Glossary of Construction, Surveying and Civil Engineering



A-frame building:  An A-frame house is an architectural house style featuring steeply-angled sides (roofline) that usually begin at or near the foundation line, and meet at the top in the shape of the letter A. An A-frame ceiling can be open to the top rafters. Although the triangle shape of the A-frame has been present throughout history, it surged in popularity around the world in the post-World War II era, from roughly the mid-1950s through the 1970s. It was during this time that the A-frame acquired its most defining characteristics.


Access chamber: Underground chamber enabling access to drains or other underground services.


Acre: Unit of land area in the Imperial system; 4840 square yards, or the equivalent of a rectangular field one chain wide and one furlong long, approximately 4047 square metres or 0.4047 hectares.


Acrow: A telescopic prop much used as a temporary support in construction. Named after the American manufacturer who first introduced them to the UK. acrow (2K)


Additive: Chemicals added to cement based products (concrete, mortar, render, screed etc) to impart various desirable properties such as to increase or reduce curing time, increase strength, enhance workability and so on. The amount of additives should be watched carefully since in excess or combination they can have undesirable effects.


Aggregate: The stones and sand (coarse and fine aggregate respectively) used as a filler in concrete, asphalt etc.


Air conditioning: Originally, a system by which fresh air is drawn from outside the building and brought to an acceptable condition in terms of temperature and humidity before being introduced into the building. The name is often also applied to chillers with no air handling, drying or heating capacity.


Aircrete: A lightweight aerated cement-based material from which easily handled high insulating building-blocks are made. (Trade name.)


All-in ballast: Ballast suitable for making into concrete without the addition of any other aggregate.

Angle: Steel angle: a steel section whose cross-section is L-shaped. If the vertical and horizontal legs of the ‘L’ are the same length it is called an equal angle, if different, an unequal or odd leg angle. Angles are also available in other metals.


An amount of rotation. The measurement of angles using 360 degrees in a whole circle, with each degree divided into 60 minutes of 60 seconds each, is of very great antiquity, going back to the Babylonians who used a number system based on 60s rather than tens.


Arch: A basic form of masonry construction dating back millenia. Brick arches are found spanning over window and door openings in Victorian and older buildings; their disadvantage is that they exert horizontal thrust at their bearings, which sometimes leads to distortion in poorly designed or maintained arches. arch (1K)


Architrave: Timber moulding around a door frame or similar.


Arris: A sharp corner at the junction of two planes or surfaces.


Arris rail: Timber of triangular cross section (made by cutting a square section diagonally), used for fence rails and forming fillets at the junctions of flat roofs and walls.


Ashlar: Smooth sawn stonework used in a wall.


Axed arch: A brick arch in which the bricks are cut (traditionally with an axe) to a wedge shape. The mortar joints are of even thickness. As opposed to a rough arch.




Back addition: Traditional terraced housing originally comprised rooms between the front and rear external walls. When ‘indoor plumbing’ became the rage, extensions were built at the back of the house to contain the bathroom, wc, kitchen and scullery. The rear wing of a house is still called the back addition, even if it was built at the same time as the rest of the house. back_addition (2K)


Ballast: Mixed size aggregate.


Beam: A horizontal member that carries vertical loads along its length. It would traditionally have been timber (the word originally meaning “tree trunk”) but a modern beam might more often be reinforced concrete or steel. (Fr. poutre, f) A steel component designed for use as a beam; “Universal Beam”.


Bench-mark: A levelling base point of known level. The Ordnance Survey has set up bench marks around the UK. Contractors often establish ‘temporary bench marks’ (‘TBM’) at convenient points around the site.


Bending moment: The bending force in, for example, a beam. The units of bending moment are those of force x distance, for example, kiloNewton-metres.


Berm: An earth bank left against a retaining wall during excavation, until it is propped.


Bessemer converter: A kind of steel-making plant, no longer in use.


Bill of quantities (BOQ): A list of all the quantities of each component and operation required in a construction project. The BOQ enables all the tenderers to price exactly the same work, and makes it simple to work out the value of the work done at any time during the job. For small jobs the benefit of a BOQ may be outweighed by the cost of producing it.


Blinding: A layer of concrete covering the ground so that steel reinforcement can be laid out without becoming contaminated.


Block: Building unit of a regular size usually made of solid or aerated (“aircrete”) concrete. block


Blockwork: Built with blocks. blockwork


Bolt: Threaded fastener used (with a nut and washers) for connecting building components, particularly steel and/or timber. bolt (1K)


Bond: The arrangement or pattern of bricks (or other masonry units) in a wall. Each unit should overlap the unit below by at least one quarter of a unit’s length, and sufficient bonding bricks should be provided to prevent the wall splitting apart. Common bond patterns are Flemish, Stretcher, English and English Garden Wall.


Bonding plaster: A proprietary type of plaster with good adhesive properties. It must be used with care as it is hygroscopic, i.e. it will readily absorb atmospheric or rising moisture.


Box gutter: A timber gutter lined with lead or some other waterproof material. (Fr. chèneau (m) encaissé). boxgutter (1K)


Brace, Bracing: Diagonal members (or rigid membranes) providing rigidity to a structure.


Bressemer, Bresumer etc.: A timber lintel flush with the surface of the brickwork above it.


Brick: Building unit of a regular size usually made of baked clay. Can also be calcium silicate or concrete. The standard size of metric bricks in the UK is 65 x 102.5 x 215mm, designed to be used with a 10mm mortar joint. The equivalent theoretical size of imperial bricks, used with a 3/8 inch joint, is 2 5/8 x 4 3/16 x 8 5/8 inches. Clay bricks are of course of great antiquity as evidenced by archaeology and the bible. (Fr. brique, f).


Brick guard: Steel mesh panel used on scaffolding to make sure that loose bricks cannot fall off the scaffold.


Brick tie: A metal or plastic component to tie together the two leaves of a cavity wall. Older galvanized ties tend to rust away and have to be replaced.


Bricklayer: A skilled trade which requires years of training and practice. (Fr. maçon, m).


Brickwork: Made of bricks. (Fr. maçonnerie, f).


Bucket-handle pointing: Recessed in the half-round shape of an old-fashioned metal bucket handle.


Building Control: The first Building Control was introduced, in London, after the Great Fire (1666) when District Surveyors were engaged to enforce the Building Regulations which prevented the spread of fire from house to house – the Regulations had existed before but had often been ignored. The system now covers the whole UK and includes rules on most aspects of building as it affects public safety and health, enforced by Building Control Officers. See links for details. Not to be confused with Town Planning.


Building services: Plumbing, electrical wiring, ventilation, gas supply and other support systems in a building.




Calcium silicate bricks: Smooth bricks made by compressing and heating a mixture of sand, or ground flint, and lime. Popular in the mid 20th century but less used now, because of their tendency to shrink.


Camber: The rise in the middle of a roadway for drainage, or the similar shape given to a beam so that it will become level when loaded.


Cantilever: Overhanging beam, roof or floor.


Casement: A window which is hinged rather than sliding.


Cast iron: A brittle material no longer much used in structural engineering.


Cavity tie: See brick tie.


Cavity wall: A wall consisting of two leaves or skins of masonry, seperated by a cavity to enhance water resistance and thermal insulation. A form of wall construction known but rarely used in Victorian times but which came into common use in the 1930s. (Fr. mur (m) à double paroi).


Cement: A powder which when mixed with water forms a paste that hardens with time. Portland Cement was first patented by Joseph Aspin in 1824 and is known as hydraulic cement, because it will set under water. Cement is mixed with sand to make mortar or render, and with larger stones added it is known as concrete. The sand and stones are there to reduce the shrinkage to which Portland cement is subject and to reduce the amount of cement needed. There are various grades: the usual one is called Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC); others commonly used are rapid hardening and sulphate resisting.


Cement mixer: Mechanical device consisting of a rotating drum with fixed paddles inside, used for mixing cement with aggregate and water to produce concrete, mortar, or any other cement-based mixture.


Centring: Temporary supports used when building an arch.


Chain: Surveyors’ unit of length in the Imperial system. Gunter’s chain, named after its inventor, comprises 22 yards or 66 feet, approximately 20.117 metres. Gunter’s chain is useful for deriving areas in acres. The lesser-known Engineer’s chain, 100 feet long, was used for measuring linear distances, along roads for example.


Channel: A structural steel component which is C-shaped in cross section.


Characteristic strength: The strength at which a member tested would fail, normally with 95% confidence.


Cill: Alternative spelling of sill.


Circular hollow section: A structural steel component in the shape of a round tube.


Cladding: The seperately-applied exterior finish of a framed building.


Clamp: See cramp.


Classical orders of architecture: The classical orders are styles of building originating from the construction of temples in ancient Greece and Rome. Orders are defined by their varying styles of column, although the orders also include information on the proportions of the building. The Greeks originally had three orders: the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Doric is the simplest, Ionic more elaborate, and Corinthian more decorative still. The Romans added the Tuscan and Composite orders which are respectively plainer and more highly decorated than the Greek orders. classical (3K)


Cleat: A steel plate or angle with holes for bolting, for connecting the components of a steel frame together.


Coarse aggregate: Any aggregate larger than fine aggregate. Gravel. Available with a maximum size of 10, 20 or 40mm.


Collar: A horizontal timber joining two opposing rafters together. collar (2K)


Collateral warrantee: A legal agreement between a developer and a building contractor or designer, allowing the contractor or designer to be made responsible to a third party, such as a finance provider or a purchaser, for the execution of their duties.


Common rafter: A normal rafter, which extends all the way from wall plate to ridge, as opposed to a jack rafter.


Compasses: An instrument for drawing arcs and circles. Not to be confused, incidentally, with a compass (in the singular) which is a magnetic instrument for finding North. compasses (2K)


Competent person: Person with sufficient knowledge of the specific tasks to be undertaken and the risks which the work will entail, and with sufficient experience and ability to enable them to carry out their duties in relation to the project, to recognize their limitations, and to take appropriate action in order to prevent harm to those carrying out construction work, or those affected by the work. (Construction Design and Managment Regulations 2007)


Composite order: One of the ancient classical orders of architecture, introduced by the Romans. Its capital combines the volute scrolls of the Ionic with the acanthus foliage of the Corinthian. composite order: Nash Terraces, Regents Park


Compression: The pressing force experienced in a column or in the top flange of a beam.


Computer aided design (CAD): The type of computer program with which technical drawings are prepared. The market leader is AutoCAD but there are others.


Concrete: An artifical stone-like substance obtained by mixing large and small stones and sand with cement and enough water to permit full hydration and make the mix workable. Concrete (like the stone minerals from which it is made) is strong in compression but weak in tension. Roman concrete was based, not on Portland cement, but on a ‘pozzolanic’ mix, made from volcanic ash and incorporating ground-up bricks and tiles. (Fr. beton, m).


Concrete pump: A machine for transporting concrete down a delivery pipe. May be truck mounted or static.


Contract: Building contracts may legally be formed verbally. Usually however a written contract should be used. There are various standard forms of contract, such as those provided by the Joint Contracts Tribunal and the various engineering institutions.


Contract administrator: Many forms of building contract specify a Contract Administrator to manage the contract on behalf of the Client. It may be the architect, the engineer, or a specialist such as a project manager. The CA’s main duty is to specify how much the contractor is due to be paid at each stage.


Contract documents: The contract drawings, bill of quantities, specifications, and any other documents referred to in the contract.


Contract drawings: The drawings on which the contract is based.


Coping: Protective capping on the top of a parapet or free standing wall.


Corbel: Projecting brick or masonry courses; from Norman-French meaning ‘crow’ after carved stone projections used in medieval times to support roof trusses. corbel


Corinthian order: The most elaborate and decorated of the three ancient Greek orders of architecture, its capital is carved in imitation of the growth of acanthus leaves. According to Roman writer Vitruvius, a young lady of the nobility in Corinth died, and her nurse placed a basket containing her belongings on top of the grave, with a roof tile on top to protect it. An acanthus plant grew right under the basket and its shoots curved and rolled around the corners of the tile. A passing architect noticed this and copied it in stone. Corinthian order (2K)


Corrugated iron: (Corrugated galvanized iron). Iron (or for the last hundred years at least, steel) sheet formed into a ridged shape, used for roofing and cladding.


Coupler, coupling: A device for mechanically joining two linear components like pipes, scaffold tubes, or a drill bit with an extension.


Course: A layer of bricks or blocks in a wall.


Cramp (also clamp): Metal component built into masonry to join it to another member, for example a window frame (‘frame cramp’), or to join two masonry units together.


Crane: Lifting device which can be fixed or mobile.


Crippled: Of joists, doubled-up to form a trimmer. (American term.)


Cure: The hardening of concrete and other cement products. Curing requires a certain range of temperature (more than 6C but not enough to cause thermal stress) and sufficient internal water to combine with the cement.




Dado: A timber moulding fixed to the wall at waist level.


Damp proof course (DPC): An impermeable material built into a wall near the ground to prevent rising damp. Types available include lead-based, bitumen-based, or plastic-based. Two courses of impermeable engineering bricks can also be used. The DPC must be at least 150mm above the external ground level.


Damp proof membrane (DPM): Usually heavy duty polythene, incorporated within floors built on the ground to prevent rising damp.


Dead load: The weight of the materials which form a permanent part of the structure, as opposed to imposed load.


Deal: Softwood; a standard piece of softwood used for making joinery.


Design and build contract: A building contract in which the builder is also responsible for all or some of the design.


Design check: Evaluation of the design to determine whether it conforms with the design brief and can be expected to provide a safe engineered solution.


Development: The improvement of land in order to make use of it, e.g. by building structures on it or by adapting existing structures. Development can either be for the developer’s own use, or else speculative, i.e. for profit.


Digger: Excavators with hydraulic transmission are ubiquitous in groundwork. The first to be produced were made the J C Bamford company.


District Surveyor: Borough officers first appointed after the Great Fire of London to supervise the Building Regulations. Now combined with the Building Control Officer.


Doric Order: The simplest of the ancient Greek orders of architecture. The columns consist of a plain fluted shaft and a simple capital; there may be no base or a simple round one. According to Roman writer Vitruvius the order originated with a temple to Juno built by one Dorus. Doric Order (2K)


Dormer: A window projecting from the slope of a roof. Dormer (2K)


Dowel: (Concrete) A steel bar for transferring load across a joint. (Joinery) A timber moulding with a circular cross section.


Dragon beam: In traditional pitched roof construction, a diagonal tying timber across the corner of a hip.


