The ambient movement of three modern multi-storey timber buildings has been measured and used to determine modal properties. This information, obtained by a simple, unobtrusive series of tests, can give insights into the structural performance of these forms of building, as well as providing information for the design of future, taller timber buildings for dynamic loads. For two of the buildings, the natural frequency has been related to the lateral stiffness of the structure, and compared with that given by a simple calculation. In future tall timber buildings, a new design criterion is expected to become important: deflection and vibration serviceability under wind load. For multi-storey timber buildings there is currently no empirical basis to estimate damping for calculation of wind-induced vibration, and there is little information for stiffness under wind load. This study therefore presents a method to address those gaps in knowledge.
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Construction Materials
Cross-laminated timber has, in the last 6 years, been used for the first time to form shear walls and cores in multi-storey buildings of seven storeys or more. Such buildings can have low mass in comparison to conventional structural forms. This low mass means that, as cross-laminated timber is used for taller buildings still, their dynamic movement under wind load is likely to be a key design parameter. An understanding of dynamic lateral stiffness and damping, which has so far been insufficiently researched, will be vital to the effective design for wind-induced vibration. In this study, an ambient vibration method is used to identify the dynamic properties of a seven-storey cross-laminated timber building in situ. The random decrement method is used, along with the Ibrahim time domain method, to extract the modal properties of the structure from the acceleration measured under ambient conditions. The results show that this output-only modal analysis method can be used to extract modal information from such a building, and that information is compared with a simple structural model. Measurements on two occasions during construction show the effect of non-structural elements on the modal properties of the structure.
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Construction Materials
The fire performance of heavy timber frame structures is often limited by the poor fire performance of its connections. Conventional timber connections, dowelled or toothed plate connections typically use steel as a connector material. In a fire, the steel parts rapidly conduct heat into the timber, leading to reduced fire performance. Replacing metallic connectors with alternative non-metallic, low thermal conductivity connector materials can, therefore, lead to improved connection performance in fire. This paper presents an experimental study into the fire performance of metal-free timber connections comprising a hot-pressed plywood flitch plate and glass-fibre-reinforced polymer dowels. The thermal behaviour of the connections at elevated temperatures is studied using a standard cone calorimeter apparatus and a novel heat transfer rate inducing system. The latter is a fire testing system developed at the University of Edinburgh. The mechanical behaviour of the connection during severe heating was also studied using an environmental chamber at temperatures up to 610°C. The results demonstrate that heat transfer in the non-metallic connections is governed by the thermal properties of the timber, resulting in significant enhancements in connection fire performance.
Cross-laminated timber shear wall systems are used as a lateral load resisting system in multistory timber buildings. Walls at each level typically bear directly on the floor panels below and are connected by nailed steel brackets. Design guidance for lateral load resistance of such systems is not well established and design approaches vary among practitioners. Two cross-laminated two-story timber shear wall systems are tested under vertical and lateral load, along with pull-out tests on individual steel connectors. Comprehensive kinematic behavior is obtained from a combination of discrete transducers and continuous field displacements along the base of the walls, obtained by digital image correlation, giving a measure of the length of wall in contact with the floor below. Existing design approaches are evaluated. A new offset-yield criterion based on acceptable permanent deformations is proposed. A lower bound plastic distribution of stresses, reflecting yielding of all connectors in tension and cross-grain crushing of the floor panel, is found to most accurately reflect the observed behavior.
In timber structures, the connections are generally flexible in comparison to the members they connect, and so contribute significantly to the dynamic properties of the structure. It is shown here that a widely-used form of connection, the dowel-type connection, exhibits nonlinear stiffness and energy dissipation, even at pre-yield loads, and that this nonlinearity affects the modal properties of structures with such connections. This study investigates that behaviour by modal analysis of a portal frame and a cantilever beam constructed from timber with steel dowel connections. The observed nonlinearity is explained qualitatively by considering the measured force-displacement response of individual connectors under cyclic load, which show a reduction in stiffness and an increase in energy dissipation with increasing amplitude of vibration. The structures were tested by modal analysis under slow sine sweep and pseudo-random excitation. Under pseudo-random excitation, a linear single degree-of-freedom curve fit was applied to estimate the equivalent linear modal properties for a given amplitude of applied force. Under slow sine sweep excitation, the frequency response function for the structures was observed to show features similar to a system with a cubic component of stiffness, and the modal properties of the structures were extracted using the equation of motion of such a system. The consequences for structural design and testing are that two key design parameters, natural frequency and damping, vary depending on the magnitude of vibration, and that parameters measured during in-situ testing of structures may be inaccurate for substantially different loads.
Wind-induced vibration is an important design consideration in tall buildings in any structural material. The two main forms of wind-induced vibration - across-wind vibration due to vortex shedding and along-wind vibration due to turbulence - were taken into consideration when undertaking this study. Both types are addressed in Eurocode 1.
This research summary discusses a study which, following a sensitivity study into the effect of stiffness and damping on wind-induced vibration, addresses a shortfall in current knowledge of stiffness in dowel-type connections. This type of connection is found in the glulam frame and CLT structures currently at the forefront of tall timber construction, and its behaviour was investigated by measuring and analysing stiffness and damping under oscillating loads representative of wind-induced vibration.
This research summary covers a number of factors relating to wind-induced vibration which must be considered when constructing a tall timber building, such as how to assess connection stiffness under in-service vibration. The various conditions were then applied to a case study - the proposed Barentshaus building.