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June 28, 2017

Advances in technology make for ever more exciting and innovative structures in the 21st century.

As technology advances, it changes the face of almost every aspect of our lives, from catering to communication, and from medicine to transportation. The world of construction and engineering is no exception. Here, we take a look at how the world of structural dynamics is revolutionising the buildings and structures that we see around us.

What is structural dynamics?

The discipline of structural dynamics is nothing new. Essentially, it is the study of the way in which structures react to significant variations in load over time. The most obvious application is in the design of earthquake resistant buildings in high risk locations.
However, in recent years, the area of structural dynamics has become increasingly relevant in a wider variety of general engineering and construction applications, thanks to the increasing complexity of modern design trends and the use of innovative materials and construction methods.

Where has it been applied?

We all know that today’s high-rise buildings are taller and slimmer than ever before. This raises new questions relating to the effects of wind and even of people moving around – and structural dynamics supplies the answers.

It is not just related to tall buildings, however. Modern bridges also exhibit a dynamic response to the variable loads that they bear. This principle is exemplified by the Queensferry Bridge in Scotland that will be completed this year.

Perhaps the most famous example, though, is London’s Millennium Bridge, which was nicknamed “the wobbly bridge” by a slightly nervous public, when it first opened.  The “wobbles” were a consequence of its very low natural frequency coincidentally matching that of the footfalls of the thousands of pedestrians who used it every day. The addition of dynamic control devices periodically along its length dampened the resultant vibration and solved the problem.

What kind of research?

Research in the area of structural dynamics essentially seeks to understand two different but related areas. The first explores the nature of loads in themselves, and creates models that provide a mathematical representation of these loads, so that structural engineers can allow for them in their designs.

The second area of research contemplates how structures will respond to these loads, and to define acceptable performance metrics.

Researchers need as much empirical data as they can get to make their models as accurate as possible. This means measuring the effects of different loads in different structures, and making as many valuable insights as they can from this data.

Why now?

Technology has progressed in two areas to create a “perfect storm” and bring enormous advances to the discipline. On the one hand, the measurement devices themselves have become far more accurate and versatile, generating vastly more data than ever before.

At the same time, our ability to squeeze a steadily increasing number of insights out of every piece of available data, by using IT applications such as data analytics and machine learning, have really removed the scales from our eyes.

The result? Structural dynamics will facilitate constructions that only a few short years ago would have looked like the stuff of dreams.

Working with an experienced team on any structural project is crucial to its success. Here at GSE we work with both commercial and residential client to ensure their projects stand the test of time.

Talk to us today about your project.