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Week 1 logbook

Constructing environments Week 1 Logbook Name: Yiyun XU (Linda) Student number: 691954

Lecture: For this week’s lecture, the main thing we did was using a piece of paper to make a structure which can support a brick. From the tests, I found that the structure which was lower or has many corners would hold the brick.

Tutorial & E – learning: Tutorial and e- learning was mainly focused on tension and compression, forces and scale, and load path diagrams. From the beginning, there is the introduction of strength; such as steel is much stronger in both compression and tension and brick is just strong in compression, Stiffness; such as some material is stiff, flexible, stretchy or flappy, shapes which include nono- dimensional (linear), bi-dimonsional (planar) or tridimensional (volumetric), material behaviours which is isotropic or anisotropic, and economy and sustainability, for example the timbers are available in Australia. Then we have learnt the basic structure forces. Forces can be changed by the direction, sense and magnitude.

Picture 1

picture 2 (Ching, 2008)

Picture 1 is the tension force, and it stretch and elongate the material. Picture 2 is compression force which compact the materials together. Comparing with the tension force and compression force, the tension force is depends on the stiffness of the material, cross sectional area, and the magnitude of the load. Compression forces result in reducing of material.

The following picture shows the load path.

This one is exploring how the load transfers down to the ground and the reaction forces.

(Ching, 2008) Tutor also gave us a mystery material: MDF, which is a special timber. It is light, easy work and easy to make small pieces.

Activity: compassion The MDF is the material of the group activity. Our task was using these timbers to build the highest tower. It was also required to support the punching of a dinosaur and had the enough space of dinosaur.

This is the structure our group wants to build. For the roof of tower we would accord the actual building we would build after.

Our building starts from this base.

We would build in this way. The narrows show the load pathway.

This structure would appear in the middle of our tower. This structure would reduce the material be used and also can be a kind of decoration. It might look easily to collapse, but actually it is quiet stable cause the timber in vertical direction is standing in the middle of the timber underneath. Therefore that timber would disperse the forces.

Activity process:

Build the base using the normal step, and then build a vertical layer. The vertical layer is weaker than normal layer, thus the proportion of normal layer and vertical layer is around 8:1.

Because we didn’t have enough time to build the roof, that was our final. After the punch, our tower was still stand there. It was quiet successful. However I think we have some problems can be improved. For example, if the tower builds from big to small gradually, the roof would be easy and quick to build. In addition, we can use less material than the cylinder one.

These are other groups’ work. In the first figure they built square form and changed to circular

form. They also changed the direction of timbers’ arrangement. The interstices between each timber is narrow therefor this tower would be stable. In figure two, their timber also arranged in different way. They mixed all possible direction of timbers together to make the smallest interstice of their wall.


Knowledge map:

Week 2 logbook

Constructing environments Week 2 Logbook Name: Yiyun XU (Linda) Student number: 691954

Lecture: For this week’s lecture, we need to make a water tank with plastic tube and a few straws. As we know straws are very flexible, but the structure that we need to make have to support 1kg. In this activity, I found that the leg frame with bracing between their legs was easy success.

Tutorial & E- learning: The tutorial and e – learning for this week introduce the structural system, construction system, environmentally sustainable design consideration and joints. For the structure system it includes solid system, surface system, skeletal system, membrane system and hybrid system.

Then was the construction system; such as performance requirement it includes the structural compatibility, fire resistance, protection, noise reduction sound isolation, acoustical privacy and maintenance requirements aspects, aesthetic qualities; thinking about the form, massing, colour, etc. economic considerations; including initial cost and life-cycle cost, and environmental impact.

Next, the environmental sustainable design (ESD) shows in the following figure. There is some ESD strategy for example, thermal mass, solar energy, and water harvesting and night air purging.

(Ching, 2008) The joint divides into roller joint, pin joint, and fixed joint.

Roller joint

Pin joint

Fixed joint

(Ching, 2008)

Activity: Frame For this activity, we were required to cut the balsa into 20 thin pieces. Then we should use these pieces to build a tower as high as it possible with super glue.

