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Construction Technology - Essay Example

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Function and Attributes. A building's function, or what it is to be used for, strongly influences its design and construction. With the function corresponds a set of attributes, standards, and design elements.
All buildings have a common function: to protect people from the natural elements of weather (sun, rain, cold, and wind) by providing shelter, one of man's basic needs (after food and clothing)…
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Construction Technology Essay
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Office and supermarket buildings differ in the way they fulfill their function and the three common attributes. An office building's function is to provide an environment where people can work. A supermarket's function is to provide an environment where people can buy goods for their use at home, for recreation, or at the office.
Both building types share several attributes like safety, productive working environment, flexibility, aesthetics, comfort, and accessibility. However, because of their different functions, they differ in some key design elements: parking, substructure, fire safety, and superstructure components (civil, mechanical (HVAC), electrical, electronics, and plumbing).
Parking. Depending on their location, a supermarket generally should be able to accommodate a higher volume of vehicular parking compared to office buildings. Access to supermarket parking spaces should make it easy to unload and load goods to and from the vehicle. Most supermarkets have their parking spaces at ground level, while most office buildings located in commercial districts have parking spaces below ground, although some recent building designs allocate mezzanine floors for parking. This consideration affects the substructure design.
Substructure. The load bearing capacity of large supermarkets may be similar as office buildings if the latter includes vehicle parking as part of its substructure. Supermarkets carry all types and weights of goods, from very small items to large household appliances. The supermarket's design attributes and substructure specifications will depend on the merchandise, or the types of goods sold. Since a supermarket is not as tall a structure as an office building, a large portion of the static load comes from the merchandise stored, while dynamic loads come from the traffic of people moving within the space. If parking, delivery and storage of goods is done underground, the substructure design should take this into account.
At first glance, office buildings may carry lower static loads from office furniture and equipment, but it has greater dynamic loads coming from occupants and visitors. Being taller structures, office buildings are subject to higher pressure from strong winds and ground movements, both of which affect the substructure design. All these, and building code requirements for parking spaces, should be considered when designing footings, foundations, and structural retaining walls.
Fire Safety. Supermarkets are at higher risks of fire than office buildings because of the variety of merchandise they contain within an enclosed space. However, they are easier to evacuate in case of fire because safety zones are just one (fire exit) door away and are located on the same level. Office buildings are less at risk of a fire, but if it breaks out at the upper floors, evacuation can be a problem. Superstructure design (walls, slab floors, and ceilings) can address this by providing isolated areas to contain fire hazards or act as safety zones on the same level, or not too far from the source of the fire. Fire safety systems are designed taking into account differences in building height and access to burning zones.
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