Ultimately, the construction materials used for a building are themain support system for the whole structure to thrive. Constructionmaterials mainly serve two purposes, and that is, forming theskeleton (support structures) and aesthetic appeal. Undoubtedly, thechoice of materials to be used have an impact to the environment.Therefore, civil engineers are tasked with the authority of selectingthe materials that pose an insignificant-negative impact to theenvironment. In the early days, bricks, stones, timber and limeconcrete were utilized for the construction of houses or otherimportant structures. Moreover, the invention of concrete and cementhas proved to be significant improvements in the construction ofdurable structures. In the construction of larger structures,reinforced concrete has been extensively used reinforced concrete isa composite construction of concrete and steel. Essentially, othermaterials such as glass, plastics, linoleum, aluminum, steel, plasterof Paris and paint have all added quality to the general form ofbuildings. Civil engineering has experienced continued research andthus, the architecture of modern buildings is also developing, andtherefore, construction technology is also changing (Ngowiet al. 2005).
In this research paper, the knowledge gained in class will be used toanalyze the construction details of the buildings presented here.Specific insight is paid to the construction materials used for eachbuilding and their relevance to the structure (Ngowiet al. 2005).
A total of seven buildings are discussed here, on an individualbasis.
30 St Mary’s Ark (The Gherkin), Foster + Partners (2003)
This was the first ecological and tall building in London. An easilyrecognizable feature in the city’s burst into contemporaryarchitecture. It is forty-one floors high and has about 46,000 squaremeters office space, cafes and arcade shops. The structure isconstructed from a circular plan and a radial geometry that widenswith increasing height and narrows towards its apex. At street level,the building seems more slender to the public realm (FOSTER+ PARTNERS2016).
Figure1-Figure 1- 30 St Mary’s Ark (The Gherkin), Foster + Partners(2003)
Scale-wise, thebuilding is almost similar to the surrounding tall buildings.However, it is not constantly visible in the entire area because TheShard has taken a huge portion of the London’s skylinemetropolis. Several streets make the building accessible to thepublic, as the building is located one of the busiest sections ofLondon. The landscape is dotted with many buildings that range fromdifferent architectural styles, tall, medium and short and builtwith different materials. The window glasses provide a panoramic viewto the entire surroundings.
30 St Mary’s Ark (The Gherkin), Foster + Partners (2003) is180 meters tall and has its exterior entirely covered by 24,000square meters of glass. The skeletal structure of the building wasconstructed with high-quality steel. Steel is a corrosion-resistantmaterial, and so, it helps in the longevity of the building. Thesupporting pillars (columns) at the base of the building are builtwith reinforced concrete and steel and thus reducing the amount ofmaintenance and regular inspection, because such materials are highlydurable as compared to other structural materials. The design aspecthelps to reduce the wind deflections and creating pressuredifferentials that serve to bring a unique system of naturalventilation to the building. Therefore, the design concept was easilyachievable by the use of steel and glass which can be easily shapedtowards the structural requirements. Glazing has been extensivelyused in the façade of the building. The double-skinned glasses areenergy and acoustic-efficient. One of the challenges of the buildingis frequent cleaning. Lower levels are cleaned by the workers whilehigher levels are cleaned by hydraulic systems. So, this is a hugeburden in its electricity and financial budgets. Visibility isreduced if the glass-works are not cleaned properly. The bestsolution to this challenge can be frequent cleaning andreplacement of worn out glass windows.
122 Leadenhall Street (The Cheesegrater), Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners (2014)
At a height of 225 meters tall, The LeadenhallBuilding is one of the iconic post-modern, high-tech buildings inLondon. It resembles a wedge shape and thus the nickname TheCheesegrater. It is located in thefinancial are of London’s sprawling metropolis, where severalbuildings such as the Lloyd’s Building, the Gherkin and the Scalpelare the immediate neighbors (Dezeen Magazine 2011).
