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Point of View

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Why do designs by different structural

engineers vary so greatly?

U. H. Varyani

Structural design is a science as well as an structural system. For taller buildings, RC thereby giving scope to considerable error
art. So, designs by different structural en- frames in both the principal directions need in the results.
gineers are expected to be different in terms to be provided, with brick walls acting as
of planning of structural systems, steel con- filler walls. It is not easy to decide in a given Analysis
sumption in reinforced concrete (RC) mem- case, whether load-bearing brick walls or In small buildings with load-bearing brick
bers and in their detailing aspects. But, as frames will be appropriate. This is one of walls, it is fair to assume that wind or earth-
structural analysis is based on the math- the reasons for differences in design results. quake forces will be resisted by brick walls
ematics of the theory of structures and the Further, frames have to be provided in the by way of box-action in plan. In other
structural design in IS 456 : 2000, the re- two principal directions to resist horizontal words, brick walls act as shear walls in re-
sults of a given structural design must not loads due to wind or earthquake, which sisting wind or earthquake loads. In small
vary greatly1. But, in practice, it is observed may act in any random direction. But the buildings upto four storeys, a twin-system
that vast differences exist in designs of simi- author has come across an existing build- of frames with filler walls can also be con-
lar buildings by different engineers. This ing with frames in one direction supporting sidered, wherein vertical load is resisted by
aspect is quite disturbing to all concerned, one-way slab system with no beams in the frames and horizontal load by filler walls
particularly to a client. This is not a happy longitudinal direction. This building is vul- acting as shear walls. This system will lead
situation, from a professional standpoint. nerable when wind or earthquake acts in to a good reduction in steel consumption in
There are many problems in the planning, the longitudinal direction. Likewise, for still buildings. In framed buildings, the effect
analysis and design of buildings, some of taller buildings, shear walls are required to of floor slab on the moment of inertia of
which are discussed below. be provided which will interact with frames beams should be considered by which mo-
in resisting vertical and horizontal loads. ments in columns work out correct and rea-
Problems However, some designers may consider sonable, leading to an efficient column de-
only shear walls to resist horizontal loads, sign. In practice, many engineers do not
Planning neglecting the interaction of shear walls with consider this aspect even in computer analy-
For houses and small buildings (say upto frames. Buildings under horizontal loads sis, thereby leading to incorrect and expen-
four storeys), load-bearing brick walls with behave as one unit, so 3-D analysis must sive column design.
RC floors give an economical and efficient be employed for correct results. Some engi-
neers may adopt 2-D analysis in each prin- Design
cipal direction or may even consider only
U.H.Varyani, Consulting Structural Engineer, Footings are designed as inverted floors
Kothari Associates Pvt Ltd, 6, Siri Fort Road,
one frame under horizontal loads and su-
loaded with uniform soil pressure from
New Delhi 110049 perimpose this analysis on other frames too,

522 The Indian Concrete Journal * August 2001

Point of View

below. For reducing steel in footings, con- be adequate for shear and placement of bars However, safety is the paramount require-
crete depth is kept on the high side. Raft in one or two layers for efficiency. ment of good structural design and it must
foundations may profitably be designed by not be compromised with, in order to
the method of modulus of sub-grade reac- In slab design, slab thickness should achieve economy. A structural engineer
tion which gives a variable loading of soil work out less in order to save on the dead must bestow equal attention to all struc-
pressure from below. load which ensures economy in the design tures in hand, whether small or large. His
of beams, columns and footings. More steel approach should be strictly professional
Column reinforcement is very sensitive should be provided at midspan, in order to and he should exert his utmost to produce
to moments acting on a column section satisfy deflection requirements of thin slab a satisfactory design in all respects. With
about the two principal axes. Some panels6. Engineers, unaware of the above professional commitment, the results of
designers may design columns only for axial fine points of design, may produce costly structural design by different engineers will
load, neglecting moments altogether. This or unsafe designs. not vary significantly in analysis and de-
approach gives minimum steel in columns sign aspects. In respect of planning and
but it leads to unsafe design. The code Columns loads detailing aspects, some new concepts are
requires all columns to be designed with expected from inspired and gifted engineers.
Column loads can be computed by the fol-
the minimum eccentricity moments or
lowing three methods.
moments due to continuity with floor References
beams, whichever is more1. Some designers (i) 3-D analysis by a computer 1. ______ Indian standard code of practice for plain
consider only one moment with axial load. program and reinforced concrete, IS 456 : 2000. Bureau of
The correct position is to consider axial load Indian Standards, New Delhi.
combined with biaxial bending. Further, (ii) tributary area method7 2. REYNOLDS, C.E. and STEEDMAN, J.C. Reinforced
slenderness effects in columns must not be Concrete Designer’s Handbook, Tenth Edition,
neglected. Slender columns consume more (iii) method of beam reactions. E&FN Spon, London, 1988, p. 218.
steel and these should be carefully designed. 3. GHANEKAR, V.K. and JAIN J.P. Handbook for Limit
Hollow columns should be checked for both These methods lead to reasonably State Design of Reinforced Concrete Members,
the global and the local buckling effects. correct values. These column loads are then Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company
Some designers use a method of equivalent used for design of columns and footings. Limited, New Delhi, 1982.
axial load2. But this is an approximate and Some designers, under pressure of time, use 4. S INHA S.N. Handbook of Reinforced Concrete
crude method and it cannot replace the thumb rules for calculating column loads, Design, Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company
exact methods available to designers3,4,5. for example 1.5 t/m2 of covered area for an Limited, New Delhi, 1996.
Moments in column design should be interior column, 2.0 t/m2 of covered area
5. VARYANI, U.H. and RADHAJI, A. Design Aids for
reduced in order to achieve reduction in for an exterior column and 2.5 t/m 2 of Limit State Design of Reinforced Concrete
column reinforcement. In beam design, covered area for a corner column. These Members in Accordance with IS 456 : 2000.
support moments should also be reduced column loads are then used for column and Khanna Publishers, Delhi, 2001.
to get some reduction in steel over beam footing design. This is not a correct 6. ______ Explanatory Hand book on Indian Standard
supports. In computer programs currently procedure. It is similar to a mason's design. Code of Practice for Plain and Reinforced Concrete
in use, centre-line moments are used for It is not fair to the client and it is against (IS:456-1978), SP: 24-1983. Bureau of Indian
design, leading to more steel over support professional ethics. Standards, New Delhi.
sections, The depth of beams is kept on the 7. VARYANI, U.H. Structural Design of Multistoreyed
high side, to reduce steel consumption in Conclusion Buildings. South Asian Publishers, New Delhi,
beams and its width is kept on the low side, 1999.
Structural engineers are paid to produce
to reduce dead load of beams, but it should safe and economical design of buildings. •••

August 2001 * The Indian Concrete Journal 523