This is the structure we would build. There is a crossing balsa strip in the middle layer we considered it may hold some weight.

We used this type of joint to avoid the structure collapse.

Activity pocess:

Our tower collapsed in the end, cause we just considered the hight of the tower but neglected its stability and leaded to collapse. We should add more stirps in the middle and on the wall.


Knowledge map:

Week 3 logbook

Structural element: Structural elements are used for carrying loads which contain strut, tie, beam, slab, and panels. Strut and tie are slender and carry loads in the parallel direction of themselves. Strut is a compression element, for example the columns; conversely the tie is tension element such as the cables tie of bridge.

Columns: Cables of bridge:

Beams are combination with compression and tension element. It is usually a horizontal element to carry vertical load with its bending resistance. In order to support both of compression and tension forces, the beams are always used timber, steel and reinforce concrete as the materials. Slabs can transfer the load in both horizontal direction and vertical directions through the beam. Panels can be divided into wall which load goes vertical direction, and shear diaphragm which acts the bracing system to transfer the horizontal load to prevent the building overturning.

Footings & foundations

Foundations are the substructure of a building which can be found at the bottom of building. It can suppor the superstructure and transfer the loads from building to the earth safely, however when the foundations transfer the loads to the ground, the soil also have the bearing capacity. They need to be balance; because if the loads are greater than the bearing capacity of soil, the building will sink. The loads include live loads which represent human and moveable equipment and dead loads which represent the structure itself.

Because of the compassion forces of buildings, there will appear settlement which is the buillding sinking into the earth for long times. Consolidation is usually occurs quicker than the loads. They are opposite. The differental settlement is caused by the uneven consolidation of soil to influence relative movement of the different parts of the building. This can affect the building not to be plumb or shift out even fail to be a integrated building. Differental settlement Ching 3.03

Shallow foundations are used to the stable soil which can provide the adequate bearing capacity. Deep foundations are used to the unstable soil with inadequate bearing capacity. The footings extend down to the rock or dense sand which are more appropriate than the unstable soil. Both of shallow and deep foudation transfer the load to the soil by vertical dirction.

Right is sallow foundation Left is deep foundation

Different types of footing The strip footing is transfering the load from the foundation. It is same with the continuous footing and isolated footing; the loads pass through a serious of columns or just one column. Grade beam is a feinforce concrete to support the wall and transfer the loads down to the footing. strap footing is used the tie beam to connect two columns which can construct the balance load. The combined footing can not construct the balance loads. It is always used to reinforce the foundation wall or support the interior column loads.

On the left hand side is the raft foundation. It is thick concrete slab which can serves as a single monolithic footing. It can be made of a number of columns and used for the bearing capacity of soilis low relative. On the right hand side is floating foundation which is used in the yielding soil and therefore the weight of soil will equal ot great than the weight of supported.

Ching 3.09 Equilibrium: Equilibrium is balancing or nothing changed, for example in the constructing, it means when the opposite forces like compression and tension forces happen, it is still balancing or the system is at rest hence the sum force will be zero. Equilibrum has two forces; applied forces and reaction forces which can reflect on beams. Moment is a rotaion point of an object. It can be mearsured by the force maginitude and the distance, so the distance can can be calculated by Moment = distance x force.

Studio: This is a concrete column. “Columns are rigid, relatively slender structural members designed primarily to support axial compressive loads applied to the end of the members.� (Ching, 2008) This concrete of this construction also help transfor the loads to the foundation. Becausse it needs to be strong enough to support loads from roof and slabs and avoid buckle. Concrete will be the suitable material.

This is a steel column which can both support the roof and transfer the loads to the foundation system through concrete slab. Steel columns can form in many shapes, this is rectangular structural tubing. Steel as a structural material, it has high strength and stiffness. However using steel as material has one distadvantage, metal will have oxidation reaction. Therefore this steel has been painted to avoid the corrosion.