Drypack: A strong mixture of cement and sand damped with a small amount of water, used to fill holes in existing walls for example in underpinning.


Ductwork: Air-handling pipes fabricated from sheet steel.


Dumpy level: Originally a simple but accurate optical instrument invented in 1832 by English civil engineer William Gravatt. Now applied to any optical levelling instrument used by builders.




Effective length: A concept used in the design of structural members. May be more or less than the actual length to compensate for the degree of restraint of the ends of the member, a member which is more rigidly held at the ends being stronger.


Engineer: In English, the term is associated with engines, although this is a historical accident, the first engineers having been military engineers who were responsible for ‘engines of war’ such as tunnels and seige towers. Engineers engaged on public works such as canals, highways and railways called themselves ‘civil engineers’ to distinguish themselves from military engineers. There are now many kinds of engineer. The word itself is unprotected in the UK, so that anybody can call themselves an engineer, such as in the joke job descriptions ‘rodent control engineer’ and ‘domestic engineer’. In France the equivalent word ‘ingenieur’ seems closer to words signifying ingenuity, and is a controlled designation requiring its holder to have appropriate qualifications.


Engineering brick: A type of brick which is particularly strong and impermeable. The traditional product was blue in colour; other colours and qualities are available.


English Bond: Alternate rows of bricks consist of all headers and all stretchers. Traditionally considered to be the strongest bond, it is often found in engineering works like bridges and retaining-walls. english_bond (1K)


English Garden Wall Bond: Most brickwork bonds are designed so that one side of the wall can be built ‘fair-faced’ (suitable for viewing as finished work); the other side, inside the building, will be plastered so the brickwork can be left rough. Garden walls however will be seen from both sides, so Garden Wall bond is designed with a minimum number of headers so that both sides can be built fair-faced.


External works: The landscaping, roads and paths created in the parts of the site not occupied by the building.


Extrados: The upper surface of an arch.



Falsework: Temporary structure used to support a permanent structure while it is not self-supporting.


Fascia: In roof construction, a decorative board fixed to the ends of the rafters. Also the name board over a shop-front.


Feather-edge board: A board which is thicker one side than the other. Used for fencing, where they are fixed vertically and overlapping. Sometimes found in tiled roofs, fixed horizontally, with the thicker edge at the top to provide a hanging point for tiles.


Filler Joist Floor: An obsolete but commonly-found form of floor comprising a concrete slab reinforced with steel I-beams known as rolled steel joists.


Fine aggregate: Sand used in making concrete, mortar etc.


Firring: A piece of timber cut as a wedge and fixed to the top of a joist. Used to give flat roofs a fall for drainage, or to level up uneven floors.


First fix: Electrical and plumbing first fix are the fixing of the wires and pipes in the fabric of the building, before plastering. Carpentry first fix is the provision of joists, studs and rafters.


Flange: The top and bottom plates of an I- or H-beam, or of a channel. The top and bottom flanges of a beam are usually in compression and tension respectively.


Flashing: Lead (or other durable metal sheets) to protect junctions of roofs and walls from water ingress. (Fr. bande (f) de recouvrement).


Flat roof: A roof with a slope or pitch less than ten degrees from the horizontal.


Flemish Bond: The most common bond in brickwork 225mm or more in thickness, it consists of alternating headers and stretchers, with each header being in the middle of the stretchers above and below. flemish_bond (2K)


Fletton: The common type of machine-made yellow/orange frogged brick used in the south-east of England and London. Named after Fletton, near Peterborough.


Flint-lime brick: A kind of calcium silicate brick.


Flitched beam, Flitch: A timber beam strengthened with one or more steel plates bolted or screwed to it, often sandwiched between timbers.


Flue: Channel formed with masonry or specially made blocks or pipes through which the products of combustion pass to the outside. Until the middle 20th century, the need to stack flues from storey to storey imposed a discipline on architecture which is now absent.


Fluid Mechanics: The science of the properties and motion of liquids and gases.


Flush pointing: Flush with the surface of the bricks.


Foot: Unit of length in the Imperial system; one-third of a yard, equal to 304.8mm.


Force: That which can accelerate a mass. An example of a force is weight, which acts to accelerate any mass towards the centre of the earth. Structural engineering is about providing structures which are strong enough to resist the weight and other forces acting on them. In the SI system, force is measured in Newtons.


Foreman: Trades foremen, for example foreman plasterer, electrician, are in charge of their tradesmen on a site. The general foreman is in charge of the trades foremen. The term does not specify gender.


Formwork: A mould into which concrete is cast.


Foundation: The part of a building or structure which transmits loads to the soil. Foundations may be stepped masonry, mass or reinforced concrete, or piled. (Fr. fondation, f).


Frame clamp or cramp: Metal component screwed to the window or door frame and built into the masonry wall.


Frenchman: A tool for forming the shape of pointing.


Frog: The recess in a machine-made brick.


Furlong: Unit of length in the Imperial system; ten chains, or 660 feet, one-eighth of a mile, equal to 201.168 metres.






Gable: The triangular wall at the end of a building with pitched roofs. (Fr. pignon, m).


Ganger: The leader of a work gang, for example, a concrete gang.


Gauge: A measuring rule. Also, the height of brickwork, specified as the number of courses per foot or per 300mm. In the south of the UK brickwork gauge is almost universally four courses per foot or per 300mm.


Ginny wheel: Pulley used for hoisting things up a scaffold.


Glass bead: Moulding used to retain glass in a window frame.


Gram: Unit of mass in the SI system of weights. Symbol g.


Grating: Iron or plastic protection over a gully.


Gravel: Naturally occuring ballast or course aggregate.


Green Roof: A flat roof covered (deliberately) with growing material. green_roof (2K)


Groundwork: Foundations, drainage, levelling and other building operations involving digging.


Grout: Cement mixed with enough water to make it runny, used to fill a gap under the base of a steel column. Also the filler between wall tiles.


Guarding: Protection against people or things falling off the edge of stairs, landings, balconies or scaffolds.


Gully: A container with water in it, to seal the inlet to a drain and prevent the release of noxious gases.


Gutter: Open channel for receiving and carrying away rain water. (Fr. gouttière, f).






H-section: A steel component shaped in cross-section like an H, such as a Universal Column (qv).


Half timbered: A descriptive term for a traditional timber-framed house.


Hammerbeam roof: A form of historical roof truss, usually comprising a central truss section spanning between two cantilevers.


Handrail: A length of timber or metal at hand height at the side of a staircase or landing.


Hardwood: Timber from a deciduous tree; note that hardwood can be softer than softwood, for example balsa wood is a hardwood although very weak and soft. In construction, hardwood may be used in preference to more readily-available softwood because of its higher strength, its greater durability, or its superior appearance. Efforts should always be made to ensure that the timber is from renewable sources. (Fr. bois (m) feuillu).


Header: A brick whose ‘head’ or short end is visible on the surface of the wall. See stretcher.


Hearth: Fire resisting area of floor adjacent to an open fireplace.


High alumina cement (HAC): Concrete made with this type of cement hardens faster than with Portland cement. This advantage once led to HAC being used for manufacturing precast concrete elements, but it has the disadvantage that it tends to become weaker over time especially in a moist atmosphere. The collapse of some swimming pool roofs in the 1970s led to HAC being banned for structural use. It is still used for non-structural purposes, for example, for bedding sanitary ware on a concrete floor.


High strength friction grip bolt: Used for connecting steel components in situations where it is not desirable for the connection to slip.


High tensile steel: A grade of steel stronger than mild steel, which may be used both in structural steelwork and concrete reinforcement.


Hip: A roof feature in which two pitched roofs meet at a corner; the rafter forming such a junction. The hip rafter is not usually a load bearing member. (Fr. arête (f) de croupe).


Hipped roof: Featuring hips. hipped roof (2K)


Hod: A three sided container mounted on a pole, used to carry bricks or mortar up a ladder.


Hod carrier: Bricklayer’s labourer.


Hoist: An elevator for lifting goods and, usually, people up a scaffold.


Hollobolt: Proprietary expanding bolt which can be used in making bolted connections to hollow sections, and other situations where lack of access prevents a nut being used. hollobolt (1K)


Hollow section: A tubular structural steel member, either circular (‘CHS’), rectangular (‘RHS’) or square (‘SHS’). Elliptical hollow sections are also available.


Honeycomb brickwork: Built with gaps between the bricks, to allow ventilation.


Hundredweight: In the UK imperial units system, a weight of 112 pounds, also equivalent to eight stone, or one twentieth of a ton.


Hydration: The process by which cement hardens by reacting with water.


Hydraulic cement: Cement which sets under water, like Portland cement.






I-section: A structural steel section shaped like an I, such as a Universal Beam.


Imperial system: The traditional system of weights and measures used in English-speaking countries until superseded by SI units in a process often called metrication, which took place in the UK in the early 1970s. The principal Imperial elements are yards (with their subdivisions of feet and inches), and pounds (divided into ounces and multiplied into hundredweights and tons).


Imposed load: The weight of furniture, people, storage, and any other non-permanent loads.


Inch: Unit of length in the Imperial system; one-twelfth of a foot, equal to 25.4mm.


Intrados: The underside of an arch.


Ionic Order: One of the ancient Greek orders of architecture, characterised by a fluted column and a capital consisting of four volute scrolls. Named after Ionia in Greece, where it was first used. Ionic order (2K)


Iron: An element, which is one of the most common on earth, and the principal component of steel.






Jack rafter: A rafter that is shorter than a common rafter because it is intersected by a hip or a valley.


Jetty: In traditional timber-framed buildings, the projection of an upper storey over the storey below. The reason for this form of construction seems originally to have been simply to increase the floor area of the upper storeys. Jetties – Leominster, Herefordshire


Jiffy hanger: A proprietary steel component which enables a joist to be connected to another timber running at right angles.


Joinery: The fabricated timber components of a building such as doors, windows and staircases. (Fr. menuiserie, f).


Jointing: The process of finishing the mortar between bricks or other masonry units at the time of building, as opposed to pointing the joint later.


Joist: (Timber) Horizontal member which is one of a group running parallel and close together, supporting a floor or flat roof. (Fr. solive, f). joists (1K)


Joist hanger: Proprietary steel component to support the end of a joist so that it does not have to be built into the wall.







Kentledge: Heavy weights used to counter balance a load or provide a reaction.



Keystone: The centre stone of an arch, if it is larger than the ordinary voussoirs.


Kicker: In reinforced concrete construction, a concrete plug typically 50 to 100mm high to help locate the formwork for a wall or column.


Kilogram: The principle unit of mass in the SI system of weights and measures. Equal to 1000 grams. Abbreviation kg. Approximately equivalent to 2.2046 pounds.


KiloNewton: One thousand Newtons – the unit of force in the SI system. Newtons are very small, and the kiloNewton is the practical unit most often used by engineers. In imperial terms it is approximately equivalent to the weight of two hundredweights. Abbreviation kN.


King post truss: Roof truss with a central vertical member.






Labourer: General labourer: building worker without any specific skill. Specific trades have their own labourers such as bricklayer’s, plasterer’s, labourer, whose job is to set up scaffolds and carry materials.


Lacing: Generally horizontal members that connnect together and reduce the unsupported length of compression members.


Laminated strand lumber (LSL): A type of reconstituted timber made of seperated strands glued together under pressure.


Lath: A thin strip of wood nailed to studs or joists as a carrier for plaster. Early laths were riven (split with a blade); in more modern times they were sawn. Expanded metal lathing (e.m.l.) is used for the same purpose, especially for external work with sand and cement render; internally, laths have been superseded by plasterboard.


Ledger: In scaffolding, the horizontal members running along the scaffold. They support transomes or putlogs.


Level: Horizontal; the instrument used for checking whether things are horizontal. Levels on a drawing are heights above a recognised datum which might either be the Ordnance Datum or a local datum for the job, whose location and value has to be specified on the drawings.


Levelling: Finding levels during surveying, or providing levels for new construction.


Lewis: A device consisting of expanding wedges used for lifting heavy stone masonry.


Lift pit: Every lift has (by law) to have a clear space below its lowest landing level, fitted with equipment intended to bring to a safe halt a lift which has failed to stop. This often requires a lift pit, typically 1.2 to 1.5m deep.


Lime Mortar: The traditional form of mortar, it is soft and flexible and liable to dissolve slowly in rain water. It is still available for use in restoration work.


Lintel, lintol: A short beam over a door or window opening; may be steel, concrete or, traditionally, timber. The spelling with an ‘o’ is traditionally favoured by draughtsmen; the ‘e’ however is given authority by the King James bible (Exodus 12:22 etc). (Fr. linteau, m).


Live load: Imposed load.


Load bearing: Designed to support a load in addition to its own weight.


Load factor: Engineers design structures to support loads which are more than the maximum load expected. The actual loads are calculated as accurately as possible and then multiplied by the factor. Typical load factors are 1.4 for dead loads and 1.6 for imposed loads.


London stock: The stock bricks made in the London area for centuries.





Manhole: Hole in the ground to allow access to underground services; access chamber. access (2K)


Mansard: A roof which slopes steeply (e.g. 15 degrees from the vertical) to allow more space inside the roofspace. Named after a French architect.


Masonry: In general usage this describes work constructed of stone, but technically the term masonry also includes brickwork and blockwork. (Fr. maçonnerie, m).


Mass: A property of all matter. It is measured in, for example, grams. Mass is independent of gravity, unlike weight which depends on gravity.


Mass concrete: Unreinforced concrete, as often used in foundations or other applications where the added strength of reinforcement is not required.



Maul: Large wooden hammer used in masonry and paving work.


Method statement: A document which shows how the construction will be carried out safely. Under most forms of contract the Contractor will prepare any necessary method statements and the Engineer will usually check them. Method statements are also sometimes required by neighbouring owners where potentially hazardous work is being proposed, or by Planning authorities to ensure that a proposal is buildable.


Metre: The basic unit of length in the SI system of weights and measures. Multiplied and divided by 1000 to give derived units such as millimetres and kilometres. Symbol m. In the USA the spelling meter is used. A metre is approximately equivalent to 3ft, 33/8 inches.


Metric: The UK construction and engineering industries were encouraged by the Government to adopt the metric system in the early 1970s. The system used was and remains (rather shortsightedly) based on millimetres rather than the centimetre system taught in schools in the UK and around the world. See SI system.