Figure2-122 Leadenhall Street (The Cheesegrater), Rogers Stirk Harbour &Partners (2014)
Scale-wise, the building is relatively tall and easily visible ascompared to other buildings. Public spaces are adequately availableand thus making the building easily accessible to clients. Thetraffic is usually flowing as the area is seemingly busy. Thebuilding is highly constructed with steel, with the internal framemade of steel beams and columns and the external support is also asteel core. Glazing work is also visible and it plays an aestheticand structural essence in the standing of the building. The materialswere shaped to meet the design concept of the building (DezeenMagazine 2011). This was supplemented by the use of steel which iseasily manipulated to create the skeleton structure that supportedthe glazing works. Since the building contains massive structures ofsteel, it was a daunting task to move them across extra heights andbolt them in place. In that regard, it was reported that some steelbolts had fractured and fell from the building. For instance, inNovember 2014, two bolts fractured and fell from the fifth floor ofthe building. Such a challenge can be solved by frequent buildinginspection and maintenance.
Lloyd’s Building- Richard Rogers (1986), Lime Street
Lloyd’s building has a total height of 95.1 meters. It stands inLime Street, London. Traffic is high in the financial area of LondonCity (where this building is located), and thus the building has ahigh influx of people going in and out. The public space of thebuilding is spacious as the floors are large. Many services arelocated in the exterior of the building, therefore, a considerableamount of space is freed up and allowing uninterrupted activity onvarious floors of the interior (Architecture.com).
Figure3- Lloyd’s Building- Richard Rogers (1986), Lime Street
The structure is concrete-steel frame built. The façade iscomplimented by the exposure it displays to the public realm. From adistant view, toilet pods, staircases, glass lifts and several pipesare visible to the public (Bradley& Pevsner 1997). The entire building is almost constructedwith reinforced concrete cast in situ. The main pillars arereinforced concrete, a feature of post-modern structural engineering.The design concept was utilized in order to build a room for verticalexpansion possibilities, in the future. Prefabricated components wereused to make beams, pillars and slabs of the several towers. Craneswere left on top of the building as a decorative element ofcontemporary architectural aesthetics. Glass windows are mainly usedfor ventilation and aesthetic purposes. Nevertheless, the concreteslabs have visible cracks. This can be corrected by various methodssuch as moisture remediation and floor leveling.
O2 Arena (the Millennium Dome,) Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners (1999), Greenwich Peninsula
This building has 100,100 square meters inhabitable space. It has amaximum height of 50 meters and is dome-shaped. It is a successfulentertainment hub at the heart of London. The arena occupies 40% ofthe dome structure, and hence, leaving a huge portion for the publicspace. The 02 Arena is easily accessible via water and roadtransportation networks (Rogers Stirk Harbor + Partners).
Figure4- O2 Arena (the Millennium Dome,) Rogers Stirk Harbour &Partners (1999), Greenwich Peninsula
The dome is suspended by 12 steel masts each a hundred meters (100)long, which are in turn supported by more than 75 kilometers ofhigh-strength steel cables that also sustain theTeflon-coated-glass-fiber roof. The construction choices had amassive budget and it was doomed to fail. However, it managed to comeinto completion. Some of the supporting steel masts have signs ofpaint wear-out. This might have been caused by the amount ofprevailing moisture that is supplied by the surrounding river. Waterspeeds up corrosion. Such a challenge can be prevented by frequentinspection, structure maintenance, replacement of worn-out sectionsand repainting.
The National Theatre Denys Lasdun (1976), AND Temporary Theatre (The Shed) Haworth Tompkins (2013) Southbank
This is one of the most prominent and resourced performing arts venuein the UK, located in London city. It borders a river and it is anepitome of urban-landscape. The surrounding is dotted with numerousapartment blocks, cafes, and the Waterloo Bridge, which are allaccessed by various transportation means. As a busy area, TheNational Theatre has high traffic. The theatre is open to the public,and thus, the public space was sufficiently created to cater for suchneeds. It is divided into several auditoria that are mainlyconstructed with reinforced concrete (Dezeen Magazine 2014).
Figure5-The National Theatre Denys Lasdun (1976)
The supporting columns are reinforced concrete with steel and arealso used to make the internal skeletal structure. The concrete isalso utilized as a surface finisher. Glass has been used forventilation and aesthetic purposes. However, the glass has covered asmall space of the building’s façade. Steel work is mainly visibleat the upper floors of the building, and they serve as supporting andsafety measures. In later years, Haworth Tompkins re-modelled theNational Theatre. The building was transformed it to align to thechanging nature of the city and opened more public places withre-designed entrance service points. So, The Shed wasconstructed. It is a bright red auditorium constructed of raw steeland plywood. The external is fully beautified with rough-sawn timberboards (Dezeen Magazine 2015).
