centroid of the cross section.
The column is one of the most familiar architectonic icons. Each of us can picture this veryimportant space definer in our mind's eye. It can delineate, punctuate, or seperate spaces. Aquick glance out most windows allows a view of at least one of them. Columns are vertical load-bearing elements which are normally loaded in compression. Time has brought manymanifestations of this simple element; thick, thin, long, short, spindle shaped, squat, etc. Andthey have been made out of any material that has a minimal compressive strength.The transition between the column and its loading member, usually a beam of some sort, hasoften been of great interest to builders. The structural/functional problem is quite simple - theforces collected by the beam must be transferred from the beam to the column - and yet thesolutions demonstrated a great variation. The early Egyption, Greek and Roman civilizationsturned this transition zone into an articulated flourish to draw attention to the capital. Inalmost every case it was broader at the top and tapered to the column shaft. This not onlyfacilitated a smooth transition for the forces, but also eased the construction and evenincreased the stability of of the buildings.A column either crushes (a strength falure) or it buckles (a stability failure). Both modes of failure must be considered for every column. The exact mode of failure is greatly dependentupon the way in which the column's cross-sectional area is distributed with respect to itscentroid. The following simple concept must be satisfied at all times:Stress due to loading < Resistance potential of the column