This paper presents an investigation of possible disproportionate collapse for a nine-storey flat-plate timber building, designed for gravity and lateral loads. The alternate load-path analysis method is used to understand the structural response under various removal speeds. The loss of the corner and penultimate ground floor columns are the two cases selected to investigate the contribution of the cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels and their connections, towards disproportionate collapse prevention. The results show that the proposed building is safe for both cases, if the structural elements are removed at a speed slower than 1 sec. Disproportionate collapse is observed for sudden element loss, as quicker removal speed require higher moments resistance, especially at the longitudinal and transverse CLT floor-to-floor connections. The investigation also emphasises the need for strong and stiff column-to-column structural detailing as the magnitude of the vertical downward forces, at the location of the removed columns, increases for quicker removal.
With the ever-increasing popularity of engineered wood products, larger and more complex structures made of timber have been built, such as new tall timber buildings of unprecedented height. Designing for structural robustness in tall timber buildings is still not well understood due the complex properties of timber and the difficulty in testing large assemblies, making the prediction of tall timber building behaviour under damage very difficult. This paper discusses briefly the existing state-of-the-art and suggests the next step in considering robustness holistically. Qualitatively, this is done by introducing the concept of scale, that is to consider robustness at multiple levels within a structure: in the whole structure, compartments, components, connections, connectors, and material. Additionally, considering both local and global exposures is key in coming up with a sound conceptual design. Quantitatively, the method to calculate the robustness index in a building is presented. A novel framework to quantify robustness and find the optimal structural solution is presented, based on the calculation of the scenario probability-weighted average robustness indices of various design options of a building. A case study example is also presented in the end.
Robustness research has become popular, however very little is known on its explicit quantification. This paper summarises a quantification method previously published by the main author and proceeds in demonstrating its step-by-step application with a case study tall timber building. A hypothetical 15-storey post-and-beam timber building with a central core is designed for normal loads, and four improved options are designed to account for abnormal loads in order to increase the building’s robustness. A detailed, nonlinear, dynamic Finite Element model is set up in Abaqus® to model three ground floor column removal scenarios, and a Random Forest classifier is set up to propagate uncertainties, to efficiently estimate the probability of certain collapse classes occurring, and to calculate the importance of each input parameter. The results show how design improvements at the whole building scale (e.g., strong floors) have a higher impact on robustness performance than just improving the strength and ductility of some selected connections, although these results are exclusive to the building studied. The case study reinforces the importance of a sound conceptual design for achieving robustness in tall timber buildings.
Timber buildings are increasing in their dimensions. Structural robustness is imperative for all buildings and specifically important for tall buildings. Lives can be saved if disproportionate collapse can be avoided after a catastrophic event (e.g. accident, terrorism). The literature about robustness is comprehensive concerning concrete and steel buildings, but is rather limited regarding timber. This paper reviews robustness in general and robustness of timber buildings in particular. Robustness is an intrinsic structural property, enhancing global tolerance to local failures, regardless of the cause. A deterministic approach to assess robustness is to remove certain load-bearing elements from the structure and compare the consequences to given limits. Design methods for robustness may be direct by assessing effects of local failure, or indirect by following guidelines. For robust timber buildings, the connections are the key aspects. Usually, metal connectors may provide the required joint ductility. For robust light timber-frame construction, rim beams may be designed. For timber posts and beams and cross laminated timber, guidance regarding robustness is scarce, but in some aspects they seem to be similar to steel frames and precast concrete. Future research should assess the capacity of connections, and evaluate the adequacy of seismic connectors for robust timber buildings.