Mews: In London and other large cities, the stables belonging to large houses would often be accessed from a small road running along the backs of the properties, known as the mews. The mews properties are often separated from their main house and converted to sought-after dwellings. mews (2K)


Mild steel: Structural steelwork and reinforcement generally come in two qualities: mild steel and high-tensile steel, the latter being stronger but more expensive.


Mile: Unit of length in the Imperial system; 1760 yards, equal to 1609.344 metres.


Mix: The proportions of the ingredients of concrete, mortar and such like.


Mobile crane: Versatile lifting devices in a range of sizes, usually telescopic.


Mock Tudor: An architectural style popular in suburban development in the twenties and thirties, in which traditional styles were copied poorly. Mock Tudor (2K)


Modulus of elasticity: A measure of the amount by which something can be deformed by a force and recover when the force is removed.


Moment: Short for bending moment. The bending force which acts on, for example, a beam, and is resisted by an equal internal resistance moment within the beam.


Mortar: A binder for masonry. The traditional product was Lime Mortar; modern mortars rely upon cement mixed with sand, with the addition of lime or plasticizer added to make them workable or ‘buttery’. (Fr. mortier, m).


Mortice and tenon joint: A traditional way of joining two timbers at right angles: the one coming in from the side is reduced to a tenon, which fits into the cavity or mortice and is secured by glue or nailing.


Moulding: Timber (or other material in imitation of timber) shaped into a pattern and used for decorative details such as skirting, picture rail and so on. Traditional moulding shapes include quadrant, ogee, torus, chamfered, glass bead, half round, dowel and so on.


Moulding pin: A very thin pin or nail used for securing mouldings.






Needle: As a noun, a short beam introduced through a wall to provide temporary support while the wall is being re-supported. As a verb, to insert such beams.


Neutral axis: The point near the middle of a beam’s cross-section which experiences neither tension nor compression when the beam is subjected to bending.


Newlyn datum: See Ordnance datum.


Newton: The principal SI unit of force. It can be thought of as equivalent to the weight of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple.


Node: Theoretical point where two or more members are considered to be connected together.


Noggin (or nogging, naggin etc): A short length of timber fixed crossways between joists, studs or rafters; also the infill between the studs of a traditional timber-framed building.


Also, the brickwork or other infill between the studs of traditional timber-framed construction.






Ordnance datum (OD): The national leveling standard for the UK, the basis for levelling set up by the Ordnance Survey, representing mean sea level at Newlyn, S Wales.


Ordnance Survey: The organisation which makes and maintains accurate maps of the United Kingdom. The maps were originally for military purposes but are now used for land use planning and development of land.


Oriel window: A bay window that projects from the wall and does not have its own foundations.





Padstone: A block of concrete or stone used to spread the weight of a beam or joist, to avoid crushing the wall upon which it rests. padstone (2K)


Parallel flange channel: A form of steel channel.


Pargetting or pargeting: (pronounced pargeing). Rendering, especially (1) decorative sculptured rendering on the outside of a building, found mainly in East Anglia (2) the render (traditionally consisting of cow manure) lining the inside of a flue, formed into a cylindrical tube by pulling up an iron sphere on a chain.


Partition: A non load bearing wall between rooms or areas in a building. Partitions may be of any material but are often studwork.


Party wall: A wall shared between two buildings. Laws have existed for many years, particularly in London but now throughout the UK, for governing the building, alteration and maintenance of party walls. (Fr. mur (m) mitoyen).


Pea shingle: Shingle consisting of rounded stones that pass through a 10mm grid.


Permissible stress: Stress that can be sustained safely. Codes of Practice for structural design used to specify permissible stresses with which the actual stress was to be compared.


Perp.: The vertical mortar joint between two bricks (bricklayers’ slang).


Picture frame: In structural engineering, a rectangular steel frame consisting of two columns and two beams, sometimes used when a load bearing wall has to be removed.


Pier: A masonry column; a jetty.


Pile: A foundation consisting of a deep column extending down into the ground, used when the foundation needs to get support from a deeper and stronger or more stable layer. Originally piles were timber (often elm) but they can now be concrete or steel or even aluminium. Bored piles are made by pouring concrete into a hole drilled in the ground whereas driven piles are ready-made and driven into the ground. There are many ingenious proprietary piling systems and piling can be used both for new buildings and for strengthening or stabilising the foundations of existing buildings. Contiguous piles are used to form a retaining-wall.


Pile cap: A (normally reinforced concrete) structure transferring loads from the building into the piles.


Pile driver: Machine for hammering or forcing piles into the ground.


Piling rig: A machine which drills a hole in the ground for a cast-in-situ pile.


Pitch: Of roofs, the angle of the rafters from the horizontal. Traditionally the pitch was expressed as the number of vertical inches corresponding to twelve horizontal inches, thus a 45 degree roof was described as a twelve inch pitch.


Pitched roof: One whose slope exceeds ten degrees.


Planning: The legal system, operated and enforced by local authorities, by means of which the development of land is controlled for the public good. Not to be confused with Building Control.


Plaster: The material which is spread to leave a smooth surface on a wall or ceiling. The main binding material may be cement (when it is known in the UK as render), or lime, or gypsum, the latter two being restricted to internal use; in any case there will be a filler of sand, or in proprietary prepackaged plasters, powdered vermiculite. (Fr. plâtre, m; enduit (m) interieur).


Plasterboard: A sandwich made of two sheets of cardboard with a gypsum plaster filling, typically 9mm or 12mm thick. Nailed or screwed to studs, joists or rafters as a carrier for a plaster skim finish, or plasterboards with chamfered edges can be jointed so that they act as a finish without being skimmed with plaster.



Plasterboard helps to provide the resistance to fire of buildings. (Fr. placoplâtre, m, from a trade name).


Plum: A large stone or piece of solid concrete used as a filler in mass concrete.


Plumb: Vertical or verticality, measured using a plumb-line or plumb-rule or these days a spirit level.


Pointing: The surface treatment of the mortar between bricks or other masonry units. There are various styles of pointing: flush, struck and weathered, recessed, tuck, bucket handle etc. (Fr. jontoiement, m).


Poling board: A short strong board used in the temporary timbering of excavations and tunnels.


Portal frame: A structural frame consisting of two columns and a cross- beam, with rigid connections. Often used for single-storey warehouses and workshops. The cross-beam is often formed as two rafters to make a pitched roof shape. portal frame (2K)


Portland cement: A hydraulic cement used almost universally for making concrete and other cement based products. So-called because concrete made with it resembles limestone from the Isle of Portland.


Post stressed concrete: Concrete strengthened with steel wires which are stressed after the concrete has cured.


Pound: The unit of mass in the imperial system of weights and measures. Confusingly, the same word is also used sometimes for a unit of force, more accurately called a pound-force. The UK’s unit of currency called a pound was originally the value of a pound of ‘sterling’ silver.


Poundal: A unit of force in the imperial system of weights and measures.


Precast concrete: Concrete components made in a factory or yard and transported to the site.


Prestressed concrete: Concrete strengthened with steel wires which are stressed before the concrete is poured.


Professional indemnity: Insurance against claims against a professional person or practice.


Progressive collapse: The process wherein the collapse of part of a building leads to the collapse of an adjacent part in ‘house of cards’ fashion.


Pugging: Traditional infill between timber floor joists intended to enhance the acoustic insulation of the floor. It may occupy the whole depth of the floor or only part of it. Materials used include sand, mortar, concrete, straw and sea shells.


Pulverised fuel ash: A fine white powder resulting from burning powdered coal in power stations, which can be used to supplement cement in making concrete for civil engineering works.


Purlin: A horizontal structural member which supports a sloping roof covering, with or without rafters, and which carries the roof loads to the primary framing members. (Fr., panne, f). purlin (10K)


Putlog or putlock: A horizontal scaffold member one end of which is built into the wall. Putlog scaffolds are not much used these days because they can be dangerous, and because the hole in the wall has to be repaired when the scaffold is taken down.






Quadrant: A quarter of a circle. The name is also used for various things in this shape, such as a timber moulding, a corner kerbstone, or a historic navigational instrument.


Queen post truss: A truss with two posts directly supporting the purlins. Queen post truss


Quoin: The external corner where two brick walls meet.






Rafter: Sloping structural member supporting a roof. (Fr. chevron, m). rafters (1K)


Ready-mixed concrete: Mixed in a batching plant and delivered in ready-mix trucks.


Recessed pointing: Flat pointing set back from the surface of the bricks.


Rectangular hollow section: A structural steel component in the shape of a steel tube with a rectangular cross section.


Reinforced concrete: Concrete reinforced with steel bars to make a versatile structural material which is very strong in bending, shear, tension and compression, unlike plain concrete which is strong only in compression.


Reinforcement: (Also known as rebar). Steel bars for reinforcing concrete. They are bent into special shapes according to the Engineer’s bending schedule, and fitted into the correct position by a skilled operative called a steelfixer. rebar (2K)


Render: Cement-based wall plaster.


Retaining wall: Retains soil on one side. May be made of masonry, reinforced concrete, or various other traditional or proprietary structural systems.


Retention: A percentage withheld from a contractor’s payment until an agreed time after the work is complete.


Ridge: The top of a pitched roof, where roof planes that slope in opposite directions meet. (Fr. faîte, m).


Ridge board: A thin timber used to align the tops of the rafters. In most roofs the ridge board is not a load bearing member. (Fr. planche (f) faîtière). ridge (2K)


Ridge tile: A curved tile which covers the ridge on a pitched roof.


Riser: Vertical board rising from the back of one tread of a staircase to the front of the next.


Rising damp: Water soaking up through the walls of the building. May be prevented by the use of a damp proof course in the walls.


Rivet: Before structural steel I and H sections became available engineers made up sections by joining narrow plates together using steel rivets with a head formed by hammering while red-hot. Rivets are no longer used for connecting structural steelwork in the UK, with fabrications mostly replaced by ready made sections, and with bolting and welding available which are both faster and safer for connections. The presence of rivets in an existing structure can help in dating it, and usually indicates steelwork dating to before about the 1950s. rivets – Guiness Brewery Dublin


Rolled steel joist (RSJ): One of a range of I- and H-shaped steel members. Only small sizes of joist are still produced, most of the larger sizes having been replaced by Universal Beam and Universal Column sections.



RSJs were originally devised for use in filler-joist construction.


Rough arch: A brick arch in which the bricks are rectangular and the arch shape is formed by means of the mortar joints being wedge-shaped. (cf ‘axed arch’).






Sand: Aggregate consisting of mineral particles whose size is generally less than 5mm; fine aggregate. Merchants in the UK supply soft sand and coarse or fine sharp sand.


Sand-lime brick: A kind of calcium silicate brick.


Sash window: The traditional type of window which opens by sliding up and down. The frame is called a box-frame, because the side members are hollow wooden boxes inside which the counterweights slide up and down. The biggest problems with them are that over-zealous painting leaves them jammed shut, and the sash-cords have frequently to be replaced. Modern versions are available incorporating draught proofing and springs instead of weights.


Scaffold: A framework for temporary access to building works. The traditional way to build a scaffold in the UK used to be with timber poles connected together with wire bonds. Standardised 1 15/16 inch (49mm) steel tube with proprietary steel connectors came into widespread use after the second world war, based on war surplus tubing that had been used in beach defenses. Various proprietary scaffolding systems are also available and may cost less, but “tube and fittings” scaffolding has the advantage of flexibility. (Fr. échafaudage, m). scaffold (2K)


Scaffold board: Timber boards used to make walkways on a scaffold.


Scantling: The cross-sectional dimensions of a length of timber; the principal dimensions of a shaped stone; a piece of timber of a specific size.


Scarf: A traditional woodworking joint for extending the length of a timber. scarf


Screed: A temporary rail, installed at a specific level, to enable concrete to be finished at the correct level. Also sand and cement, mixed rather dry, laid on a (usually concrete) floor and screeded and trowelled to make a smooth surface. (Fr. chape, f).


Screw: Threaded fastener.


Secant piles: Contiguous piles where each pile cuts into the one before, to make a more-or-less waterproof retaining-wall.


Second fix: (See first fix). Work which takes place after plastering, for example, fixing light switches, skirtings.


Services: See: Building services.


Setting-out: The process of making sure that a building or structure is built in the correct position and the right size.

Settlement: The small downwards movement of foundations when the weight of the building comes onto them, due to compression of the soil. Tends to be negligible in clay soil but can be significant in sand. (Fr. tassement, m).


Shake: A defect of timber: damage caused by rough handling.


Sharp sand: Sand which, unlike soft sand, does not include fine silt or clay particles, making it more suitable for use in concrete and screed.


Shear or shear force: The force which tends to make the top and bottom flanges or fibres of a beam move parallel to one another. The web of the beam resists the shear force, which is at its greatest at the ends of the beam next to where it rests on its supports.


Sheerlegs: A lifting device using two timber poles fixed together at the top.


Shingle: Aggregate consisting of stones whose size is between 5 and 10mm. Also, a wooden roof tile.

Shuttering: Formwork.

Sill: Projecting moulding at the bottom of a window or door. (Also spelled cill).

Simply supported: Describes a beam which rests on a support at each end, that is, it is not supported at more than two points, is not held rigidly by the supports, and does not form part of a larger framework.

Skirting: Timber or other moulding around the base of a wall.

Sleeper wall: Supports a timber ground floor, and is often built in honeycomb brickwork to allow ventilation of the space under the floor.

Soaker: A metal sheet bent at a right-angle, part of the waterproof flashing of the junction of a tiled or slated roof abutting a wall.

Soffite: The underside of a building component such as a lintel or beam. A board fitted to the underside of the ends of rafters or flat roof joists.

Soft sand: Sand which includes fine silt or clay particles, which make it more suitable for making mortar or render than sharp sand.

Softwood: Timber from a coniferous tree, i.e. most of the timber used in construction. Softwood timber comes in a variety of grades, the most common for structural use being classes C16 (for general use) and C24 (stronger timber with fewer knots and defects). (Fr. bois (m) resineux).

Soil: In engineering, the soil is all the solid materials below the earth’s surface, including rock, sand, clay and so on.

Soil Mechanics: The science of the strength of soil.

Soldier: A vertical member in a retaining-wall, especially in temporary works.

Sole plate: A timber placed on the floor as the base for a partition.

Special (brick): A brick specially made in a non-standard shape.

Special foundations: Defined, in the Party Wall act, as foundations incorporating steel.

Spine wall or partition: In traditional domestic construction, a load bearing partition between the front and rear rooms of the house. It supports the upper floors and, usually, the roof.

