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SUSCOS Sustainable Constructions under Natural Hazards and Catastrophic Events

May 2013

Application of different robustness approaches
to a frame building structure

L. Comeliau, J.-F. Demonceau, J.-P. Jaspart (ULg)



The aim of this exercise is to investigate different ways of ensuring the robustness of a frame
building structure considering a vehicle impact on a column of the ground floor. The building
is located at a corner of two roadways and thus the perimeter columns adjacent to these roads
are likely to be impacted by a car or a lorry. Besides, the ground floor is a parking area
(accessible to cars only) so that any internal column could also be damaged.
The different approaches proposed in the Eurocodes will be applied and discussed. These
methods consist for example in increasing the column resistance in such a way they can resist
the impact or designing the structure so that it remains globally stable despite the loss of the
damaged column. However, in such a case, a static removal of the column will be assumed
(for sake of simplicity, no dynamic effect due to the failure of the column will be taken into
account in this exercise).


2.1. Geometry of the 3D structure

The structure to be investigated is a simple 3D building frame made of steel beams and
columns. No contribution of the concrete slabs is considered to resist the loads (apart from the
transfer of the loads applied on the floors to the supporting beams obviously).
The geometry of the structure is described in Fig. 1, Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 (dimensions in meters).
The primary beams (span 7 m) are made of IPE550 profiles and the secondary beams (span 5
m) are IPE360. All the columns are HEB300 and are bent about their major axis in the plane
of the primary frames (longitudinal plane) and about their minor axis in the plane of the
secondary frames (transversal plane).
The column bases are assumed to be fully rigid for bending in both planes. The joints between
the primary beams and the columns are considered to be fully rigid for bending in the vertical
plane and nominally pinned for bending in the horizontal plane. The joints between the
secondary beams and the columns are modelled as perfect hinges for bending in both vertical
and horizontal planes.
The structure is braced in the transversal direction but it is not in the longitudinal one.
However, it can be classified as non-sway in both directions.
In this exercise, the global initial imperfection is not considered. Other simplifications are
also made (loading conditions, material behaviour law,), the aim of the exercise being to
focus on the robustness aspects.

Exercise 2

Fig. 1: Longitudinal view primary frame

Fig. 2: Transversal view secondary frame

Exercise 3

Fig. 3: Plan view and column numbering

2.2. Material
All beams and columns of the structure are made of S235 steel. The material behaviour law is
assumed to be elastic-perfectly plastic with an infinite ductility.

2.3. Joints
The joints linking the primary beams to the columns have been designed using the software
CoP. They are sufficiently rigid to be considered as fully rigid in the analyses (non-sway
frame). An internal and an external joint are represented in Fig. 4; they are detailed in the
Annex. Their main characteristics are reported in Table 1 below. The joints linking the roof
primary beams to the top of the columns are assumed to have the same characteristics as the
other ones.
Table 1: Joint characteristics

Moment resistance Shear resistance Initial stiffness

External joint , 448,35 . , 833,5 , 163657 . /
Internal joint , 334,14 . , 681,9 , 216028 . /

Exercise 4

(a) Internal joint (b) External joint

Fig. 4: Joints

2.4. Applied loads

For this exercise, the wind and snow loads are neglected. The unfactored loads to be
considered are the following ones:

Self weight of the concrete slab and permanent loads: 6,25 / (based on an
estimation of the slab thickness of 25 cm, with a self-weight of 25 kN/m ). The slab is
assumed to be simply supported by the primary beams (span of 5 m).

Variable loads: 3 / (recommended value for an office building according

to the Eurocodes). For sake of simplicity, this load is applied at each floor level,
including the roof (no snow load is taken into account).

The self-weight of the beam and column steel profiles (7850 !/ "
The combinations of actions to be considered for ultimate states are:

For persistent design situations (normal loads): 1,35 $ 1,5

For accidental design situations (accidental loads): $ 0,5
All the loads are assumed to be applied at the gravity centre of the profile cross section.

Exercise 5


3.1. Tying method

Check whether the primary and secondary beams and their end connections have the capacity
to constitute efficient horizontal ties according to the Eurocode (the joints at the extremities of
the secondary beams are not considered here).

