Thursday, 30 November 2017

Building Jokes

There was a tweet a while a ago from Nick Grant @ecominimalnick with a picture of a structural engineering joke.

I didn't get it at first, but the joke is that the round black things with the bolts in are supposed to be stopping the walls from bulging, by bolting them onto the floor. Clearly the floor is not in the middle of the windows. This may be a deliberate joke, but I don't think the other pictures are.

A couple of my students did start laughing when I showed them this picture, which Sam sent me. I'd been talking about the relative merits of glass, air and aluminium in window construction, and they found this very funny, although I doubt the joke is deliberate.

I asked them to calculate how much glass and how much frame there was. They all guessed around 70% glass and 30% frame, but actually it's closer to 55% frame and 45% glass.

It's even funnier when you notice the unmelted snow, and see where the sun is coming from and realise this is a North-facing window. So not only is the aluminium going to reduce the performance of the glass, it's not going to get much sunlight coming in. It's possible there is some fantastic view that these windows look at, but even then, most of the view will be obscured by frame.

Of course traditional houses in the UK aren't much better.

I also showed them the windows below from a brand new concert hall in a nearby city. Due to my photographic inability, it's a bit difficult to work out what's going on, but basically the external surface area has been needlessly increased by around 20%, and it's aluminium too.

This time the joke is on the city tax payers, who will be getting the heating bill.