Splice: A steelwork connection for joining (for example) two lengths of column to form a longer column. Beams can also be spliced, but the splice must not, if possible, be in the middle of the beam where the bending moment is greatest.


Springing: The masonry supporting an arch.


Square: Rectangular, or at a right angle; the tool used for checking rectangularity.


Square hollow section: A structural steel section in the shape of a square tube.


Squint: A special brick for use on a corner which is not a right-angle.


Stanchion: Steel column.


Standard: A vertical tube in scaffolding.


Steel: A metal based on iron, with the addition of carefully defined quantities of carbon and other elements to produce a metal with specific qualities. Structural steel is used for steel frames and is weldable and easily cut and shaped. Steel reinforcement (qv) is designed to be cut and bent to shape. Modern steel use dates from the invention of the Bessemer converter, and the modern product differs from the older types of steel from which weapons were made. (Fr. acier, m)


Steel angle: A structural steel component, the cross section of which is L-shaped.


Steelfixer: A worker who specialises in placing reinforcement for reinforced concrete.


Stepped flashing: Metal flashing cut in a stepped pattern to waterproof the junction of a tiled or slated roof with a brick wall.


Stock brick: The traditional handmade brick without a frog, made by moulding clay in a wooden mould or ‘stock’. stockbricks (1K)


Strain: The amount by which something has changed length, measured as a percentage of its original length.


Strap: A component, usually steel, installed to ensure that walls are connected to and restrained by floors.


Stress: Force divided by area, measured in (for example) Newtons per square millimetre, or pounds per square foot.


Stress graded: (Of timber) tested and marked with a strength grade. The two grades of softwood most used in construction are C16 or General Structural grade, and C24 or Special Structural grade. stress graded timber


Stretcher: A brick whose longest side is visible on the surface of the wall. See header.


Stretcher bond: A brickwork bond consisting only of stretchers, suitable for half-brick thick walls and cavity walls.


Stringer: Angled structural beam supporting the treads and risers of a staircase.


Strike: Dismantle (scaffold or falsework).


Struck and weathered pointing: Finished with a sloping surface, recessed slightly at the top and protruding slightly at the bottom of the joint.


Structural Engineering: A branch of engineering dealing with structures, such as buildings and bridges. In the UK structural engineers became distinguished from Civil Engineers when they started to specialise in the new structural material reinforced concrete in the early 20th century, although they soon began to work in all structural materials.


Structural glass: Glass used in situations where it will or may support more than just its own weight. Glass balustrades, stairs and floor panels are becoming common.


Structural steelwork: A frame of steel sections supporting other parts of the structure.


Stucco: Rendering shaped and painted to resemble ashlar stonework.


Stud: A timber post in a studwork partition or in traditional timber-framed construction. There are also steel studs made of lightweight galvanized steel. studs (1K)


Studwork: A type of partition formed from studs at close intervals, traditionally clad with lath and plaster, now with plasterboard.


Subsidence: A downwards movement, especially a movement of foundations. The term is most often used to describe the movement of foundations on clay soil, when the soil shrinks due to becoming drier. (Fr. affaissement, m).


Sulphate/sulfate: Sulphates in soil or ground water can damage cement- based blocks, mortar or concrete. Special sulphate-resisting cement can be used to resist it. Sulphates in the ground are often a result of industrial pollution.


Systeme international (S.I.): The system of units, based on the metre, kilogram and second, used by engineers in the UK and elsewhere. The metre and kilogram are divided and multiplied by 1000 to make larger and smaller units. Many think it is an odd system which is based on a unit, the kilogram, which is itself a multiple of another unit, being 1000 grams.




Temporary bench mark: A levelling base point of known level. See bench mark.


Temporary works: Propping or shoring to enable the permanent works to be carried out.


Tension: A pulling force, such as that experienced by a cable, or in the bottom flange of a beam with a load on it.


Theodolite: An optical instrument used by land surveyors for surveying and by engineers and builders for setting-out lines and angles on the ground.


Tie: Any member which provides a tensile force to tie two other members together, especially, the bottom horizontal member of a roof truss, and (in a steel framed structure) steel beams whose main function is to tie columns together.


Tile: Ceramic unit for wall decoration or roof weathering.


Timber: Wood suitable for use in construction. In the UK it is usually softwood. (Fr bois, m).


Timber connector: Various kinds of steel fixings designed to make high-strength connections in timber construction.


Timber-framed: Construction in which the main load bearing elements are timber. Traditional timber-framed or ‘half-timbered’ houses are one example; modern timber framing uses timber load bearing panels made of studwork clad with plywood. timber framed house


Ton: Unit of mass or weight in the imperial system of weights. The UK or ‘long’ ton is equal to 20 hundredweights, 2240 pounds, or 1016 kg. In the US a ‘short ton’ of 2000 pounds is used.


Tonne: Unit of mass in the SI system. Equal to 1000 kilograms.


Top plate: A horizontal timber on top of a partition to receive the floor or roof timbers.


Tower crane: A crane with the jib mounted at the top of a tower, to give clearance over obstructions. They may be static or tracked, with a rigid or ‘luffing’ (vertically hinged) jib. They are usually electrically operated.


Town planning or town and country planning: The original name of the discipline and process which is these days generally known simply as planning.


Trade: The various types of construction workers: electricians, carpenters, joiners and such like.


Tread: A single step of a staircase.


Transome: A component of scaffolding: a horizontal tube supporting the boards. Also a horizontal member in joinery, for example the part of the frame between an upper and lower window.


Tree preservation order: An order under planning regulations, protecting a tree or group of trees from damage.


Trimmer: A joist which carries extra loads, for example, those due to an opening or a partition. Trimmers should be stronger than the normal joists. Traditionally they were thicker, these days extra strength is achieved by bolting two or more timbers together.


Truss: An arrangement of steel or timber components designed to span across a large distance to support a roof, floor or bridge.


Trussed rafters: Wooden trusses, usually triangular in shape, spanning between the external walls at 600mm centres or thereabouts to form a roof. They are cheap and easy to use for new roofs and do not require internal support from beams or partitions, but their disadvantage is that they restrict the use of the loft space more than conventional ‘cut timber’ roofs. trussed rafters (2K)


Tuck pointing: A difficult and expensive form of pointing. The joint is flush pointed with mortar coloured to match the bricks, and a very thin false joint is cut into the mortar and pointed in lime putty of a contrasting colour. Very difficult to get done today – the art is nearly lost.


Tuscan order: The plainest of the five classical orders of architecture, similar to the Doric but with a plain rather than fluted shaft. tuscan order (1K)


Tusk tenon joint: Traditional timber connection, typically used to connect trimmers around a hearth. The tenon extends through the main joist and is fitted with a wooden wedge to stop the joint from opening up. In modern construction a steel bracket would be used instead, unless one were restoring a historical building. tusktenon (1K)




Underpinning: Making existing foundations deeper (by extending them downwards). Usually done with mass concrete but other high- and low-tech methods are available.


Universal Beam: A standardised steel component which is I-shaped in cross section. Over 70 different sizes are available in two main steel grades. The Universal Beam and Universal Column were introduced in the late 1950s and were based on American patterns, and rolled in new ‘universal’ rolling mills. They replaced a range of sections which had been developed by various UK manufacturers over the preceding century.


Universal Column: A standardised steel component which is H-shaped in cross-section. About 30 different sizes are available in the UK, in two main steel grades. The same comments apply as to Universal Beam above. universal column




Valley: The meeting of two roof planes at an internal angle; the rafter which forms the junction.


Valuation: Building work is valued monthly by the Quantity Surveyor or Contract Administrator.


Vanity unit: Washbasin built in to the top of a cupboard.


Variation: A change to the building contract due to an instruction issued by the Contract Administrator.


Vault: An ancient form of construction consisting of masonry formed in an arched shape. Vaults at Greenwich


Vermiculated: Of stonework: carved in a random pattern fancifully comparable with the appearance of worms.


Vermiculite: An expanded mineral used as lightweight aggregate in concrete and other filling applications.


Vierendeel girder: A type of truss consisting of vertical and horizontal members arranged like a ladder on its side.


Voussoir: One of the stones or bricks forming an arch.





Waling: Horizontal steel or timber member in a retaining-wall, especially in temporary works.


Wane: A defect of timber. The timber section is too small because it was cut too close to the edge of the trunk.


Web: The middle plate of an I-beam, H-beam or channel. The web connects the two flanges, and resists shear forces.


Weight: A force resulting from the effect of gravity on a mass.


Welding: A technique for joining steel components by the deposition of small drops of molten steel which bonds to the parent metal.


Wind load: Engineers have made great efforts to understand wind loading since the Tay Bridge disaster in 1879.


Withes: (Pronounced whiffs)The usually half-brick thick dividers between flues in a chimney.


Woodscrew: Threaded fastener for use in wood.




Yard: The principal unit of length in the Imperial system; three feet, equal to 914.4mm.


Young’s modulus: A measure of the elasticity of a material. Defined as stress divided by strain; see modulus of elasticity.

Exterior insulation finishing system #architecture

Isolamento esterno e sistemi di finitura ( EIFS ) è una classe generale di cuscinetti sistemi Involucro edilizio non-carico che fornisce le pareti esterne con un isolamento, resistente all’acqua, superficie finita in un sistema integrato di materiale composito. In Europa, sistemi simili a EIFS sono noti come Muro sistema esterno di isolamento (EWIS) e Rivestimenti Esterni sistema di isolamento termico (ETICS).

EIFS è stato in uso dal 1960 in Nord America, in primo luogo per gli edifici in muratura, ma dal 1990 la maggior parte degli edifici di legno incorniciata. EIFS offre un eccellente isolamento, dettagli architettonici, durata e bassa manutenzione. C’è una storia di problemi di infiltrazioni d’acqua provocando danni agli edifici con conseguente cause legali costose in modo che i sistemi raccomandati comprendono un piano di drenaggio per far scolare l’acqua verso il basso e da dietro il rivestimento.

Storia di EIFS

EIFS è stato sviluppato in Europa dopo la seconda guerra mondiale ed è stato inizialmente utilizzato per il retrofit muratura pareti.

EIFS iniziato ad essere utilizzato in Nord America nel 1960, e divenne molto popolare nel 1970 metà a causa dell’embargo petrolifero e l’aumento conseguente interesse nei sistemi a parete ad alta efficienza energetica, come EIFS fornisce. L’uso di EIFS over perno -e-guaina inquadramento anziché su solide mura è una tecnica utilizzata principalmente in Nord America.

EIFS ora è utilizzato in tutto il Nord America, ma anche in molti altri settori in tutto il mondo, soprattutto in Europa e nel Pacifico.

In Nord America, EIFS è stata inizialmente utilizzata quasi esclusivamente commerciali, edifici in muratura. Nel 1997 EIFS rappresentavano circa il 4% del residenziale raccordo mercato e il 12% del mercato raccordo commerciale.

Alla fine del 1980 problemi sono iniziati in via di sviluppo a causa di perdite d’acqua negli edifici EIFS-vestite. Questo ha creato una polemica internazionale e numerose cause legali. I critici sostengono che, pur non intrinsecamente più inclini alla penetrazione dell’acqua rispetto ad altre finiture esterne, sistemi EIFS barriera di tipo (sistemi non gestiti acqua) non consentono l’acqua che penetra l’involucro edilizio di fuggire.

L’industria EIFS ha sempre sostenuto che la EIFS sé non perdeva, ma piuttosto scarsa maestria e cattivo dettagli architettonici al perimetro del EIFS era quello che stava causando i problemi. I codici di costruzione hanno reagito incaricando EIFS con un sistema di drenaggio su legno edifici a struttura e ulteriori ispezioni in loco.

La maggior parte delle polizze di assicurazione casa copertura EIFS e sistemi EIFS simili.

Anche se ci sono alcuni casi in cui le compagnie di assicurazione non possono offrire la copertura per EIFS diverse aziende fanno.

Inoltre, alcuni proprietari degli impianti hanno scoperto che i sistemi EIFS installati a livelli più bassi di costruzione sono soggette ad atti di vandalismo, come il materiale è morbido e possono essere scheggiati o scolpite causando danni significativi. In presenza di queste preoccupazioni specificando pesante oncia rete di rinforzo può essere la risposta, queste specifiche possono drasticamente aumentare la durata del sistema EIFS.

Installazione EIFS è risultato essere un fattore che contribuisce in miliardi di dollari multi-problema noto come ” crisi condominio Leaky “nel sud-ovest British Columbia e il ” case Leaky “questione in Nuova Zelanda che è emerso separatamente negli anni 1980 e 1990.


Negli Stati Uniti l’ International Building Code e ASTM International definiscono Esterno isolamento e finitura del sistema (EIFS) come un cuscinetto nonload, esterno sistema di rivestimento a parete composta da un pannello isolante collegato sia con adesivo o meccanico, o di entrambi, al substrato; una mano di fondo integralmente rinforzata; e una finitura con rivestimento protettivo strutturato.

EIFS con drenaggio , un altro sistema EIFS, è il metodo predominante EIFS oggi applicata. Come suggerisce il nome, EIFS con scarico fornisce un modo per l’umidità che possono accumularsi nella cavità della parete di evacuare. [11]

Anche se spesso chiamato “stucco sintetico”, EIFS non è stucco . Stucco tradizionale è un materiale secolare che consiste di aggregato, un legante, e acqua, ed è un materiale duro denso spessore,, non-isolante. EIFS è un rivestimento murale sintetico leggero che include schiuma isolante di plastica e sottili rivestimenti sintetici. Ci sono anche stucchi speciali che utilizzano materiali sintetici ma nessun isolamento, e questi non sono EIFS . Un esempio comune è ciò che è chiamato un cappotto stucco , che è una spessa, stucco sintetico applicato in un unico strato (stucco tradizionale viene applicato in 3 strati).

EIFS sono sistemi proprietari di un particolare produttore EIFS e sono costituiti da componenti specifici. EIFS non sono generici prodotti realizzati con materiali diversi comuni. Per funzionare correttamente, EIFS va architettonico progettato e installato come sistema. I materiali e l’installazione modalità specificate da diversi produttori EIFS non sono compatibili e non devono essere usati in modo intercambiabile in nuova costruzione o riparazione.

