Most of the articles we write and publish on the Partridge blog are written with the intended audience being architects, builders, and homeowners who might be contemplating renovating or building a new house. This one’s probably aimed more at engineers, although – if you’re an architect or builder – what follows might give you some insight into how engineers think and how we can better serve you.Details
“Art without engineering is dreaming; engineering without art is calculating.” Steven Roberts
For most people viewing artwork – and particularly in the case of sculptures – the joy is in appreciating the artists’ work, endeavours, interpretation, and skill. But have you ever considered that, sometimes, the piece of art might have some engineering behind it?Details
Until very recently, it was extremely common for us here at Partridge to have no knowledge or involvement with a project until after it came out of Council with its DA approved.
For 95% of our projects, the architects would independently develop the DA-submission plans with their client, lodge the DA, and then contact us a few months later to sign us up for the job after the DA was approved.
Only then, once all floor levels, structural zones, and building heights had been approved and “locked in” with Council, would we as engineers then have the opportunity to analyse the structural loadpath of the building and determine the size and thickness of its structural elements. For example, we’d begin to explore the thickness of the suspended slabs; the depth of the floor joists or roof rafters; and the size of the beams that would span across large openings and support the structure above.Details
“What are we building here, mate – the Sydney Harbour Bridge???”
It’s the most common question asked of every engineer when he or she gets to site. The moment the steel fixer believes the slab has too much reinforcement, or the fabricator thinks all the steel beams are bigger than they’re supposed to be, the engineer is instantly accused of designing the Harbour Bridge all over again!
Stereotypes aren’t always appropriate or deserved, but the general stereotype levelled against engineers is that we’re all a conservative bunch who over-design everything. Being over-conservative with our designs or using overly-conservative factors of safety, the presumption is that engineers are risk-averse and too busy covering their backsides than designing efficient structures.
Is there any truth in this? Is the criticism warranted, or is there a bigger picture at play here?Details