This is a cantilever here. Because this is just supported at only one end. The loads will go along of the length to the columns which support it on the left of the structure. Under the cantilever, there are steel beams. Steel beams belong to the steel floor system. They carry te loads in both horizontal and verital directions.

The image at the right hand side is steel flat russes roof. The image of left hand side is timber flat roof “wood is strong, durable, light in weight, and easy to work.� (Ching, 2008) Timber is not only has these useful properties, but also show a natural appearance of this building. The flat roof will cover the building in the horizontal direction, therefore the loads will be carried by columns and bearing wall systems to the foundation.

The sloping steel strips are used to avoid rainwater coming into the building. These steels need to have water-resistant covring.

This is the concrete in the car park. The shape of this conlumn is different with others, because it is convenient to grow trees in the soil and above the car park. Because concrete is weak in tension forces, concrete columns need to be reinfored by steel bars. In addition, reinforcing steels have to procted by concrete completely. Otherwise, reinforcing steels will be corrosive.



Course: the horizontal row of bricks is called course. Joint: when the bricks are joined together, it called joint. Perpend joint: it is the vertical joint between bricks. Ironed mortar joint: this is horizontal joint between bricks.

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Manmade Wonders the World Around In Bridge Form (2013, May). Retrieved from: File:Columns of Union Station.jpg (2008, February). Retrieved from: W03_m2 INTRODUCTION TO MASONRY (2014 March). Retrieved from :

Week 4 logbook

Span is a horizontal measurement between columns or any supporting system, and it is a vertical distance between beams or slabs. Spacing is also a vertical or horizontal measurement however spacing is the equal distance between a series of beams, columns or other supports.

Last week, we learnt beams are the horizontal element to the carry vertical loads. This week, we knew the beams also can transfer loads to the vertical supports. The beams are supported in several ways, such as supported at two ends, supported at several points along the beam, and the special one called cantilever.

Cantilever can be showed in two ways, one is supported away from ends of beams, the second one is supported at only one end of beam. Cantilever can form in horizontal, vertical or angled ways. The fountion of cantilevers is similar with beams, it can be used to carry loads along the length and transfer them to spports.

Floor system: Floor system can transfer the dead and live load to the horizontal supports. There are three types’ materials of floor systems. The concrete floor system is made of the per-cast concrete to cure the slabs. There is one way slab which is thick reinforcement and just a span between the support structures. Two way slabs are thick and reinforce in two directions which is used for the high resistance or heavy loads.

These structures are always constructed without beams. Per-cast concrete are manufactured in the factories. Precast units have greater structural efficiency with less depth, reduced weight and longer span. Ching 4.03

The timber floor system is structured with many joists and support the planking or decking onto the joists and bearers. There are span between the joists of floor boards. It is called joist spacing, the small joists spacing structure is used in subflooring, or underlayment. The timber floor is supported by girders, posts or loadbearing wall. The spacing of these support systems depends on joists and bearers, therefore the spacing of support system will equal to joists spans. Furthermore, the timber floor structures are flexible in shapes and forms. Ching 4.03

There are two ways of steel framing in the steel floor system. One way beam has the typical span distances. The beams is into the girders minimises floor depth to increase the stability of the structure. Two way beam system contains primary beams, secondary beams and large spanning members. Large spanning members are used to carry primary and secondary beams. Ching 4.03

The mystery of this week is plywood. Plywood is a wood pannel with combaine the thin wood venner with glue. The black line you can see is glue. The process of making plywood is using the “adjacent plies having their wood gain roated relative to dajacent layer up to 90 degree� (plywood, 2014) and then press fit in the constsant tempture and pressure. The advantage of plywood is plywood is more stable and harder than normal wood. It can reduce the thrinkage and expansion.