La definizione tecnica di una EIFS non include inquadratura muro, rivestimento, scossaline, calafataggio, barriere d’acqua, finestre, porte, e gli altri componenti della parete. Tuttavia, alcuni architetti hanno iniziato specificando scossaline, sigillanti , e dispositivi di fissaggio cablaggio come una parte del campo di applicazione EIFS del lavoro, essenzialmente richiedendo EIFS imprenditori di svolgere quel lavoro pure. La norma del consenso nazionale tecnico per la definizione di un EIFS, come pubblicato da ASTM International non comprende lampeggiante o sigillanti come parte del EIFS. Molti dei produttori EIFS hanno i loro dati standard, che mostrano le condizioni edilizie tipiche per scossaline porte e finestre, giunti di controllo, interni / angoli esterni, penetrazioni, e giunti in materiali diversi che devono essere seguite per tale garanzia del produttore.

Installazione EIFS

EIFS è tipicamente attaccata alla faccia esterna delle pareti esterne con un adesivo (cementizi o base acrilica) o dispositivi di fissaggio meccanici. Gli adesivi sono comunemente usati per fissare EIFS per cartongesso, pannelli di cemento, o supporti in calcestruzzo. EIFS è fissato con fissaggi meccanici (appositamente progettati per questa applicazione) se installate su housewraps (barriere climatiche foglio-bene), come sono comunemente utilizzati su rivestimenti di legno. La superficie di muro di sostegno deve essere continuo (non “framing aperto”), e piatto.

EIFS dal 2000

EIFS oggi sono uno dei rivestimenti più collaudati e ben studiate nel settore delle costruzioni. La ricerca, condotta dalla Oak Ridge National Laboratory e sostenuto dal Dipartimento per l’energia, ha convalidato che EIFS sono il “rivestimento eseguendo meglio” [12] in materia di controllo termico e l’umidità rispetto al mattone, stucco, e cementizi fibra raccordo. Inoltre EIFS è in piena conformità edilizie moderni che enfatizzano risparmio energetico attraverso l’uso di CI (isolamento continuo) ed una barriera d’aria continuo. Entrambi questi componenti sono costruiti in prodotti EIFS di oggi per fornire il massimo risparmio energetico, ridotto impatto ambientale durante la vita della struttura, e migliorato IAQ, Indoor Air Quality. Insieme a questi vantaggi funzionali e dispongono di colore praticamente illimitata, consistenza, e scelte decorative per migliorare frenare ricorso e godimento di quasi ogni casa o una struttura. [13]

EIFS prima del 2000 era un sistema di barriera, ovvero il sistema EIFS stesso era la barriera tempo. Dopo il 2000 l’industria EIFS introdotto la barriera d’aria / umidità che risiede dietro la schiuma. In uno studio condotto dal Dipartimento di Ufficio Energia della Scienza – Oak Ridge Nazionale Laboratory è stato accertato che la migliore barriera aria / umidità era una barriera fluida. Il laboratorio nazionale di Oak Ridge, ATLANTA, 28 ottobre 2006 – EIFS “ha superato tutti gli altri muri in termini di umidità mantenendo prestazioni termiche superiori.” L’Istituto Nazionale di Standard e Tecnologie (NIST) hanno valutato le 5 fasi del ciclo di vita di impatto ambientale di EIFS fianco mattone, alluminio, stucco, vinile, e cedro. A seconda di una serie di condizioni specifiche del sito e del progetto, EIFS ha il potenziale per risparmiare denaro in costi di costruzione e di contribuire alle operazioni a risparmio energetico e responsabilità ambientale essendo correttamente progettati ed eseguiti.

EIFS hanno superato una serie di test di incendio che vanno da resistenza a infiammabilità, che includono:. ASTM E 119, NFPA 268, NFPA 285, ANSI FM 4880 [14]

Composizione e tipi di EIFS

Tipi di parete Sistemi di isolamento (EWIS)

Tipi di EIFS sono definite da lì materiali e la presenza / assenza di un piano di drenaggio. Il EIFS Industry Manufacturers Association (EIMA) definisce due classi di EIFS, classe PB (polimero a base) identificato come PB EISF e Classe PM (polimero modificato) identificato come PM EIFS.

PB EIFS è il tipo più comune in Nord America e in polistirene espanso utilizzato storicamente (EPS) isolamento aderito al substrato con maglia della vetroresina incorporati in un nominale 1/16 di pollice (1,6 mm) strato di base in grado di ricevere ulteriori livelli di rete e strato di base per resistenza all’urto forte. Altri tipi di pannelli isolanti possono includere polyisocyanurate .

PM EIFS utilizzare isolante in polistirene estruso (XEPS), e una spessa mano di fondo cementizio applicato su fibra di vetro collegato meccanicamente rete di armatura. Il sistema ha giunti simili a stucco tradizionale. PM EIFS sono evoluti per includere diversi materiali isolanti e cappotti di base.

Il tipo più comune di EIFS usato oggi è il sistema che comprende una cavità di drenaggio, che permette ogni e qualsiasi umidità per uscire dal muro. EIFS con drenaggio consiste tipicamente dai seguenti componenti:

  • Una barriera opzionale acqua-resistivo (WRB) che copre il substrato
  • Un aereo di drenaggio tra il WRB e il pannello isolante che è più comunemente realizzato con nastri verticali di adesivo applicato sul WRB
  • Pannello isolante in genere realizzata in polistirene espanso (EPS) che è fissato con un adesivo o meccanicamente al supporto
  • Fibra di vetro di rinforzo rete incorporato nel rivestimento di base
  • Una mano di fondo resistente all’acqua che viene applicato sulla parte superiore dell’isolamento per servire come barriera meteo
  • Un cappotto di rivestimento che utilizza di colorfast e crack-resistente tecnologia di co-polimero acrilico.


Se è installato un EIFS con drenaggio, o EIFS gestiti acqua, una barriera resistente all’acqua (aka un WRB) prima installazione sul substrato (generalmente di vetro di fronte esterno di qualità di gesso guaina , oriented strand board (OSB) o compensato ). [ citazione necessaria ] La barriera all’umidità viene applicato all’intera superficie della parete con un nastro a rete su articolazioni e una membrana liquido applicato o un involucro protettivo come tyvek o feltro carta . Poi viene creata una cavità di scarico (di solito aggiungendo qualche spazio tra la schiuma e la WRB). Poi si aggiungono gli altri 3 strati, sopra descritte,. Questo tipo di EIFS è richiesto da molte zone codici di costruzione su costruzione della struttura in legno, ed è destinato a fornire un percorso per l’acqua accidentali che possono mettersi al EIFS con un percorso sicuro di nuovo verso l’esterno. Lo scopo è quello di escludere l’acqua da danneggiare la parete di sostegno.

Adesivi e finiture sono a base d’acqua, e, quindi, devono essere installati a temperature ben al di sopra di congelamento. Due tipi di adesivi sono utilizzati con EIFS: quelli che contengono cemento Portland (“cementizio”), o non hanno alcun cemento Portland (“cementata”). Adesivi che contengono cemento Portland indurire dalla reazione chimica del cemento con acqua. Adesivi e finiture che sono indurire cementata dall’evaporazione dell’acqua. Adesivi sono disponibili in due forme: la più comune è in un secchio di plastica come una pasta, a cui si aggiunge il cemento Portland e polveri secche in sacchi, a cui si aggiunge l’acqua. Finiture disponibili in un secchio di plastica, pronti per l’uso, come la vernice . Isolamento EIFS viene in singoli pezzi, di solito 2 ‘x 4’, in grandi sacchi. I pezzi sono tagliati per adattarsi alla parete in cantiere.

Aspetti legali

Sistemi EIFS sono state oggetto di diverse cause legali, soprattutto in relazione al processo di installazione e il fallimento del sistema che causa accumuli di umidità e conseguente crescita di muffe. Il caso più notevole riguardava l’ex San Martin, California tribunale. Questo caso è stato risolto per 12 milioni di dollari. [16]

Il problema di fondo alla base EIFS contenzioso era che EIFS è stato commercializzato come un sostituto conveniente per stucco. Stucco è costoso da installare perché deve essere applicato con cura da esperti artigiani e prende un mese per curare tra le mani. Appaltatori generali passati a EIFS perché doveva essere facile da installare con lavoro non specializzato o semi-qualificati e non rompere come stucco tradizionale sarà se non è curata adeguatamente. Sebbene EIFS se installato correttamente secondo le istruzioni del produttore non dovrebbe avere problemi di infiltrazioni d’acqua, molti GC scorciatoie utilizzando manodopera sufficientemente qualificata e anche omesso di sorvegliare adeguatamente il loro lavoro. A sua volta, migliaia di installazioni EIFS erano non conformi e ha subito gravi infiltrazioni d’acqua e muffa di conseguenza. Mentre l’industria EIFS ha costantemente cercato di addossare la colpa ai GC, l’industria delle costruzioni ha replicato che l’utilizzo di garzoni sindacalizzati professionali carpentieri a sua volta elimina il vantaggio di costo di EIFS su stucco, e che l’industria EIFS avrebbe dovuto prevedere la questione e di ingegneria dei suoi prodotti da inizio a essere installato da manodopera non qualificata o manodopera semi-qualificata (cioè, avrebbe dovuto essere un disegno fault-tolerant ).

Marketing di EIFS e l’industria EIFS ]

EIFS rappresenta circa il 10% del muro commerciale mercato rivestimento statunitense.

Ci sono diversi produttori decine EIFS in Nord America. Alcuni vendono a livello nazionale, e alcuni sono regionali nella loro area di attività di business. I produttori EIFS vendono i vari componenti del sistema (adesivi, rivestimenti, ecc) attraverso speciali distributori di prodotti edificio che a loro volta rivendono i componenti EIFS installatori locali.

I primi 5 produttori EIFS rappresentano circa il 90% del mercato statunitense. Questi produttori includono Dryvit Systems, STO Corp., BASF Sistemi Muro, Muro Maestro, e Parex.

EIFS dettagli architettonici

Un altro vantaggio di EIFS è la possibilità di aggiungere dettagli architettonici che sono composti degli stessi materiali. EIFS modanature o come vengono comunemente chiamati, modanature in stucco, sono disponibili in una grande varietà di forme e dimensioni. Essi sono ampiamente utilizzati in progetti commerciali / residenziali in Nord America e stanno guadagnando popolarità in tutto il mondo. I metodi di produzione hanno percorso una lunga strada fin dalla loro creazione, che permettono ai produttori di creare con grande efficienza in modo economicamente vantaggioso. La produzione di modanature in schiuma di architettura è stato recentemente presentato a come è fatto in onda su Channel Network Discovery.

Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut | #architecture #church

The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp (French: Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp), completed in 1954, is one of the finest examples of thearchitecture of Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and one of the most important examples of twentieth-century religious architecture. The chapel is a working religious building and is under the guardianship of the private foundation Association de l’Oeuvre de Notre-Dame du Haut.



Notre Dame du Haut is commonly thought of as a more extreme design of Le Corbusier’s late style. Commissioned by the Association de l’Oeuvre Notre Dame du Haut, the chapel is a simple design with two entrances, a main altar, and three chapels beneath towers. Although the building is small, it is powerful and complex. The chapel is the latest of chapels at the site. The previous chapel was completely destroyed there during World War II. The previous building was a 4th-century Christian chapel. At the time the new building was being constructed, Corbusier was not exactly interested in “Machine Age” architecture but he felt his style was more primitive and sculptural. Also, he realized when he visited the site that he could not use mechanized means of construction, because access was too difficult.

On January 17, 2014, Notre Dame du Haut became the target of a break-in.

A concrete collection box was thrown outside, and one of the stained-glass windows, also designed by Le Corbusier and the only one on the chapel to carry his signature, was broken.


The site is high on a hill near Belfort in eastern France. There had been a pilgrimage chapel on the site dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but it was destroyed during the Second World War.

After the war, it was decided to rebuild on the same site, in the hill of Bourlémont. The Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, a shrine for the Roman Catholic Church at Ronchamp, France was built for a reformist Church looking to continue its relevance. Warning against decadence, reformers within the Church at the time looked to renew its spirit by embracing modern art and architecture as representative concepts. Father Marie-Alain Couturier, who would also sponsor Le Corbusierfor the La Tourette commission, steered the unorthodox project to completion in 1954.

The chapel at Ronchamp is singular in Corbusier’s oeuvre, in that it departs from his principles of standardisation and the machine aesthetic, giving in instead to a site-specific response. By Le Corbusier’s own admission, it was the site that provided an irresistible genius loci for the response, with the horizon visible on all four sides of the hill and its historical legacy for centuries as a place of worship.

This historical legacy was woven in different layers into the terrain – from the Romans and sun-worshippers before them, to a cult of the Virgin in the Middle Ages, right through to the modern church and the fight against the German occupation. Le Corbusier also sensed a sacred relationship of the hill with its surroundings – the Jura mountains in the distance and the hill itself, dominating the landscape.

The nature of the site would result in an architectural ensemble that has many similarities with the Acropolis – starting from the ascent at the bottom of the hill to architectural and landscape events along the way, before finally terminating at the sanctus sanctorum itself – the chapel. You cannot see the building until you reach nearly the crest of the hill. From the top, magnificent vistas spread out in all directions.



The structure is made mostly of concrete and is comparatively small, enclosed by thick walls, with the upturned roof supported on columns embedded within the walls, like a sail billowing in the windy currents on the hill top. In the interior, the spaces left between the walls and roof and filled with clerestory windows, as well as the asymmetric light from the wall openings, serve to further reinforce the sacred nature of the space and reinforce the relationship of the building with its surroundings. The lighting in the interior is soft and indirect, from the clerestory windows and reflecting off the whitewashed walls of the chapels with projecting towers.

The structure is built mostly of concrete and stone, which was a remnant of the original chapel built on the hilltop site destroyed during World War II. Some have described Ronchamp as the first Post-Modernbuilding. It was constructed in the early 1950s.

The main part of the structure consists of two concrete membranes separated by a space of 6’11”, forming a shell which constitutes the roof of the building. This roof, both insulating and watertight, is supported by short struts, which form part of a vertical surface of concrete covered with “gunite” and which, in addition, brace the walls of old Vosges stone provided by the former chapel which was destroyed by the bombings. These walls which are without buttresses follow, in plan, the curvilinear forms calculated to provide stability to this rough masonry. A space of several centimeters between the shell of the roof and the vertical envelope of the walls furnishes a significant entry for daylight. The floor of the chapel follows the natural slope of the hill down towards the altar. Certain parts, in particular those upon which the interior and exterior altars rest, are of beautiful white stone from Bourgogne, as are the altars themselves. The towers are constructed of stone masonry and are capped by cement domes. The vertical elements of the chapel are surfaced with mortar sprayed on with a cement gun and then white-washed — both on the interior and exterior. The concrete shell of the roof is left rough, just as it comes from the formwork. Watertightness is effected by a built-up roofing with an exterior cladding of aluminium. The interior walls are white; the ceiling grey; the bench of African wood created by Savina; the communion bench is of cast iron made by the foundries of the Lure.

