Devising creative structural concepts
"As a Senior Project Expert at Sweco Belgium, I'm in charge of assessing the feasibility of complex building projects and devising creative structural concepts " Tom Molkens continues. "The new building planned for the Belgian embassy in Rabat is an excellent example. The architects wanted this building to radiate lightness and wanted to underline this feeling by the use of very slender columns on the outside to support the cantilever structure.
Sweco Belgium was consulted to advise on the feasibility of this concept. "The buckling risk of the slender columns was obviously an important attention point," Tom Molkens says. "It was however perfectly possible to control that buckling risk by ensuring that the horizontal loads on these columns were minimized, for example by providing a high amount of in-plane stiffness for the floor of the cantilever structure. Moreover, the use of solid steel sections for the most loaded columns instead of tubular profiles helped increase the buckling capacity of these columns. This kind of smart interventions makes it possible to realize the feeling of lightness that the architects had in mind.
Another requirement related to the evaluation of the impact of an attack. Such an evaluation was carried out on the basis of Eurocode 1.7, calculating whether the structure remains intact if columns are selectively removed. Once a Diamonds 3D analysis model was available, it was perfectly possible to perform this kind of what-if analysis for different scenarios. Personally, I find this to be the great power of 3D analysis software and a major enabler to explore and validate creative structural concepts. "