Structural System

The term structural system or structural frame in structural engineering refers to load-resisting sub-system of a structure. The structural system transfers loads through interconnected structural components or members.

Commonly used structures can be classified into five major categories, depending on the type of primary stress that may arise in the members of the structures under major design loads. However any two or more of the basic structural types described in the following may be combined in a single structure, such as a building or a bridge in order to meet the structures functional requirements.

  • Tensile structures: Members of tensile structures are subjects to pure tension under the action of external loads. Because the tensile stress is uniformly distributed over the cross-sectional area of members, the material of such a structure is utilized in the most efficient manner.
  • Compressive structures: Compression structures develop mainly compressive stresses under the action of axial loads. Because compressive structures are susceptible to buckling or instability, the possibility of such a failure should be considered in their designs if necessary, adequate bracing must be provided to avoid such failures.
  • Trusses: Trusses are composed of straight members connected at their ends by hinged connections to form a stable configuration. Because of their light weight and high strength, are among the most commonly used type of structure.
  • Shear structures: These are structures such as reinforced concrete shear walls, which are used in multistory buildings to reduce lateral movements due to wind loads and earthquake excitations. Shear structures develop mainly in-plane shear with relatively small bending stresses under the action of external loads.
  • Bending structures: Bending structures develop mainly bending stresses under the action of external loads. The shear stresses associated with the changes in bending moments may also be significant should be considered in their designs.

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