Stuctural forms of buildings around the city centre

Summary: A report describing an engineers daily agenda to ensure the right construction material is used for a particular building. In this report it describes different materials used in popular landmarks across Liverpool’s city centre. Thus, discusses the different advantages and disadvantages of those materials.


Liverpool is experiencing a renaissance and as it moves closer to the title of Capital of Culture 2008 we are witnessing exciting enhancements to the city. Downtown Liverpool is an advocate of contemporary urbanism. With a lot of projects taking place an engineer has to ensure that he uses the right materials for his or her construction.

It is an engineers responsibility to ensure that the 5 principles of downtown development take place as follows:

Intensification of site development, taller buildings, mixed use that generates critical mass

Good urban design practice. Urban block, active ground floor street frontage, de zoning, pedestrian and public transport priority.

Contemporary architecture, conservation of the best, no extrapolating out into ‘heritage’ landscape development

Emphasis on quality, diversity and complementary design.

Materials used in buildings have to meet a number of different functional requirements while they are exposed continuously to a wide variety of destructive agencies. Various factors are associated with both these include strength, fire, production, heat and sound. In building it is essential that practice materials are selected very carefully. This is to ensure that they meet specific functional requirements, to make sure harmful deterioration is delayed for as long as it is practicable.

It is vital to not only have a sufficient understanding of the properties of the materials themselves but of the factors that effect their performance and endurance to obtain the best out of the materials. This report aims to provide a systematic coverage, on a comparative basis of the relationship between materials and factors against which materials are expected to perform for some different sites across Liverpool’s City Centre.


The cathedral Church of Christ(A.1), Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s masterpiece, is built on St. James’ Mount and is visible from miles around. It was one of the largest building projects of the 20th Century . The cathedral is built mainly of sandstone quarried from the Liverpool suburb of Woolton.

The use of sandstone(A.2) has long been recognized as a material of great durability and artistic quality. Sandstone comes from the naturally occurring rock, Sedimentary. Sedimentary is a soft and porous rock formed from deposits of eroded pre-existing rock that settled in layers mostly on sea beds, and became compacted. Sandstone is made up of a wide range of material, not all of these would suit constructive purposes. Factors involved include grain size, and how well cemented together those grains of sand are. A poorly – cemented loose grained stone will not hold up for very long, while some of the tightly packed, well cemented stones, particularly those with a siliceous cement, are hard to work. The down side to sandstone is its porosity. They tend to absorb a lot of water, and freeze thaw cycles can do a lot of damage.

During research of the cathedral church of Christ I came to conclude that the sandstone used was Hard, dense tightly cemented sandstone therefore this would ensure that elements are held up for as long as possible. Another factor that was taken into consideration during construction was the bedding direction of the stones laid. Stone laid up with the bedding planes horizontal tend to weather better than stone laid up with the bedding planes vertical, and if it is laid with vertical bedding parallel to the face of the wall, an extreme amount of spilling can be the result.

The Dulverton bridge and the cover over the font of the church are made of wide quarter-sawn boards of oak(A.3). Oaks are hardwood trees. Oak wood has a density of about 0.75 g/cm� meaning it has great strength and hardness which is exactly what is needed for this type of construction.

Reinforced concrete ( ferroconcrete )(A4) is another very popular construction material. Almost all concrete used in construction is reinforced concrete. reinforced concrete, resists compression but also bending, and other direct tensile actions. A reinforced concrete section where the concrete resists the compression and steel resists the tension can be made into almost any shape and size for the construction industry. Therefore, concrete is often incorporated to strengthen a material that would be brittle. An example of a building in Liverpool that uses reinforced concrete is the Radio Tower(A.5). This is an independent radio station that broadcasts to Merseyside and surrounding counties.

Reinforced concrete in this tower ensures that the load bearing elements, foundations, walls, roofs and floors all have adequate strength and stability to support the dead loads of the construction, without such undue deformation might adversely affect the strength and stability of parts of the whole building. A disadvantage of reinforced concrete is basic exposure to water run-off is at a maximum which means when water runs down the external walls of the tower in a continuous sheet and may therefore penetrate into the interior wherever cracks or local defects occur .

Finally, while conducting research around the city and going around different projects and buildings which consisted of the Grand Central, Great Newton street and Victoria building it brought to my attention how many different materials could be used in one building(A.6). Steel was one of the major components. Steel as a construction material has seen phenomenal growth in the last few years.

steel is an alloy consisting mostly of iron with a small percentage of carbon(A.7). Steel buildings offer many advantages. They are usually constructed much faster than buildings using other materials; the costs are usually lower compared to traditional building methods; they are lighter weight; they are easier to maintain; and they carry a reduced risk of fire. Moreover, steel is 66% recyclable, which makes it an especially cost-effective and environmentally sound alternative to any other construction material. Above all, strength is a major plus for steel.

Steel structures can withstand unfavorable weather conditions such as hurricanes, high winds, heavy snow and even earthquakes. They are also resistant to termites, creeping, cracks, splitting and rotting, thus increasing durability. However, a disadvantage is condensation might form in a steel building this could be resolved though by designing for the proper insulation, heating, and ventilation of the steel building greatly reduces the incursion of moisture and its corrosiveness.

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