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Chapter 3

Modular co-ordination
The use of modular planning is not supposed to be a limitation on the freedom
of the designer as it is only a tool to achieve a good quality work and economy
and to simplify connections and detailing. As a rule, modular co-ordination
should be used throughout the precast building in every de-sign, as far as it
does not conflict with other constructional or architectural requirements. Where
possible, standardised units, elements and systems should be used and nonstandard solutions and details should be avoided. This applies also to the grid
line distances, storey heights, step dimensions, etc
The basis for modular planning is to select a suitable grid, where the building is
located rela-tive to the main axis or lines of the grid. The modular distances
between the grid lines should, as far as possible, be equal. This will limit the
number of different components to be manufac-tured and simplify the detailing.
The whole process then becomes much more efficient.
The most common module of a basic planning grid is a multiple of 300 mm (3M,
where M=100 mm). The most common choice of distances between the grid
lines is 1200 mm, 2400 mm, 4800 mm, 6000 mm or 7200 mm. It is
recommended that span lengths and sized of com-ponents that fit into this
system be chosen.

There will be inevitable differences between the specified dimensions and the
actual dimen-sions of the components and final building. These deviations must
be recognised and allowed for. Precast concrete is generally manufactured with
relatively small deviations, and very fine specified deviations can be met for
special work, but designers should take a realistic view of dimensional
It is essential to consider this from the outset and to discuss tolerances as early
as possible with the frame, cladding and services suppliers, to ensure the
buildability of the design and its details in relation to fit. Specified deviations
should be appropriate to the design and based on normal construction methods
and current practice, avoiding unnecessary constraints on manu-facture and
erection. The width of joints between elements must be determined between
certain limits to realise a good functioning of the building and to avoid problems
during erection. From these joint di-mensions, the dimensions of elements can
be derived and they also form the base for activities like setting-out and
adjustment of elements. Specifying too small permissible deviations for all

dimensions at the factory and on the site is unlikely to be reasonable or

necessary and leads to increased cost. In the first case by increas-ing man-hours
and more rejected elements and in the second case by problems of fit during
erection. The magnitude of the permissible tolerances has to be economical as
well as reasonable and achievable in practice.

Assume a p.c. wall element between two p.c. concrete columns with centre to
centre 6m. To determine the width of the joint between the column and the wall
element it is necessary to take into account several different factors that influence
the deviation in the joint width.
Name six factors that influence this joint width deviation.


There are many different types of prefabricated elements on the market. All
data of these ele-ments are catalogued, so that the designer can take these
data into account in an early stage. Load-span data for different types of
prestressed precast concrete floor systems or beams are presented in graphical
form. These are based either on ultimate state (moment, shear) or serviceability requirements mostly (deflection), and show typical load-clear span
curves. Big spans are mostly controlled by deflexion. However, the actual curves
will vary from manufac-turer to manufacturer, resulting from differences in
profiles, prestress, concrete mixes, fire resistance, etc. The manufacturers
literature should be referred to for precise values. An important advantage of
standardised elements is the low price; an important disadvantage is the low
versatility in use. To achieve a high level of application of standardised elements
it is necessary that modular co-ordination is used in design, which respects the
modular sizes and the possibilities of stan-dardised elements. It is obvious that
two-way interaction between designer and manufacturer is necessary to ar-rive
to an optimum result

Chapter 4 Components
Components for single storey structures
Single storey precast concrete frames are mainly used for warehouses, stores,
factory buildings (with overhead cranes), shopping centres, sports halls,
swimming pools. The main functional requirements are:
- large spans, up to 45 m clear span in one or both directions;
- high ceilings, typically up to 15 m;
- low construction and maintenance costs;
- rapid erection rates;
- facility for large door openings;
- possibilities for future extensions.
Roof solutions
Roof beams
The most popular roof beam is the prestressed pitched I-section of variable
For distances between the beams of up to 6 m, the roof slabs are mostly laid
directly onto the beams. For distances bigger than 6 m purlins are necessary.
The cross section of the purlin can be rectangular but, in connection with
demoulding, it should be preferably slightly trapezium-shaped (Figure IV-4, 5).

By the trapezium shape of the cross section fixed moulds can be used. The
width must be as small as possible to decrease own weight, but of course
sufficient to provide enough bearing for the roof slabs. From the point of view of
fire resistance the mini-mum width is 200 mm for 2 hours and 120 mm for 1hour fire resistance.
Roof slabs
Onto the roof beams the roof slabs are laid. The width of these slabs is normally
600 mm, 750 mm or a multiple of these widths. Load bearing capacity and
thickness of slabs depend on the material they are made from (cel-lular
concrete, lightweight concrete, steel, wood wool cement, etc.).
Most popular is cellular concrete with thicknesses of 100 mm tot 250 mm. The
maximum span is ca. 7,50 m, but preferred spans are between 3,00 m and 6,00
m; with slabs respectively 100 mm and 200 mm thick. Cellular concrete
possesses good thermal insulation capacity Cellular concrete Lightweight

Cellular Concrete, also known as foam concrete, is the ideal

lightweight solution for design needs

Columns have mostly a rectangular cross
section and are mostly designed and
manufactured as traditionally reinforced
concrete. For columns fixed in the foundation
and subjected to large moments it can be
useful to use prestressing.
The column width is preferably taken equal to
the beam width. The connections (to beam,
wall, or foundation) are preferably
standardised. All edges are chamfered (15x15
mm). The columns can be provided with
corbels of standard-ised dimensions for
overhead cranes or for intermediate floors. Ishaped columns or columns with a circular
cross section are more expensive.

Faade panels


Several solutions are possible like: concrete with and without insulation, cellular
concrete, glass fibre reinforced concrete a.s.o. Cellular concrete is often applied.
The slabs have a length of 6,00 m, a width of 600 mm and a thickness of 150 to
200 mm and possess a good thermal insulation
Nowadays the most applied elements are: roof beams I-shaped with varying
height; roof slabs of cellular concrete; faade elements also of cellular concrete
Important is to use standard dimensions, which will make the production of the
elements eas-ier and the construction faster. Another advantage is that
damaged elements can be easily re-placed. Because this type of building is easy
to demount, it is also possible to reuse the elements.

Components of multi-storey buildings

These elements are applied in utility buildings (industrial buildings, office
buildings, school buildings etc.) and in apartment buildings. The elements are
columns, beams, floor slabs, load bearing walls, load bearing and non load
bearing faade panels, stairs, landings and more.
Prefabricated columns have often a square or rectangular cross section and are
mostly tradi-tionally reinforced only. In special cases prestressing is used.
Circular cross sections are difficult to make and therefore expensive, because
the columns must be poured in a vertical position. The modular dimensions of
the cross section are a multiple of 100 mm.
In order to decrease the number of splices it is advisable to make columns
several storeys long (usually 2 or 3 storeys, also depending on the own
weight/crane capacity). The length of the column is further limited by the
production method and by transportation.
For support of the beams on the columns often corbels are used. For industrial
buildings the shape and the dimensions of the corbel are mostly not important
(in connection with aesthetics). Here mainly the production and strength
requirements are governing. But for office, school buildings or hospitals corbels
have to comply also with requirements concerning aesthetics. Small possible
dimensions are often required here. An example of standardisation is shown in
Figure IV-11.

Different types of corbels are shown in Figure IV-12. Type b has a much higher
load carrying capacity than the corbel on one side only but is diffi-cult to make
and should be used only when absolutely necessary.

Fig. IV-11

Fig. IV-12