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What Is Building Science?

written by: vishalseafarer • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 5/26/2010

Building Science is all about other sciences involved in the construction of buildings and other structures. A brief idea of what Building Sciences are all about and how other sciences are involved are illustrated in this article.

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    Introduction to Building Science

    Civil engineering is the main branch of engineering that is concerned with the construction of buildings and other structures. But civil engineering alone is not implemented in the construction of buildings. Various other streams of engineering like mechanical engineering, soil engineering, aeronautical engineering, etc are also equally involved.

    To illustrate the involvement of other streams of engineering in building sciences let us take an example. When a dam or a very tall skyscraper is built, first the construction site is thoroughly analysed for the nature and type of soil or ground, the level of the water table is checked, the seismic zone under which it comes is checked so that the building is built accordingly making it resistant to earthquakes to a certain extent; simulation tests are carried out in labs to check how stable and safe the structure will be once it is constructed and likewise so many other tests are done before the first brick is laid. Thus soil engineering, mechanical engineering and various other branches of engineering play a vital role along with civil engineering in the construction of buildings. Together they are called building sciences. Therefore building sciences are concerned with ensuring that various parameters are taken care of and dealt with, before and while a building is being constructed. This article focuses how various engineering streams play an important role in building sciences.

    A Real Life Example of the Application of Building Sciences and How Other Streams of Engineering is Vital in Building Sciences:

    Taipei 101, the world's second tallest building uses mass dampers for the stability of the building. For such a humongous structure, its stability plays an important role and so does safety and the investment of millions of dollars. The usage of mass dampers ensures this to a certain extent. Before the construction of the building, the ground was tested for how soft the ground was and whether it was sensitive to many seismic activities or not. While the building was being constructed, it was designed in such a way that the airflow around it is good and it doesn't make the building sway too much and cause too much strain on various parts of the building. Thus mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, soil engineering and other sciences too were involved while the building was being constructed. This is what Building Sciences are all about.

    Taipei 101 Tuned Mass Damper 

    How Various Engineering Streams Play a Vital Role in Building Science:

    The various factors of that affect the buildings are:

    Stress and Strain: The buildings are affected by naturally occurring phenomenon like winds at high speeds, storms, torrential rain, flood, etc. When this happens, the stress and strain experienced by the building is increased significantly. So building sciences use mechanical engineering to simulate the stress and strain experienced by the building and thereby use appropriate construction materials while constructing them thereby ensuring that the stress and strain on the building don't lead to any significant damage to the structure and damage it.

    Stability: The center of gravity of the building should lie low so that the building doesn't start leaning and eventually lose its stability. Leaning tower of Pisa is a perfect example for this case. It is one of those cases where building sciences were not implemented and that led to the building being not stable and causing it to lean. The reason behind it is the ground on which it is built is very soft for such a huge structure which has led to its leaning position. Modern advancements in building sciences have led to the restoration of the angle of the building so that it doesn't tip over.

    Resistance to Earthquakes: The Bird's Nest, which hosted the 2008 Olympics had a unique structure at its base so that it could resist earthquakes of high degrees. The foundation was engineered in such a way that a major part of the vibrations are damped and isolated at the foundation itself and is distributed uniformly so that the disturbances or vibrations do not affect the building as a whole. Principles such as base isolation and dissipation systems are used to prevent any damage of high degree from minor earthquakes.

    Aerodynamics: While constructing bridges over rivers, like the Hangzhou bay bridge which((((((((((((((((((((((check this)))))))) is affected by winds at high speeds, the components used while building the bridge are designed in such a way that the flow of air around the bridge is fluid and it doesn't resist the air flow around the bridge. Thus the bridge is rendered safe and doesn't sway when the speed of wind increases.

    Hangzhou-Bay-Bridge 

    The Mechanical Strength of the Structure:

    When buildings and structures are built, the mechanical structure of the building is very important as this is what forms the skeletal structure of the building or a structure. Every other component and part is built over this mechanical structure. Eiffel tower and Milau bridge are excellent examples of the efficient integration of civil and mechanical engineering. Eiffel tower built in the late 19th century is still standing and thanks to some really good implementation of mechanical engineering, it is not bothered by any natural disasters except for a few wear and tears that have been checked and restored.

    Eiffel Tower 

    There are many other structures that are standing and are great examples of building sciences but they are out of the scope of this article as this is just an overview of what building sciences are and why, where and how they are applied.

    Thus building sciences are very important in today's world in the construction of a building irrespective of its size.