The south wall

The South wall of Ronchamp is a creature of its own. Rather than designing a straight, 50 cm thick concrete piece, Le Corbusier spent months trying to perfect the outside wall. What he came up with is a wall that starts out as a point on the east end, and expands to up to 10 feet thick its west side. As it moves from east to west, it curves towards the south.

To further expand his design’s complexity, Le Corbusier decided to make the windows of the wall extraordinary.

The openings slant towards their centers at varying degrees, thus letting in light at different angles.

The different-sized windows are scattered in an irregular pattern across the wall. Le Corbusier reportedly insisted that the shapes and patterns were not arbitrary, but derived from a proportional system based on the Golden Section.

Furthermore, the glass that closes the windows off is set at alternating depths. This glass is sometimes clear, but is often decorated with small pieces of stained glass in typical Corbusier colors: red, green, and yellow. These stained pieces radiate like rubies, emeralds, and amethysts, and act as the jewels of the already complex wall. After this extensive design, Le Corbusier decided not to make the southern partition a bearing wall. Instead, the building’s roof is supported by concrete columns that make it appear to float above the rest of the space.

In a final move of symbolism, Le Corbusier filled the inside of the wall with the rubble from the previous chapel that stood at the location. Thus the old church, and all of its history, would remain in the site.


Small pieces of stained glass are set deep within the walls, which are sometimes ten feet thick. The glass glows likes deep-set rubies and emeralds and amethysts and jewels of all colors.

Because it is a pilgrimage chapel, there are few people worshipping at most times. But on special feast days, large crowds of thousands will attend. To accommodate them, Le Corbusier also built an outside altar and pulpit, so the large crowds can sit or stand on a vast field on the top of the hill. A famous statue of the Virgin Mary, rescued from the ruins of the chapel destroyed during WWII, is encased in a special glass case in the wall, and it can be turned to face inward when the congregation is inside, or to face outward toward the visitors.


Much like the church at Sainte Marie de La Tourette, the roof of Notre Dame du Haut appears to float above the walls. This is possible, because it is supported by concrete columns, not the walls themselves. The effect produced allows a strip of light to enter the building, thus lighting the space further, and making the church feel more open.

This billowing concrete roof was planned to slope toward the back, where a fountain of abstract forms is placed on the ground. When it rains, the water comes pouring off the roof and down onto the raised, slanted concrete structures, creating a dramatic natural fountain.


In 2006, the convent for the Clarisses, or Poor Clares, decided to construct a building next to the chapel.

Le Corbusier himself had consulted with the Association de l’Oeuvre Notre Dame du Haut about adding a monastery, but concrete plans were never developed.

Following the initiative of the abbess, Sister Brigitte de Singly, the Poor Clares commissioned Renzo Piano; the association had considered several architects besides Piano, including Tadao Ando, Glenn Murcutt, and Jean Nouvel.

The project met great opposition when plans were unveiled in 2008. Architects like Richard Meier, Rafael Moneo, and Cesar Pelli signed an online petition denouncing the project.

The French Ministry of Culture, which is required to approve plans for changing cultural landmarks, approved Piano’s design.

In October 2011, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the papal envoy to France, came to bless the convent. Immersed in the vegetation of the Bourlemont hill, the monastery is composed of twelve 120 square-feet domestic units for the sisters with spaces for common living (a refectory and workshops), an oratory for religious pilgrims, and a lodge to host visitors.

The new visitors’ centre, also dug into the hill, forms the base of the convent, thus replacing a 1960s gatehouse that had obscured sight of the chapel from the town below and was removed in the process of construction.

The all-in budget of $13 million was realised through local government funding, charitable and religious donations, and the sale of the nuns’ former convent in Besançon.

Future-proofing #design #architecture


Future-proofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses of future events. Future-proofing is used in other industries such as electronics, medical industry, industrial design, and, more recently, in design for climate change. The principles of future-proofing are extracted from other industries and codified as a system for approaching an intervention in an historic building.

What is future-proofing?

In general, the term “future-proof” refers to the ability of something to continue to be of value into the distant future; that the item does not become obsolete.

The concept of future-proofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses of future events. This term is commonly found in electronics, data storage, and communications systems. It is also found in Industrial Design, computers, software, health care/medical, strategic sustainable development, strategic management consultancy and product design.

Study of the principles behind “future-proofing” both within the AEC industry and among outside industries can give vital information about the basis of future-proofing. This information can be distilled into several Principles which can be applied to a variety of areas.

Principles of future-proofing

Based on the sources reviewed above, there are several principles of future-proofing that can be determined. Future-proofing means:

  1. Not promote deterioration – do no harm. It is natural for all materials to deteriorate. Future-proof structures and products should not accelerate the deterioration of existing materials.
  2. Stimulate flexibility and adaptability. Future-proof interventions should not just allow flexibility and adaptability, but also stimulate it. Adaptability to the environment, uses, occupant needs, and future technologies is critical to the long service life of a historic building.
  3. Extend service life. Future-proof interventions in structures and products should help to make the building usable for the long-term future – not shorten the service life.
  4. Fortify against extreme weather and shortages of materials and energy. Future-proof interventions should prepare structures and products for the impacts of climate change by reducing energy consumption, reducing consumption of materials through durable material selections, and be able to be fortified against extreme natural events such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
  5. Increase durability and redundancy. Future-proof interventions should use equally durable building materials. Materials that deteriorate more quickly than the original materials require further interventions and shorten the service life.
  6. Reduce the likelihood of obsolescence. A future-proof structure or product should be able to continue to be used for centuries into the future. Take an active approach: regularly evaluate and review current status in terms of future service capacity. Scan the trends to provide a fresh perspective and determine how your historic building will respond to these trends.
  7. Consider long-term life-cycle benefits. Embodied energy in existing structures and products should be incorporated in environmental, economic, social, and cultural costs for any project.
  8. Incorporate local materials, parts and labor. The parts and materials used in future-proof structures and products should be available locally and installed by local labor. This means that the materials and manufacturing capabilities will be readily available in the future for efficient repairs.

Electronics and communications

In future-proof electrical systems buildings should have “flexible distribution systems to allow communication technologies to expand.”

Image-related processing software should be flexible, adaptable, and programmable to be able to work with several different potential media in the future as well as to handle increasing file sizes. Image-related processing software should also be scalable and embeddable – in other words, the use or place where the software is employed is variable and the software needs to accommodate the variable environment. Higher processing integration is required to support future computational requirements in image processing as well.

In wireless phone networks, future-proofing of the network hardware and software systems deployed become critical because they are so costly to deploy that it is not economically viable to replace each system when changes in the network operations occur. Telecommunications system designers focus heavily on the ability of a system to be reused and to be flexible in order to continue competing in the marketplace.

In 1998, teleradiology (the ability to send radiology images such as x-rays and CAT scans over the internet to a reviewing radiologist) was in its infancy. Doctors developed their own systems, aware that technology would change over time. They consciously included future-proof as one of the characteristics that their investment would need to have. To these doctors, future-proof meant open modular architecture and interoperability so that as technology advanced it would be possible to update the hardware and software modules within the system without disrupting the remaining modules. This draws out two characteristics of future-proofing that are important to the built environment: interoperability and the ability to be adapted to future technologies as they were developed.

Industrial design

In industrial design, future-proofing designs seek to prevent obsolescence by analyzing the decrease in desirability of products. Desirability is measured in categories such as function, appearance, and emotional value. The products with more functional design, better appearance, and which accumulate emotional value faster tend to be retained longer and are considered future-proof. Industrial design ultimately strives to encourage people to buy less by creating objects with higher levels of desirability. Some of the characteristics of future-proof products that come out of this study include a timeless nature, high durability, aesthetic appearances that capture and hold the interest of buyers. Ideally, as an object ages, its desirability is maintained or increases with increased emotional attachment. Products that fit into society’s current paradigm of progress, while simultaneously making progress, also tend to have increased desirability.Industrial design teaches that future-proof products are timeless, have high durability, and develop ongoing aesthetic and emotional attraction.

Utility systems

In one region of New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay, a study was conducted to determine what would be required to future-proof the regional economy with specific reference to the water system. The study specifically sought to understand the existing and potential water demand in the region as well as how this potential demand might change with climate change and more intense land use. This information was used to develop demand estimates that would inform the improvements to the regional water system. Future-proofing thus includes forward planning for future development and increased demands on resources. However, the study focuses on future demands almost exclusively and does not address other components of future-proofing such as contingency plans to handle disastrous damage to the system or durability of the materials in the system.

Climate change and energy conservation

The term “future-proofing” in relation to sustainable design began to be used in 2007. It has been used more often in sustainable design in relation to energy conservation to minimize the effects of future global temperature rise and/or rising energy costs. By far, the most common use of the term “future-proofing” is found in relation to sustainable design and energy conservation in particular. In this context, the term is usually referring to the ability of a structure to withstand impacts from future shortages in energy and resources, increasing world population, and environmental issues, by reducing the amount of energy consumption in the building. Understanding the use of “future-proofing” in this field assists in development of the concept of future-proofing as applied to existing structures.

In the realm of sustainable environmental issues, future-proof is used generally to describe the ability of a design to resist the impact of potential climate change due to global warming. Two characteristics describe this impact. First, “dependency on fossil fuels will be more or less completely eliminated and replaced by renewable energy sources.” Second, “Society, infrastructure and the economy will be well adapted to the residual impacts of climate change.”

In the design of low energy consuming dwellings, “buildings of the future should be sustainable, low-energy and able to accommodate social, technological, economic and regulatory changes, thus maximizing life cycle value.” The goal is to “reduce the likelihood of a prematurely obsolete building design.”

In Australia, research commissioned by the Health Infrastructure New South Wales explored “practical, cost-effective, design-related strategies for “future-proofing” the buildings of a major Australian health department.” This study concluded that “a focus on a whole life-cycle approach to the design and operation of health facilities clearly would have benefits.” By designing in flexibility and adaptability of structures, one may “defer the obsolescence and consequent need for demolition and replacement of many health facilities, thereby reducing overall demand for building materials and energy.”

The ability of a building’s structural system to accommodate projected climate changes and whether “non-structural [behavioral] adaptations might have a great enough effect to offset any errors from… …an erroneous choice of climate change projection.” The essence of the discussion is whether adjustments in the occupant’s behavior can future-proof the building against errors in judgment in estimates of the impacts of global climate change. There are clearly many factors involved and the paper does not go into them in exhaustive detail. However, it is clear that “soft adaptations” such as changes in behavior (such as turning lights off, opening windows for cooling) can have a significant impact on the ability of a building to continue to function as the environment around it changes. Thus adaptability is an important criteria in the concept of future-proofing” buildings. Adaptability is a theme that begins to come through in many of the other studies on future-proofing.

There are examples of sustainable technologies that can be used in existing buildings to take “advantage of up-to-date technologies in the enhancement of the energetic performance of buildings.” The intent is to understand how to follow the new European Energy Standards to attain the best in energy savings. The subject speaks to historic buildings and specifically of façade renewal, focusing on energy conservation. These technologies include “improvement of thermal and acoustic performance, solar shadings, passive solar energy systems, and active solar energy systems.” The main value of this study to future-proofing is not the specific technologies, but rather the concept of working with an existing façade by overlapping it rather than modifying the existing one. The employment of ventilated facades, double skin glass facades, and solar shadings take advantage of the thermal mass of existing buildings commonly found in Italy. These techniques not only work with thermal mass walls, but also protect damaged and deteriorating historic facades to varying degrees.


Architecture, engineering and construction

Use of the term “future-proofing” has been uncommon in the AEC industry, especially with relation to historic buildings until recently. In 1997, the MAFF laboratories at York, England were described in an article as “future-proof” by being flexible enough to adapt to developing rather than static scientific research. The standard building envelope and MEP services provided could be tailored for each type of research to be performed.

In 2009, “future-proof” was used in reference to “megatrends” that were driving education of planners in Australia.

A similar term, “fatigue proofing,” was used in 2007 to describe steel cover plates in bridge construction that would not fail due to fatigue cracking. In 2012, a New Zealand based organization outlined 8 principles of future-proof buildings: smart energy use, increased health and safety, increased life cycle duration, increased quality of materials and installation, increased security, increased sound control for noise pollution, adaptable spatial design, and reduced carbon footprint.

Another approach to future-proofing suggests that only in more extensive refurbishments to a building should future-proofing be considered. Even then, the proposed time horizon for future-proofing events is 15 to 25 years. The explanation for this particular time horizon for future-proof improvements is unclear.

This author believes that time horizons for future-proofing are much more dependent on the potential service life of the structure, the nature of the intervention, and several other factors. The result is that time horizons for future-proof interventions could vary from 15 years (rapidly changing technology interventions) to hundreds of years (major structural interventions).

In the valuation of real estate, there are three traditional forms of obsolescence which affect property values: physical, functional, and aesthetic. Physical obsolescence occurs when the physical material of the property deteriorates to the point where it needs to be replaced or renovated. Functional obsolescence occurs when the property is no longer capable of serving the intended use or function. Aesthetic obsolescence occurs when fashions change, when something is no longer in style. A potential fourth form has emerged as well: sustainable obsolescence. Sustainable obsolescence proposes to be a combination of the above forms in many ways. Sustainable obsolescence occurs when a property no longer meets one or more sustainable design goals.[17] Obsolescence is an important characteristic of future-proofing a property because it emphasizes the need for the property to continue to be viable. Though not explicitly stated, the shocks and stresses to a property in the future are one potential way in which a property may become not future-proof. It is also important to note that each form of obsolescence can be either curable or incurable. The separation of curable and incurable obsolescence is ill defined because the amount of effort one is willing to put into correcting it varies depending on several factors: people, time, budget, availability, etc.

However, the most informative realm within the AEC industry is the concept of resiliency. A new buzzword among preservationists and sustainable designers, resiliency has several clearly identified principles. In its common usage, “resilience” describes the ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed. In ecology, the term “resilience” the capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state.