Figure6-Temporary Theatre (The Shed) Haworth Tompkins (2013) Southbank
Natural ventilation is supplied by the four chimneys located at thecorners and which help to suck air into the structure. Woodenmaterials are re-cycled and that is why they were used for thetemporary construction.
London City Hall, (GLA Building), Foster + Partners (2002), Tower Bridge
The 45 meterbuilding houses the government of London. The immediate landscape iscovered by the River Thames and the Tower Bridge. The floor design(public space) is considerably bigger to accommodate the ever-flowingtraffic that seeks to get the services offered at the building. Thereis also a huge public space located at the entrance of the buildingwhere people sit to wait for the services they need (FOSTER+ PARTNERS2016).
Figure7-London City Hall (GLA Building), Foster + Partners (2002) TowerBridge
It is an oval-shaped glass and steel structure. Its unique designcatches the eye quickly. Steel is the main material used as asupporting vertebrae, but, glass is the main visible constructionmaterial from the outside. From a public realm, glass seems to be anevocation of the beauty and financial superiority that the buildingpossesses. However, the sloping glass façade serves to absorb thediffuse light from the North. All in all, the design concept attemptsto avoid the exposure of direct sunlight. The building is builtnearby to a river (water mass), therefore, corrosion is visible inthe steel works in the outside. Such a problem can be solve byfrequent inspection and applying anti-corrosive materials on thesteel structures.
The Shard, Renzo Piano Workshop/Broadway Malyan (2013), London Bridge
This iconic structure has an architectural height of 306 meters and afloor area of 110, 000 square meters. Currently, it is the tallestbuilding in London and dominates the London skyline. It is home to anumber of multi-national companies and thus the traffic is high.Public space is limited because the building is highly guarded(Arcspace.com 2012)
Figure8-The Shard, Renzo Piano Workshop/Broadway Malyan (2013), LondonBridge
In the center of the building, there stands the prime structuralelement, which is the concrete core. However, from the outside view,the steel-work stands out prominently and reinforced by theglass-work. The combination of this highly durable constructionmaterials helped to form a strong structure that will stand for manyyears to come. The steel materials provide structural functions andsupport the glazing works. So far, the building doesn’t have anyproblems, it looks stylish and flawless.
Arcspace.com. (2012) The Shard. Available from<http://www.arcspace.com/features/renzo-piano-/the-shard-/ >[20 March 2016]
Architecture.com.Lloyd’s Building. Available from<https://www.architecture.com/Explore/Buildings/Lloyds.aspx>[20 March 2016]
DezeenMagazine. (2011) The Leadenhall Building by Rogers Stirk Harbor +Partners. Available from<http://www.dezeen.com/2011/01/27/the-leadenhall-building-by-rogers-stirk-harbour-partners/>[20 March 2016]
Dezeen Magazine (2014) Brutalists Buildings: National Theatre, Londonby Denys Lasdun. Available from<http://www.dezeen.com/2014/10/06/brutalist-buildings-national-theatre-london-denys-lasdun/> [20 March 2016]
Dezeen Magazine (2015) Haworth Tompkins completes renovation of DenysLasdun’s National Theatre. Available from<http://www.dezeen.com/2015/05/15/haworth-tompkins-denys-lasdun-national-theatre-london-renovation-production-centre-cafe-bar-education-centre-auditorium/>[20 March 2016]
FOSTER+PARTNERS. (2016) Projects/ 30St Mary Axe, London. Available from<http://www.fosterandpartners.com/projects/30-st-mary-axe/>[20March 2016]
FOSTER+ PARTNERS. (2016) Projects/City Hall, London. Available from<http://www.fosterandpartners.com/projects/city-hall/>[20 March 2016]
Ngowi, A.B., Pienaar, E.,Talukhaba, A. and Mbachu, J., (2005) The globalisation of theconstruction industry—a review. Buildingand Environment, 40(1),pp.135-141.
Rogers Stirk Harbor + Partners. The Millennium Dome. Available from
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