3.2. Key element method (impact of a vehicle on a column)

This method is applied here considering the perimeter columns as key elements and a vehicle
impact as accidental event. So the building should be designed in such a way it is able to
sustain the collision of a lorry on any column adjacent to the roadways. The building is
located in urban area, at a corner of two roadways. The verifications of the elements are made
using equivalent static design forces and following Eurocode rules. Practically, an impact on
column 1 or 2 (see Fig. 3) has to be considered. If any element is found to fail under the
considered impact, design a new profile fulfilling the requirements.
1) All the analyses to determine the internal forces in the different elements are made
considering the profiles of the initially pre-designed structure. So the elements are
checked under these forces, even if some profiles have to be changed because the
initial ones do not fulfil the recommendations. In such a case, an analysis will be
made afterwards to check that the internal forces are not too far from the ones that
were considered for the design. No additional element verification will be made at that

2) For the column stability checks under impact loading, the following simplifications
are considered:
% &' 0
%( 1,5 (if the collision force induce major axis bending !!)
) 0,8 (if the collision force induce major axis bending !!)
%* 1 (for the bending plane corresponding to the impact)

3.3. Bridging method (loss of a column)

According to this method, the structural elements should be designed in order to resist the loss
of a specific element further to any unspecified exceptional event; which means the structure
has to sustain the loads corresponding to the accidental combination without the removed
element. The loss of column 2 is considered here. The verification procedure is based on a
first order elastic analysis. Check the structural elements and re-design them if necessary. Do
not forget the beam-to-column joints!

Exercise 6


4.1. Simplified manual approach transversal plane column 2

For this first manual application of the alternative load path method, the loss of column 2 is
considered and the vertical loads are supposed to redistribute through the transversal plane
only. The structure is also assumed to be perfectly braced in this direction, at both extremities
(Fig. 5). Consequently, the behaviour can finally be investigated using the sub-system
represented at Fig. 6.
This first basic example is unrealistic and mainly aims at understanding the development of
beneficial second order membrane effects in the beams permitting the stabilisation of the
system, which is hypostatic at first order.

Fig. 6: Simplified sub-system

Fig. 5: Perfectly braced secondary frame 1

For this first example:

Explain what the distribution of tension forces in the beams of the directly affected
part of the frame (i.e. above the lost column) will be;
Based on this distribution, explain how the behaviour of the frame can be studied
using the sub-system;
Investigating the behaviour of the sub-system, determine whether a final stable state
can be reached in the global frame;
In case it is possible, is the final stable state reached in the elastic or plastic range? In
case it is not possible to reach a stable state, explain why (failure mode?).
If it is now considered that only the top of the first storey is horizontally restrained at both
extremities and that the upper storeys are only braced at one side (Fig. 7):

Explain how the behaviour of the frame will change;

Use the sub-system to determine whether a final stable state can be reached in this

Exercise 7

Answer the same questions as before (if possible: in elastic or plastic domain; if not:

Fig. 7: Perfectly braced secondary frame 2 (upper storeys braced at one extremity only)

Discuss the validity of the assumption that the frame is braced at both sides. What would
happen if it is only braced at one extremity?

4.2. Numerical approach longitudinal plane column 3

Study the redistribution of forces within the structure (primary frame) further to the loss of
column 3, considering there is no contribution of the transversal plane. Does the structure
remain globally stable if the column is statically removed? If not, suggest changes to achieve
this goal.
This investigation is made through a numerical 2D geometrically and materially non-linear
analysis, under the following simplifications:

No out-of-plane buckling mode is considered;

The resistant moment of the joints is assumed to remain constant when axial loads
develop in the beams (no M-N interaction is considered for the joint resistance).
Explain the successive stages of the observed behaviour. What would change if the previous
simplifications had not been made?

4.3. Discussion longitudinal plane columns 5, 4, 2

What do you think would be observed if the loss of column 5, 4 or 2 was considered

Exercise 8


As a conclusion, it is asked to discuss and compare the different robustness approaches.

Exercise 9


1) Internal joint

2) External joint

Exercise 10

Exercise 11