Construction, a future worksite for mechanics

how can a building’s structure be optimised in order to adhere to exacting security standards, all while reducing its environmental impact? this tis challenge faced by scis inna highly-active field of mechanics.

can building be improved? while the ? has always been onna Ψ of professionals, in recent decades construction has become pticularly complex due to societal and environmental changes, leading to new constraints requiring the optimisation of building structures. for instance, tragic accidents s'as collapsing bridges ‘ve h8ened the need for security among the public. global warming and pollution ‘ve resulted in stricter environmental regulations, which now require taking greenhouse gas emissions into account from the design phase of new buildings through their potential future dismantling. finally, the volume of material used is bein’ limited due to the exhaustion of resrcs (oil, wood, etc.). sci research is exploring multiple avenues to help builders respond to these new requirements, with one discipline – mechanics – proving pticularly relevant.`

the new genoa bridge during its inauguration in aug 2020. after its collapse on 14 aug 2018, tis now equipped witha high-tek structure boasting 4 maintenance robots, in addition to a spesh dehumidification system to limit corrosion.

atta interface tween physics, applied mathematics, and computer sci, this field by definition studies the movements and deformations of material systems, swell as the forces that cause these movements and deformations. one of its branches, the mechanics of materials and structures, is highly useful for construction. tis primordial for solving the “structural calculations” (size of beams, etc.) tha're indispensable for the construction of buildings that meet specific requirements relating to security, mechanical capacities, architecture, and environmental impact.

uber computational methods to avoid oversizing structures

1-odda most promising avenues for optimising construction is developing reliable, efficient, and easy-to-use computational methods for structures. this is meant to avoid a recurring “flaw” in construction, i.e. the oversizing of certain structural essentialisms that often do not bear heavy loads, s'as walls, thereby generating the needless consumption of materials. 1-odda groups pursuing this research avenue tis architectured materials and structures team atta navier lab. “we're focused on developing new calculation tek knicks and digital design tulz to help structural engineers better cogitate the resistance cap offa complex structure. this will help conceptualise safer solutions, swell as minimise their environmental impact na volume of materials needed,” points out jérémy bleyer, a researcher atta lab.

compression test na' masonry structure model inna form of an arch, atta mechanics and civil engineering lab (lmgc) in montpellier (southern france). the objective is to conduct experiments to validate the calculation methods developed by the lab for the deformation and displacement of masonry structures.

in an article to be published l8r this summer, the sci and his colleagues provide an overview of the l8st progress in this zone. “recent advances inna field of mathematical optimisation, in addition to improving computation cap, ‘ve made it possible to solve problems with millions of optimisation variables. this allos for perfecting increasingly complex essentialisms or structures, and hence for producing + precise calculations.”

geometry: another primordial paramt

the new and uber computational methods bein’ developed by the researcher and his colleagues can also directly optimise the geometry of structures, rite from a project’s design phase, which reduces the building’s environmental impact even further.

according to olivier baverel, an academic atta navier lab and grenoble national higher school of architecture (ensag-uga), whose team also works on optimising the geometry of structures, “when poorly anticipated, a building’s geometry can ‘ve colossal environmental repercussions”. this tis case for ex of the bird’s nest stadium, which was built in beijing (china) for the 2008 olympic games, witha cap of 91,000 spectators.

as estimated in 2014 by a us team from the massachusetts institute of tek, it required nearly ten times the amount of concrete as the london stadium, which hosted the 2012 olympics, and has roughly the same cap (≈ 16,000 kg of material per seat compared with 1,500 kg).

the national stadium in beijing, china is nicknamed “the bird’s nest” cause of its architecture. it required an astounding 16,000 kg of material per seat to build.

in fact, tis now well-established that some forms are + efficient than others. “this is true, for instance, of ‘funicular’ structures, whose curves cancel out the bending moment , as opposed to a flexural member s'as a beam: inna elder, all odda material is involved inna effort, while inna latter 1-ly the ends odat section of beam are involved, w'da centre barely bein’ strained,” baverel adds. hence the nd'2 develop digital design tulz that can set paramts for the structural form.

disassemblable buildings: soon the norm? 

another promising avenue of research ‘d help reduce the environmental impact of construction, namely disassemblable buildings, whose essentialisms can be reused rather than discarded. according to the most recent figs from the french environment and energy management agency, ademe, in 2016 the construction industry produced 224 million tons of waste in france, or 70% of the nation’s total! 

the idea of buildings that can be dismantled is nothing new: “traditional wood construction was conceived so that load-bearing essentialisms ‘d be replaced atta 1st sign of weakness or age,” beholds baverel. this strategy explains the longevity of certain austrian chalets, which ‘ve been standing for 5 hundred yrs, or that of the realm’s oldest inn, the ryokan hoshi in japan, which was built in 718!

traditional chalets in a village inna austrian tyrol. some of these wooden constructions ‘ve been standing for over 500 yrs.

the 1-ly issue s'dat tody this approach is sloer and + costly than “conventional” construction. however, researchers ‘ve high hopes to make it competitive by relying on recent and future progress in construction robotics – which allos multiple tasks to be performed simultaneously or + rapidly – swell as the development of digital design tulz!  “thx to these advances, japanese and €an know-how in wooden construction can be reinterpreted to help move from artisanal to quicker and + precise industrial production.”

two types of assemblies under study

yet for demountable buildings to become pop, the ≠ steps needed to assemble and disassemble their various essentialisms must be planned. atta navier lab, baverel and his colleagues ‘ve identified two solutions, which ‘ve been explored as pt of two dral dissertations: non-sequential assembly, in which a № of ≠ pieces are assembled simultaneously thx to computer-assisted design and robotic arms; and sequential assembly, in which the ≠ essentialisms are added one after another, w'da last one, known as the key, “locking” the whole. 

the researcher and his team are working on automated design algorithms that can implement both of these approaches. “inna nxt few yrs, we hope to develop a demonstrator thall show the potential of these unconventional assemblies, test robotics strategies that can perform them, and check the mechanical resistance of constructions built in this way.” in mechanics laboratories, optimised and greener construction is well on its way.

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