The principles of a resilient built environment include:

  • Local materials, parts and labor
  • Low energy input
  • High capacity for future flexibility and adaptability of use
  • High durability and redundancy of building systems
  • Environmentally responsive design
  • Sensitivity and responsiveness to changes in constituent parts and environment
  • High level of diversity in component systems and features

One reasonable approach to future-proof sustainable cities is an integrated multi-disciplinary combination of mitigation and adaptation to raise the level of resilience of the city. In the context of urban environments, resilience is less dependent on an exact understanding of the future than on tolerance of uncertainty and broad programs to absorb the stresses that this environment might face. The scale of the context is important in this view: events are viewed as regional stresses rather than local. The intent for a resilient urban environment is to keep many options open, emphasize diversity in the environment, and perform long-range planning that accounts for external systemic shocks.

Options and diversity are strategies similar to ecological resilience discussed above. This approach again points out the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and diversity to future-proofing urban environments.

Historic buildings

The design of interventions in existing buildings which are not detrimental to the future of the building may be called “future-proofing.” Future-proofing includes the careful consideration of how “sustainable” alterations to historic structures affect the original historic material of the structure. This effect is significant for long service life structures in order to prevent them from deteriorating and being demolished. This effect is especially significant in designated structures where the intent is to do no harm to the historic fabric of the structure.

Historic buildings are particularly good candidates for future-proofing because they have already survived for 50 to 100 years or more. Given their performance to date and appropriate interventions, historic building structures are likely to be able to last for centuries. This durability is evident in the buildings of Europe and Asia which have survived centuries and millennia. Extension of the service life of our existing building stock through sensitive interventions reduces energy consumption, decreases material waste, retains embodied energy, and promotes a long-term relationship with our built environment that is critical to the future survival of the human species on this planet.

Future-proofing of designated historic structures adds a level of complexity to the concepts of future-proofing in other industries as described above. All interventions on historic structures must comply with the Secretary’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The degree of compliance and the Standard selected may vary depending on jurisdiction, type of intervention, significance of the structure, and the nature of the intended interventions. The underlying principle is that no harm is done to the structure in the course of the intervention which would damage the structure or make it unavailable to future generations. In addition, it is important that the historic portions of the structure be able to be understood and comprehended apart from the newer interventions.

Ludwig #Mies van der Rohe | #Barcelona Pavilion |#architecture

The Barcelona Pavilion (Catalan: Pavelló alemany; Spanish: Pabellón alemán; “German Pavilion”), designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain. This building was used for the official opening of the German section of the exhibition.
It is an important building in the history of modern architecture, known for its simple form and its spectacular use of extravagant materials, such as marble, red onyx and travertine. The same features of minimalism and spectacular can be applied to the prestigious furniture specifically designed for the building, among which the iconic Barcelona chair. It has inspired many important modernist buildings, including Michael Manser’s Capel Manor House in Kent.


Mies was offered the commission of this building in 1928 after his successful administration of the 1927 Werkbund exhibition in Stuttgart. The German Republic entrusted Mies with the artistic management and erection of not only the Barcelona Pavilion, but for the buildings for all the German sections at the 1929 International Exhibition. However, Mies had severe time constraints—he had to design the Barcelona Pavilion in less than a year—and was also dealing with uncertain economic conditions.

In the years following World War I, Germany started to turn around. The economy started to recover after the 1924 Dawes Plan. The pavilion for the International Exhibition was supposed to represent the new Weimar Germany: democratic, culturally progressive, prospering, and thoroughly pacifist; a self-portrait through architecture.

The Commissioner, Georg von Schnitzler said it should give “voice to the spirit of a new era”. This concept was carried out with the realization of the “Free plan” and the “Floating roof”.


Mies’s response to the proposal by von Schnitzler was radical. After rejecting the original site because of aesthetic reasons, Mies agreed to a quiet site at the narrow side of a wide, diagonal axis, where the pavilion would still offer viewpoints and a route leading to one of the exhibition’s main attractions, the Poble Espanyol.

The pavilion was going to be bare, no trade exhibits, just the structure accompanying a single sculpture and purpose-designed furniture (the Barcelona Chair). This lack of accommodation enabled Mies to treat the Pavilion as a continuous space; blurring inside and outside. “The design was predicated on an absolute distinction between structure and enclosure—a regular grid of cruciform steel columns interspersed by freely spaced planes”.

However, the structure was more of a hybrid style, some of these planes also acted as supports.

The floor plan is very simple. The entire building rests on a plinth of travertine. A southern U-shaped enclosure, also of travertine, helps form a service annex and a large water basin. The floor slabs of the pavilion project out and over the pool—once again connecting inside and out. Another U-shaped wall on the opposite side of the site also forms a smaller water basin. This is where the statue by Georg Kolbe sits. The roof plates, relatively small, are supported by the chrome-clad, cruciform columns. This gives the impression of a hovering roof. Robin Evans said that the reflective columns appear to be struggling to hold the “floating” roof plane down, not to be bearing its weight.

Mies wanted this building to become “an ideal zone of tranquillity” for the weary visitor, who should be invited into the pavilion on the way to the next attraction. Since the pavilion lacked a real exhibition space, the building itself was to become the exhibit. The pavilion was designed to “block” any passage through the site, rather, one would have to go through the building. Visitors would enter by going up a few stairs, and due to the slightly sloped site, would leave at ground level in the direction of the Poble Espanyol. The visitors were not meant to be led in a straight line through the building, but to take continuous turnabouts. The walls not only created space, but also directed visitor’s movements. This was achieved by wall surfaces being displaced against each other, running past each other, and creating a space that became narrower or wider.

Another unique feature of this building is the exotic materials Mies chooses to use. Plates of high-grade stone materials like veneers of Tinos verde antico marble and golden onyx as well as tinted glass of grey, green, white, as well as translucent glass, perform exclusively as spatial dividers.

Because this was planned as an exhibition pavilion, it was intended to exist only temporarily. The building was torn down in early 1930, not even a year after it was completed. However, thanks to black-and-white photos and original plans, a group of Spanish architects reconstructed the pavilion permanently between 1983 and 1986.


The Pavilion was not only a pioneer for construction forms with a fresh, disciplined understanding of space, but also for modelling new opportunities for an association of free art and architecture. Mies placed Georg Kolbe’s Alba (“Dawn”)[4] in the small water basin, leaving the larger one all the more empty. The sculpture also ties into the highly reflective materials Mies used—he chose the place where these optical effects would have the strongest impact; the building offers multiple views of Alba. “From now on, in the sense of equality for juxtaposing building and visual work, sculptures were no longer to be applied retrospectively to the building, but rather to be a part of the spatial design, to help define and interpret it. To the day, one of the most notable examples is the Barcelona Pavilion”.


#CANADA | MasterFormat

MasterFormat is a standard for organizing specifications and other written information for commercial and institutional building projects in the U.S. and Canada.
Sometimes referred to as the “Dewey Decimal System” of building construction, MasterFormat is a product of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC). It provides a master list of Divisions, and Section numbers with associated titles within each Division, to organize information about a facility’s construction requirements and associated activities.

MasterFormat is used throughout the construction industry to format specifications for construction contract documents. The purpose of this format is to assist the user to organize information into distinct groups when creating contract documents, and to assist the user searching for specific information in consistent locations. Information contained in MasterFormat is organized in a standardized outline format within 50 Divisions (16 Divisions pre-2004). Each Division is subdivided into a number of Sections.

Related Organizational Formats

SectionFormat is a standard for organizing information within each Section. A Section is divided into three Parts—”general,” “products,” and “execution.” Each Part is further organized into a system of Articles and Paragraphs.

A relatively new strategy to classify the built environment, named OmniClass, incorporates the work results classification in its Table 22 Work Results.


Standardizing the presentation of such information improves communication among all parties involved in construction projects. That helps the project team deliver structures to owners according to their requirements, timelines, and budgets. An indication of the widespread acceptance of MasterFormat is that the ASTM standard for sustainability assessment of building products relies on MasterFormat to organize the data.

MasterFormat is an integral component of the SpecsIntact system. SpecsIntact (Specifications Kept Intact), is an automated specifications processing system for preparing certain government facility construction projects using standard master specifications, called Master Text or Masters, supplied by each of three government agencies. SpecsIntact was developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and designed for use by engineers, architects, interior designers, specification writers, project managers and construction managers. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has also adopted SpecsIntact as their standard specifications system, greatly facilitating the effort to standardize construction specifications throughout these agencies.

These services utilize MasterFormat from UFGS (United Facilities Guide Specification) sections found on the Whole Building Design Guide website.

After World War II, building construction specifications began to expand, as more advanced materials and choices were made available.

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) was founded in 1948, and began to address the organization of specifications into a numbering system. In 1963, they published a format for construction specifications, with 16 major divisions of work. A 1975 CSI publication used the term MasterFormat. The last CSI MasterFormat publication to use the 16 divisions was in 1995, and this is no longer supported by CSI. In November 2004, MasterFormat expanded from 16 Divisions to 50 Divisions, reflecting innovations in the construction industry and expanding the coverage to a larger part of the construction industry. Updates were published in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

Current MasterFormat Divisions (April 2014)
The current MasterFormat Divisions are:


Division 00 — Procurement and Contracting Requirements

General Requirements Subgroup

Division 01 — General Requirements
Facility Construction Subgroup

Division 02 — Existing Conditions (Ex. Alterations to existing natural conditions)
Division 03 — Concrete (Ex. Footings)
Division 04 — Masonry (Ex. Concrete block and brick work)
Division 05 — Metals (Ex. Steel framing)
Division 06 — Wood, Plastics, and Composites (Ex. House framing)
Division 07 — Thermal and Moisture Protection (Ex. Insulation and water barriers)
Division 08 — Openings (Ex. Doors, windows, and louvers)
Division 09 — Finishes
Division 10 — Specialties
Division 11 — Equipment
Division 12 — Furnishings
Division 13 — Special Construction
Division 14 — Conveying Equipment
Facility Services Subgroup:

Division 21 — Fire Suppression
Division 22 — Plumbing
Division 23 — Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning
Division 25 — Integrated Automation
Division 26 — Electrical
Division 27 — Communications
Division 28 — Electronic Safety and Security
Site and Infrastructure Subgroup:

Division 31 — Earthwork
Division 32 — Exterior Improvements
Division 33 — Utilities
Division 34 — Transportation
Division 35 — Waterway and Marine
Process Equipment Subgroup:

Division 40 — Process Interconnections
Division 41 — Material Processing and Handling Equipment
Division 42 — Process Heating, Cooling, and Drying Equipment
Division 43 — Process Gas and Liquid Handling, Purification and Storage Equipment
Division 44 — Pollution and Waste Control Equipment
Division 45 — Industry-Specific Manufacturing Equipment
Division 46 — Water and Wastewater Equipment
Division 48 — Electrical Power Generation
Pre-2012 MasterFormat Divisions[edit]

Same as MasterFormat 2014, except the following:

Division 40 — Process Integration

Before November 2004, MasterFormat was composed of 16 Divisions:

Division 1 — General Requirements
Division 2 — Site Construction
Division 3 — Concrete
Division 4 — Masonry (Ex. Concrete block)
Division 5 — Metals (Ex. Beams)
Division 6 — Wood and Plastics
Division 7 — Thermal and Moisture Protection
Division 8 — Doors and Windows
Division 9 — Finishes
Division 10 — Specialties
Division 11 — Equipment
Division 12 — Furnishings
Division 13 — Special Construction
Division 14 — Conveying Systems
Division 15 — Mechanical (Ex. Plumbing and HVAC)
Division 16 — Electrical

Same as MasterFormat 1995 except the following:

Division 2 — Sitework


External links

USA | #International #Building #Code (IBC)

The International Building Code (IBC) is a model building code developed by the International Code Council (ICC). It has been adopted throughout most of the United States.

Since the early 1900s, the system of building regulations in the United States was based on model building codes developed by three regional model code groups. The codes developed by the Building Officials Code Administrators International (BOCA) were used on the East Coast and throughout the Midwest of the United States, while the codes from the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) were used in the Southeast and the codes published by the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) covered the West Coast and across to most of the Midwest. Although regional code development has been effective and responsive to the regulatory needs of the local jurisdictions, by the early 1990s it became obvious that the country needed a single coordinated set of national model building codes. The nation’s three model code groups decided to combine their efforts and in 1994 formed the International Code Council (ICC) to develop codes that would have no regional limitations.

After three years of extensive research and development, the first edition of the International Building Code was published in 1997. The code was patterned on three legacy codes previously developed by the organizations that constitute ICC. By the year 2000, ICC had completed the International Codes series and ceased development of the legacy codes in favor of their national successor.

Legacy codes

BOCA National Building Code (BOCA/NBC) by the Building Officials Code Administrators International (BOCA)
Uniform Building Code (UBC) by the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO)
Standard Building Code (SBC) by the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI)
Competing codes and final adoption[edit]
The National Fire Protection Association, initially, joined ICC in a collective effort to develop the International Fire Code (IFC). This effort however fell apart at the completion of the first draft of the document. Subsequent efforts by ICC and NFPA to reach agreement on this and other documents were unsuccessful, resulting in a series of disputes between the two organizations. After several failed attempts to find common ground with the ICC, NFPA withdrew from participation in development of the International Codes and joined with International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Western Fire Chiefs Association to create an alternative set of codes. First published in 2002, the code set named the Comprehensive Consensus Codes, or C3, includes the NFPA 5000 building code as its centerpiece and the companion codes such as the National Electrical Code, NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, UPC, UMC, and NFPA 1. Unlike the IBC, the NFPA 5000 conformed to ANSI-established policies and procedures for the development of voluntary consensus standards.

The NFPA’s move to introduce a competing building standard received strong opposition from powerful trade groups such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA), BOMA International and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Subsequent to unsuccessful attempts to encourage peaceful cooperation and resolution between NFPA and ICC on their codes disputes, a number of organizations, including AIA, BOMA and two dozen commercial real estate associations, founded the Get It Together coalition, which repeatedly urged NFPA to abandon code development related to NFPA 5000 and to work with ICC to integrate the other NFPA codes and standards into the ICC family of codes.

Initially, California adopted the NFPA 5000 codes as a baseline for the future California Building Code, but later rescinded the decision when Gov. Davis was recalled from office and Gov Schwarzenegger was elected. Upon his election, Gov. Schwarzenegger rescinded directive to use NFPA 5000, and California adopted the IBC. Adopting NFPA 5000 would cause a disparity between California and the majority of other states which had adopted IBC; not to mention, the legacy ICBO started in California and was headquartered in Whittier, CA.[1]


A large portion of the International Building Code deals with fire prevention. It differs from the related International Fire Code in that the IBC addresses fire prevention in regard to construction and design and the fire code addresses fire prevention in regard to the operation of a completed and occupied building. For example, the building code sets criteria for the number, size and location of exits in the design of a building while the fire code requires the exits of a completed and occupied building to be unblocked. The building code also deals with access for the disabled and structural stability (including earthquakes). The International Building Code applies to all structures in areas where it is adopted, except for one and two family dwellings (see International Residential Code).