Ching 4.26

Joist span: “related to the magnitude od applied loads, joist size and spacing, species and grade of lumber used and deflection allowable for the intended use.” (Ching, 2008) Posttensioning: “the prestressing of a concrete member by tensioning the reforcing tendons after the concrete has set.” (Ching, 2008)

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Plywood, (2014) , retrieved from:

Week 5 logbook


The main materials we used are balsa woods, carboards and glue. We need to make a two stories’ model which is a basement and a ground floor. The scale of our model is 1:20.

We used carboards to make slabs and ceilings and used balsa wood to make walls. Because the materials we brought are too thin, we added the balsa wood strips to make it thicker. Same with slabs, we sticked carboard strips for each side to make it thicker. we sticked the wall on the alsb of basement. To skicked walls we used fixed joints.

When we put the slabs on the wall of basement, the loadbearing walls were hard to support slab. Then we added a column in the meddle of basement to help carry some loads from loadbearing to the foundaion.

We made the wall for ground floors using the same Strategied to make wall thcker. Then we put the roof on the top. We didn’t use many structural elements in our model. This model have lots to improve, such as we can use bracing to support the wall and let it be straight or we can use diagonal bracing to improve the stability. Same with the ground floor, we can make serveal temporary support for roof or add more fixed joints.

Glossary: Buckling: “long columns become unstable and fail by buckling.” (Short and long column, 2014) Crushing: “when a compressive load is applied and then fails by crushing when the compressive strength is exceeded” for short columns. (Short and long column, 2014) Expansion joints: “expansion joints are continuous, unobstructed shorts constructed to close slightly to accommodate the moisture expansion of brick and stone masonry surface” (Ching, 2008) Control joints: “control joints are constructed to open slightly to accommodate the shrinkage of a concrete masonry wall as it dries after construction.” (Ching, 2008)

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Short and Long Columns (2014). Retrieved from: %20AND%20LONG%20COLUMNS.pdf

Week 6 logbook

This model using the Howe trusses of roof system. “A truss is a structural frame based on the geometric rigidity of the triangle and composed of linear members subject only to axial tension or compression.” (Ching, 2008) In addition, there are three columns to support the roof; therefore it is a high stability model.

This model used the similar element with above group, but material this group used are thicker than above group. Due to this model showed the whole construction; it is more understandable for people. Glossary: Steel trusses: “are generally fabricated by welding or bolting structural angles and tees together to form the triangulated framework.” (Ching, 2008) Flat trusses: “have parallel top and bottom chords.” (Ching, 2008) Pratt trusses: “have vertical web members in compression and diagonal web members in tension.” (Ching, 2008) Belgian trusses: “have only inclined web members.” (Ching, 2008) Fink trusses: “are Belgian trusses having sub diagonals to reduce the length of compression web members toward the centreline of span.” (Ching, 2008)

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Week 7 logbook

Glossary: Flashing: “thin continuous pieces of sheet metal or other impervious material installed to prevent the passage of water into a structure from an angle or joint.” (Ching, 2008) Curtain wall: “a curtain wall is an exterior wall supported wholly by the steel or concrete structural frame of a building and carrying no loads other than its own weight and wind loads.” (Ching, 2008) Stucco: “stucco is a relatively thin, hard, brittle material that requires reinforcement or a sturdy, rigid, unyielding base.” (Ching, 2008) Expansion joints: “expansion joints are continuous, unobstructed slots constructed between two parts of a building or structure permitting thermal or moisture expansion to occur without damage to either part.” (Ching, 2008)

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Week 8 logbook

Glossary: Overhead doors: “are constructed of one or several leaves of wood, steel, aluminum, or fiberglass and open by swinging or rollig up to a position above the door opening.” (Ching, 2008) Coiling doors: “ceiling or rolling door consists of horizontal, interlocking metal slats guided by a track on either side or open by coiling about an overhead drum at the head of door opening.” (Ching, 2008) Door hand convention: “are used in specifying door hardware such as lockets and closers.” (Ching, 2008) Weather-stripping: “weather-spripping consists of metal, felt, vinyl, or foam rubber strips, placed between a door or window sash and its frame, to provide infiltration of air and dust.” (Ching, 2008)

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Week 9 logbook

Site view Basement: This is the carpark of this apartment, it has two stories car parks. The concrete walls are used pre-cast concrete. Pre-cast concrete manufactured in the factories and transport to the site. Using pre-cast concrete can work faster than in-situ concrete. Then spray concrete as finishing.

