Structural Engineering

Leading Examples of Steel Structure Design

Bricks, timber and concrete are all commonly used construction materials, but for many projects, isolated structural steel elements offer many advantages. But there is no need to stop there on smaller projects, if you think that steel frames are limited to warehouses, skyscrapers, bridges and agricultural buildings, think again. The versatility of independent steel frames can be a benefit in many styles of construction, and the initial outlay of installing frames can be more than worth the cost in terms of increased space and aesthetic quality.

As an example, steel was the material of choice in the redevelopment of the Royal Academy of Music’s Grade II listed building. The choice of steel beams provides a strong and effective contrast between old and new. As a stunning piece of architecture, it was one of the shortlisted entries in the 2019 Structural Steel Design Awards.

The Structural Steel Design Awards

The Structural Steel Design Awards have been running since 1969. Entries are judged on their ability to highlight the benefits of steel construction and the skill, workmanship and efficiency of the design, fabrication and installation. The judges seek out innovation in design, build and manufacturing techniques in response to the client brief.

Other 2019 entries included the retractable roof on Wimbledon’s No.1 Court, a three-span arched footbridge in Chiswick Park and Tombola’s company headquarters in Sunderland. The decorative steel-framed roof was an impressive use of materials in the Battersea Arts Centre. Meanwhile, Neuron Pod, a multipurpose learning and community space, showcases the creative design of steel building.

Tottenham Hotspur’s new football club stadium was the overall winner in 2019. With the deadline for entries now closed for 2020, we look forward to seeing the next collection of structural steel designs in October.

steel structure design

Structural Engineering Consultancy

Our structural engineer services mean that RWA Consulting is on-site, pre-build to work with architects, site managers and building contractors. In assessing the site and understanding the brief, we can offer structural analysis and advice on the opportunities and potential risks of steel framed construction.


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What are the Advantages of Structural Steel Design?

Steel is a popular structural system in the construction of multi-storey buildings, due to its high strength to weight ratio in comparison with concrete. However, it also has many uses in lower rise construction where longer spans are required without intermediate support.

This makes the use of independent steel frames an ideal choice where floor plan flexibility is paramount. Structural steel frames are, therefore, an obvious choice for expansive airport terminals and sports arenas, but also on a smaller scale for creation of open plan living areas, modern glazed garden rooms and vaulted roofs.

Take a look at other advantages of structural steel design.

Aesthetic Qualities of Steel-framed Construction

Structural steel design is often considered a harsh, industrial material, used for function rather than beauty, but this isn’t always the case. Look up in any grand railway station, for example, and you are likely to spot decorative castellated beams or trusses. But also, the use of relatively narrow sections of steel to support long spans allows the steel work to be effectively masked by the finishes where required, potentially leading to completely hidden structure.

Managing the Risks of Structural Steel Construction

Modern steel is an incredibly durable and robust building material, with an inherent flexibility which allows it to withstand extreme conditions including hurricanes and earthquakes, where appropriate design is employed. It can, however, be negatively affected by corrosion and the intense heat of fires if environmental factors are not effectively managed. 

To counter these factors, our design engineers have a comprehensive understanding of the properties and limitations of the material and appropriate measures are employed to limit risks to the steelwork. These could include the use of active measures such as intumescent paints which swell to provide a protective coating in the presence of extreme heat, or passive measures such as careful design to provide separation from potential sources. 

RWA Consulting also provides structural inspection surveys. Carried out by experienced engineers, these check the structure of the building to ensure its integrity and stability, applying the same rigorous process that we apply to new design to existing buildings. Such building inspections can be one off surveys at appropriate times, but also could be part of a regular maintenance process. They can also be requested following a fire or other incident.

RWA Consulting is a Buckinghamshire-based structural and civil engineering consultants service. We work on new builds, redevelopments, inspections and repairs across South East England. Contact us on 01296 624924 or engineer@rwaconsulting.co.uk to discuss our steel structure design services.

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