Structural Behavior of Historic Buildings: Exploring Forms and Failures

Institution: Carleton University
Category: Faculty of Engineering and Design
Language: English

Course Description

Since Roman times, the mechanics of masonry structures have been of great interest for engineers and architects to span large distances and build massive structures. However, what makes historic structures stable and architecturally sound, helping them to survive throughout the centuries? This mini-course embraces the most basic and common structural elements used in historic buildings and bridges to answer this question.
Together with their magnificent view, historic structures are the sources of information regarding local materials, culture, and traditional construction techniques. The vast majority of architectural heritage includes masonry arches, walls, and combined structural elements.
Three experimental setups will be performed to show the structural behavior of a masonry arch, multi-layer wall, and arch-pier system. First, the masonry arch mechanics will be learned via simple mathematical expressions considering the historical evolution of arch form. Then, masonry walls will be discussed and combined with various arch forms to build an arch-pier structure. Students will have hands-on experience with small-scale experiments. It is aimed to show the fundamental mechanics of historic buildings via experiential learning activities and introduce some of the basic definitions commonly used in engineering science. The structural failures and collapse mechanisms will be demonstrated with the experiments and later discussed in class.