This is the drainage system of the car park. When there is water in the basement, water will sink slowly through the concrete wall.

This is pre-cast concrete columns, and reinforced by steel elbow bars. These concrete columns can transfer the loads down to the foundation system and disperse the loads.

For the basement, there are no beams with concrete slabs, because the slab here is 350mm thick.

First level:

Here are steel columns; they are thinner than the columns in the basement. It is substantial and thick of 8 – 10 mm. the function of steel columns is similar with the concrete columns in the basement. They are transfer and disperse loads.

On the right hand side is a rectangula r block with water. This is for shower and drainage system.

The black circle is used for the fire safety.

This is pine wood. The normal size of pine is 90 x 35 and 90 x 45. Pine wood is a strong material can resist to shrinking, swelling, warping and cracking.

Glossary: Occupant load: “which is based on the use group and the floor area served, determains the required width of an exit stairway.” (Ching, 2008)

Elevator pit: “is the portion of the shaft that extends from the level of the lowest landing to the floor of the hoist way.” (Ching, 2008) Basecoat: “refers to any plater coat applied before the finish coat.” (Ching, 2008) Brown coat: “is a roughly finished, leveling coat of plaster, either the second coat in threecoat plaster or the base coat in two-coat plaster applied over gypsum lath or masonry.” (Ching, 2008) Finish coat: “is the final coat of plaster, serving either as a finished surface or as a base for decoration.” (Ching, 2008)

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Week 10 logbook

Glossary: Aggregate: “aggregate refers to any of various inert mineral materials, as sand and gravel, added to a cement paste to make concrete” (Ching, 2008) Veneer grade: “define the appearance of a veneer in term of growth characteristics and the number and size of requires that may be made during manufacture.” (Ching, 2008) Expansion shield: “are lead or plastic sleeves inserted into a predrilled hole and expanded by driving a bolt or screw into it.” (Ching, 2008) Toggle bolts: “are used to fasten materials to plaster, gypsum board, and other thin wall materials. They have two hinged wings that close against a spring when passing through a predrilled hole and open as they emerge to engage the inner surface of a hollow wall.” (Ching, 2008)

Reference list: Ching, F.D.K (2008), Building Construction Illustrated (fourth edition).John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Workshop: In the constructing workshop, we were required to build a bridge by two pieces of pine woods and two pieces of plywood. This bridge needed to bear as much as possible loads in the short time. Then our group decided to use triangles to be our main structure, because triangle is relatively stable structure.

First of all, we measured dimensions of every piece of wood and arranged the use for evey piece of wood. Then we decided to cut the longer pine wood to six pieces of wood evenly. Therefore the triangles we made were isosceles triangles. When we cut the wood by hacksaw, we need to keep some distances btween people and wood and let arm be stright, hence people would cut wood easily. When I tried to cut the pinewood, I could not saw continously. Then teacher told me at the first time, we should use strength to cut a gap, and then just keep sawing vertical to the wood.

Photograph by Cathy Zhang

After sawing pine wood, we found an angle which needs to cut to suit the pine wood underneath. Then we used nail to fix three angles of this triangle structure.

Photograph by Cathy Zhang

We can see nail fixed in the image. At last, we added two pieces of ply wood in the front and at back to reinforce the structure. The ply woods were also fixed by nails.

Photograph by Cathy Zhang

Finally, our bridge buckled in the middle. Due to we used too many nails to cause the little gap of the wood. Therefore, when the heavy loads coming, gaps of nails will be the weakest part of the whole structure. Otherwise, ply wood is weaker than pine wood, it can not carry too many loads that pine wood can.

Final logbook--yiyun xu