Structural engineering advances was significantly attributed to the stable and impeccable design of the pyramids which started the idea of engineering. However, the profession of being a structural engineer only started with the industrial revolution where the re-invention of concrete took place.
In that time, theoretical information about the structures was constrained, and development strategies depended on experience as they encounter it. These knowledge have been understood and have been developing ever since. An element which contributed to these developments was small-scale physical models where they were able to test the structures they imagine without the massive cost in construction.
Small-scale physical models have been the most effective to predict the structure’s behavior when done and the form needed for it to be constructed. It specifically tries to determine the tensile and compressive force that would be acting on the building. The earliest evidence of a model being used to help determine a form was by Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren where they formed a dome of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. They used inverted hanging chains to be able to create the dome and also be able to compromise the same weights as the arch (fig. 1).
This method of using hanging chains was then improved by different engineers, like using three dimensional models, and was used until the 19th century; however, hanging chain models were then used as design of suspension bridges. Tension structures were then the main focus of the chain method where varied loads were able to be tested in order the length of hangers to be used to support the roadway. The earliest history of using models to predict structural behavior was then found in the writings of both Palladio and Claude.
They used models in proportion to the real measurements that are to be used in construction. These models were used mainly for statically-indeterminate structures which was also then modified to their ideas that led to the transformation in the use of the models. Two factors that contributed to a huge transformation was to develop a reinforced concrete arch dams whose models were too complex and complicated (fig. 2). The development of the arch dams was possible due to various attempts like mimicking the real materials to be used in the actual construction, re-testing the behavior of the model, predicting stresses and deformations and scaling the measurements of the actual dam. Then come the early 20th century use of models in the design of building structures where the use of thin reinforced concrete shells was used to determine bending moments (fig. 3).
From around the same time, models were also used to predict dynamic behavior of structures in earthquakes and loads acting with the wind. Post-World War was then the time where measurement and experimental techniques were improved. Its most significant development was the use of dimensionless numbers in model testing. The use of dimensionless numbers gave way to consider the scaling of the model and the full-size structure, testing of unusual complex structures and integrating model testing into the design procedure.
By the mid 1970 came the computer-based modelling which started replacing the physical model testing. The computer-based modelling enabled a more accurate scale that gave the best options in doing the designed structures. Furthermore, it was able to give a better understanding of the behavior of the structure and suitability of materials that are to be used.
The success of these models paved the way in continuously developing the structural design of the buildings. It was able to display what the engineers had in mind and test the feasibility of their design. These models did not only save time but also save lives and millions.
Furthermore, these models gave assurance to the structural design to be done in construction.The most obvious answer in how I see the future in structures is the buildings being highly-adaptive, sustainable, economical, and eco-friendly. However, rather than the building that adjusts to the detrimental conditions of the earth, I envision the eco-restoring buildings. I anticipate the future of buildings to not only be capable of not harming the environment, rather it restores and improves the earth’s ecosystem. These structures would have highly advanced technology but does not run using the depleting fossil fuel of the earth. These structures could use transparent aluminum where less internal support are required and is also aesthetically pleasing; robots to construct to have a more accurate construction of building; and lastly, carbon bricks to be able to lessen the harmful effects of carbon dioxide to the ozone layer.
To simply put it, I envision the Avengers facility where technological advancements comes hand in hand with environmental care.