Expressing the connections

Connections exert a strong influence on the architectural form. Pinned and rigid connections are quite distinct and produce quite different forms and details. The discontinuity of a pinned connection can either be accentuated and given a clear expression in the structural form, or, alternatively, it can be made less apparent. By drawing such distinctions in relation to the individual frame, and then to the whole building form, offers the basis for expression.

Rigid connections demand continuity between members and invite a different approach. They are required to transfer high moments and can appear heavy and complex. However, a rigid connection may also be achieved through parts that are pin-jointed, as simplified in Figure 3.13, and by example in the Sainsbury Centre

Architecture Steel Construction

in Figure 1.1. In these cases, moments are transferred by tension and compression in the connections.

The end wall of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, shown in Figure 3.14, illustrates an unusual application of the principle, where the typical pinned connection between the truss and column is elegantly transformed to a moment-resisting connection by the addition of a continuous tie from the 'gerberette' extension to the truss and attached to the foundations.

Depending upon the exact nature and locations of connections in a frame, the 'reading' of the individual members and the frame as a whole can vary markedly. This is further illustrated in Figure 3.15 for a three-bay frame, in which different formal relationships between members and individual bays are established by simply varying the locations of the pinned connections in the structure. All cases are structurally admissible, but can create entirely different details.

A good example of articulation within a structure is illustrated in Figure 3.16. Inclined 'arms' support slightly curved rafters and create a portal frame effect, allowing the connections to be expressed as nodes.

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