Parts of the code reference other codes including the International Plumbing Code, the International Mechanical Code, the National Electric Code, and various National Fire Protection Association standards. Therefore, if a municipality adopts the International Building Code, it also adopts those parts of other codes referenced by the IBC. Often, the plumbing, mechanical, and electric codes are adopted along with the building code.

The code book itself (2000 edition) totals over 700 pages and chapters include:

Building occupancy classifications
Building heights and areas
Interior finishes
Foundation, wall, and roof construction
Fire protection systems (sprinkler system requirements and design)
Materials used in construction
Elevators and escalators
Already existing structures
Means of egress (see below)
Means of Egress
The phrase “means of egress” refers to the ability to exit the structure, primarily in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Specifically, a means of egress is broken into three parts: the path of travel to an exit, the exit itself, and the exit discharge (the path to a safe area outside). The code also address the number of exits required for a structure based on its intended occupancy use and the number of people who could be in the place at one time as well as their relative locations. It also deals with special needs, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons where evacuating people may have special requirements. In some instances, requirements are made based on possible hazards (such as in industries) where flammable or toxic chemicals will be in use.


“Accessibility” refers to the accommodation of physically challenged people in structures. This includes maneuvering from public transportation, parking spaces, building entry, parking spaces, elevators, and restrooms. This term replaces the term “handicapped” (handicapped parking, handicapped restroom) which generally found to be derogatory.

Existing structures

Building code requirements generally apply to the construction of new buildings and alterations or additions to existing buildings, changes in the use of buildings, and the demolition of buildings or portions of buildings at the ends of their useful or economic lives. As such, building codes obtain their effect from the voluntary decisions of property owners to erect, alter, add to, or demolish a building in a jurisdiction where a building code applies, because these circumstances routinely require a permit. The plans are subject to review for compliance with current building codes as part of the permit application process. Generally, building codes are not otherwise retroactive except to correct an imminent hazard. However, accessibility standards – similar to those referenced in the model building codes – may be retroactive subject to the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which is a federal civil rights requirement.

Alterations and additions to an existing building must usually comply with all new requirements applicable to their scope as related to the intended use of the building as defined by the adopted code (e.g., Section 101.2 Scope, International Building Code, any version). Some changes in the use of a building often expose the entire building to the requirement to comply fully with provisions of the code applicable to the new use because the applicability of the code is use-specific. A change in use usually changes the applicability of code requirements and as such, will subject the building to review for compliance with the currently applicable codes (refer to Section 3408, Change of Occupancy, International Building Code – 2009). The applicability of codes and/or specific requirements of the codes are subject to potential amendments as specified by the authority that adopts the code (refer to Section 104, International Building Code, any version).

Some jurisdictions limit such application to matters of fire safety, disabled access or structural integrity, others apply an economic feasibility or practicality test, and still others exempt buildings of special use or architectural or historic significance.

Existing buildings are not exempt from new requirements, especially those considered essential to achieve health, safety or general welfare objectives of the adopting jurisdiction, even when they are not otherwise subject to alteration, addition, change in use, or demolition.

Such requirements typically remedy existing conditions, considered in hindsight, inimical to safety, such as the lack of automatic fire sprinklers in certain places of assembly, as became a major concern after the Station nightclub fire in 2003 killed 100 people.

Although such remedial enactments address existing conditions, they do not violate the United States Constitution’s ban on the adoption of ex post facto law, as they do not criminalize or seek to punish past conduct.[citation needed] Such requirements merely prohibit the maintenance or continuance of conditions that would prove injurious to a member of the public or the broader public interest.

Assertions by property rights advocates in the United States that such requirements violate the “takings clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, have generally failed on grounds that compliance with such requirements increases rather than decreases the capital value of the property concerned.

Some states, especially those that delegate their adoption and enforcement authority to subordinate local jurisdictions, may exempt their own buildings from compliance with local building codes or local amendments to a statewide building code.

Similarly, property owned by the United States Government is considered exempt from state and local enactments, although such properties are generally not exempt from inspection by state or local authorities, except on grounds of protecting national defense or national security.

In lieu of submitting themselves to compliance with the requirements of other government jurisdictions, most state and federal agencies adopt construction and maintenance requirements that either reference model building codes or model their provisions on their requirements.

Some jurisdictions have enacted requirements to bring certain types or uses of existing buildings into compliance with new requirements, such as the installation of smoke alarms in households or dwelling units, at the time of sale. Some safety advocates[who?] have suggested a similar approach to encourage remedial application of other requirements, but few jurisdictions have found it economical or equitable to disincentivise property transactions in this way.

Many jurisdictions have found the application of new requirements to old, particularly historic buildings, challenging. New Jersey, for example, has adopted specific state amendments (see New Jersey’s Rehabilitation Subcode)to provide a means of code compliance to existing structures without forcing the owner to comply with rigid requirements of the currently adopted Building Codes where it may be technically infeasible to do so. California has also enacted a specific historic building code (see 2001 California Historic Building Code). Other states[which?] require compliance with building and fire codes, subject to reservations, limitations, or jurisdictional discretion to protect historic building stock as a condition of nominating or listing a building for preservation or landmark status, especially where such status attracts tax credits, investment of public money, or other incentives.

The listing of a building on the National Register of Historic Places does not exempt it from compliance with state or local building code requirements.

Updating Cycle

Updated editions of the IBC are published on a three year cycle (2000, 2003, 2006…). This fixed schedule has led other organizations, which produce referenced standards, to align their publishing schedule with that of the IBC.

Referenced Standards

Model building codes rely heavily on referenced standards as published and promulgated by other standards organizations such as ASTM (ASTM International), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). The structural provisions rely heavily on referenced standards, such as the Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Structures published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE-7).

Changes in parts of the reference standard can result in disconnection between the corresponding editions of the reference standards.

Copyright Controversy

Many states or municipalities in the United States of America adopt the ICC family of codes.

In the wake of the Federal copyright case Veeck v. Southern Building Code Congress Int’l, Inc., the organization Public Resource has published a substantial portion of the enacted building codes on-line, and they are available as PDFs.

ICC Building codes

International Building Code
International Fire Code
International Plumbing Code
International Mechanical Code
International Fuel Gas Code
International Energy Conservation Code
ICC Performance Code
International Wildland Urban Interface Code
International Existing Building Code
International Property Maintenance Code
International Private Sewage Disposal Code
International Zoning Code
International Green Construction Code


ICC Building codes 2013



02# Structural analysis #engineering

Structural analysis is the determination of the effects of loads on physical structures and their components. Structures subject to this type of analysis include all that must withstand loads, such as buildings, bridges, vehicles, machinery, furniture, attire, soil strata, prostheses and biological tissue. Structural analysis incorporates the fields of applied mechanics, materials science and applied mathematics to compute a structure’s deformations, internal forces, stresses, support reactions, accelerations, and stability. The results of the analysis are used to verify a structure’s fitness for use, often saving physical tests. Structural analysis is thus a key part of the engineering design of structures.

Structural #Engineering

Every part of a building is subject to the effects of outside forces—gravity, wind, earthquakes, and temperature changes, to name a few. Throughout history, people have constructed buildings that have withstood these forces over a long period of time, primarily using rules of thumb derived from their own experiences and those of their predecessors. In recent centuries, the scientific and industrial revolutions introduced analytical approaches that allowed designers to go beyond empirical limitations and predict the behavior of building systems and components that existed only in their imaginations. This gave rise to the formalization and specialization of the modern engineering profession, which in turn led to more accurate and cost-effective designs. Today the individual responsible for ensuring that buildings will remain standing while carrying out their intended functions is the structural engineer.


Purpose of estimating is to give a reasonably accurate idea of the #cost

Purpose of estimating is to give a reasonably accurate idea of the #cost

An estimate is necessary to give the owner an accurate idea of the cost to help him to decide if the work can be undertaken as proposed or needs to be curtailed or abandoned, depending upon the availability of funds and potential direct and indirect benefits. For government works proper sanction has to be obtained for allocating the required amount. Works are often let out on a lump sum basis and in this case the Estimator must be able to know exactly how much expenditure he is going to incur on them.

1. Estimating Materials
From the estimate of a work it is possible to determine what materials and in what quantities will be required for the work so that the arrangements to procure them can be made.

2. Estimating Labor
The number and kind of workers of different categories who will have to be employed to complete the work in the specified time can be found out from the estimate.

3. Estimating Plant
An estimate will help to determine amount and kind of equipment needed to complete the work.

4. Estimating Time
The estimate of a work and the past experience enable one to estimate quite closely the length of time required to complete a work. Whereas the importance of knowing the probable cost needs no emphasis, estimating materials, labor, plant and time is absolutely useful in planning and execution of any work.



A facade or façade is generally one exterior side of a building, usually, but not always, the front. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning “frontage” or “face”. Usually the term refers to the facade where the main entrance is located, but in many types of buildings there are also lateral facades (such as Gothic cathedrals).

The term implies ordered placement of its openings and other features and thus seems inapplicable to a wall without design. Any freestanding structure may have four or more facades, designated by their orientation (e.g., north facade); a building flanked by other buildings on either side generally has only a front and a rear facade. In medieval churches the chief facade is that of the building’s west end, which contains the principal entrance portals.

In architecture, the facade of a building is often the most important aspect from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. In medieval churches the chief facade is that of the building’s west end, which contains the principal entrance portals.

A façade is usually articulated by windows and portals. Its spatial configuration can be defined by the presence of foreparts and modular bays that mark the rhythm of the façade horizontally and vertically: Another important element is the structural and decorative apparatus (arches, stringcourse cornices, cornices, pilasters, lesene, columns, friezes, etc.. especially in ancient architecture) that, joined to the materials used for the construction (wood, stone, brick, marble and more recently reinforced concrete, steel and glass), contributes significantly to the definition of the facade.

From the engineering perspective of a building, the facade is also of great importance due to its impact on energy efficiency. Many facades are historical, and local zoning regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.


Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon that is widely used in construction and other applications because of its hardness and tensile strength. Carbon, other elements, and inclusions within iron act as hardening agents that prevent the movement of dislocations that naturally exist in the iron atom crystal lattices. The carbon in typical steel alloys may contribute up to 2.1% of its weight. Varying the amount of alloying elements, their form in the steel either as solute elements, or as precipitated phases, retards the movement of those dislocations that make iron so ductile and weak, and thus controls qualities such as the hardness, ductility, and tensile strength of the resulting steel. Steel’s strength compared to pure iron is only possible at the expense of ductility, of which iron has an excess.

Although steel had been produced in bloomery furnaces for thousands of years, steel’s use expanded extensively after more efficient production methods were devised in the 17th century for blister steel and then crucible steel. With the invention of the Bessemer process in the mid-19th century, a new era of mass-produced steel began. This was followed by Siemens-Martin process and then Gilchrist-Thomas process that refined the quality of steel. With their introductions, mild steel replaced wrought iron.

Further refinements in the process, such as basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS), further lowered the cost of production, while increasing the quality of the metal and largely replaced earlier methods. Today, steel is one of the most common materials in the world, with more than 1.3 billion tons produced annually. It is a major component in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines, appliances, and weapons. Modern steel is generally identified by various grades defined by assorted standards organizations.


Concrete is an artificial conglomerate consisting of a mixture of binder, water and aggregates (sand and gravel) and with the addition, as needed, additives and / or added minerals that influence the physical or chemical characteristics of the conglomerate both fresh and hardened.

The fresh concrete is thrown into the formwork and compacted with vibrators, but there are modern formulations of concrete, called self-compacting concrete, fundamental in contemporary architecture because they ensure a homogeneous and uniform result, which doesn’t require vibration but it is compacted exploiting the force of gravity.

Famous concrete structures include the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal and the Roman Pantheon. The earliest large-scale users of concrete technology were the ancient Romans, and concrete was widely used in the Roman Empire. The Colosseum in Rome was built largely of concrete, and the concrete dome of the Pantheon is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.

After the Roman Empire collapsed, use of concrete became rare until the technology was re-pioneered in the mid-18th century. Today, concrete is the most widely used man-made material (measured by tonnage).


Wood is a hard, fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It has been used for thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers (which are strong in tension) embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression. Wood is sometimes defined as only the secondary xylem in the stems of trees, or it is defined more broadly to include the same type of tissue elsewhere such as in the roots of trees or shrubs. In a living tree it performs a support function, enabling woody plants to grow large or to stand up by themselves. It also mediates the transfer of water and nutrients to the leaves and other growing tissues. Wood may also refer to other plant materials with comparable properties, and to material engineered from wood, or wood chips or fiber.

The Earth contains about one trillion tonnes of wood, which grows at a rate of 10 billion tonnes per year. As an abundant, carbon-neutral renewable resource, woody materials have been of intense interest as a source of renewable energy. In 1991, approximately 3.5 billion cubic meters of wood were harvested. Dominant uses were for furniture and building construction.

The wood has been used in construction since the ancient times.One of the oldest methods of construction of houses is defined blockbau, which overlap horizontally logs or beams to form the walls. The coupling is achieved at the corners, where the connections are obtained which allow the rigidity of the structure. The use of wood as a structural material was established practice since the nineteenth century. The introduction of steel and reinforced concrete have marked the gradual decline in the late nineteenth century especially in the south of Europe, limiting its use to a few fields such as engineering or natural light applications such as greenhouse or even mortifying as formwork. This decline has been much greater in Italy than in other European countries, even in Scandinavia has never ceased, while in North America has continued to use it extensively, especially in the civil. Only the recent development of new architectural design and construction techniques, as well as the deepening of structural analysis and resistance to combustion of wood, and the introduction of new products and preservatives from degradation by social insects, allowed to reclaim the countless architectural possibilities, the extraordinary aesthetic and total compatibility with sustainable development criteria that a wooden structure has to offer. New domestic housing in many parts of the world today is commonly made from timber-framed construction. Engineered wood products are becoming a bigger part of the construction industry. They may be used in both residential and commercial buildings as structural and aesthetic materials. In buildings made of other materials, wood will still be found as a supporting material, especially in roof construction, in interior doors and their frames, and as exterior cladding.

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