h a l f b a k e r y
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with a 30 pt currency fluctuation it is a
beneficial time to think of ways things
made of materials could be niftier;
people that have read a popular
technology magazine has hints that
dwellings could be made more splendid
plus cheaper IF building codes were
what if building
codes specified :
dimension; stiffness; durability, fastener
type rather than "quarter inch plywood"
might suddenly permit skinnier stronger
precast cement much improvable; view a
cinderblock that cinderblock could be
specified with dimension plus load
function; cinderblocks could have
microaggregate surface reducing the
number of coats of costly goop required
to create function; I'm sure mortar cups
have been studied yet cinderblocks have
planar joint surfaces; I think a more
readily coated,structurally sound
cinderblock with lighter cheaper
is rapidly produceable IF the building
codes are based on function() rather than
wiring is another area; what if wiring
just specified with load at less than a
degree of thermal generation; less
makes cheaper wiring; again specifying
function allow wiring with a function
load, less than a degree thermal
durability matters because a functional
specification like that creates an
opportunity to make Al wiring which
"oxidizes" cleverer to meet the durability
function; one version of cleverer would
gallium wetted Al that connects like a
fresh surface then gradually oxidizes
leaving a conductive path
Imagine the US getting together with
China to define a better cheaper
standard with ecological benefits, at this
writing Chinas GDP PPP was an eleventh
that of the US the combination of
preference for cheapest effective
technology plus developed world
standards could create awesome
functional building materials
||Building codes are, indeed, extremely
conservative. This is particularly true in
the UK and US, perhaps less so in more
||However, I suspect there is a very good
reason for specifying materials and
dimensions rather than function:
architects and builders are not always
||If I specify that a roof must be able to
shed water against a 50mph wind, then
it is up to the architect or builder to try
to figure out what is needed in order to
achieve that. It is also up to an
inspector or the housebuyer to
determine if the roof will actually do
what it is meant to do.
|| If, instead, I specify that the roof can
be either slates at a slope greater than
30 degrees, pantiles with a slope down
to 22.5 degrees, or continuous sheet
with a slope down to 3 degrees, then
there is no problem and no question:
those materials will work well at those
||Likewise, a builder may *think* that a
two inch pipe will perform the required
function of carrying waste containing a
certain amount of solids, but he may
very well be wrong. If the regs specify
a four-inch pipe with a fall of one foot
in ten, everyone knows it'll work.
||That is why the regs specify materials
and dimensions more often than
||Now, having said that, there is a need
for much more flexibility in building
regs. However, the way to achieve this
without a lot of very bad buildings
going up is as follows. Continue to
specify materials and dimensions, but
ensure that the regs allow for new
materials and new construction
methods. Then, the builder has the
choice of slates, pantiles, felt-roof,
green-roof, or electrostatically
rainproofed carbon nanotubes.
||Incidentally, your writing style is funny
when you're posting frivolous ideas, but
it's a pain in the arse when someone
actually wants to read the idea. What
does the second part of your first
sentence mean, for
||There is always a performance-based criteria for material assemblies in building codes. Building codes rely on international testing agencies to certify different assemblies. If you have a better assembly, get it UL listed and you will be rich.
||Automating the process of UL listing, so that anyone could propose an assembly would be a good idea.
||[says leinypoo13's architect girlfriend]
||Exactly - the codes specify materials and
dimensions that architects and builders
can work to; but those specifications are
based on defined functional criteria.
||I like this idea. [+]. My suspicion is that it should not replace the existing regulations but instead extend them, to cater for:
||//architects and builders are not always expert engineers.//
||...if you have an expert engineer (appropriately qualified) then you can have him sign off any materials and constructions against the function() constraints; failing which you have to use the noun constraints.
||There I go again, I was hoping for something super silly like the building code would be expressed as "f(longitude, latitude and altitude)" or something equally impossible to calculate on your own thus requireing a new industry for Code Function Calculators similar to the US tax preparers... sigh
||Building codes are designed to allow Building Inspectors to rapidly determine if design standards have been met. Generally if a blueprint is approved by an engineer (with non traditional materials) the inspector merely verifies that the design is followed. The building code is a set standard for safe design in a conventional structure. Any novel design needs the assistance and approval of a structural engineer.
||//Any novel design needs the assistance and approval of a structural engineer.//
If that is the case (and I know little about the US system) then it seems this idea is entirely baked, with the added safeguard that you need a qualified person to sign it off. [+]->[o] (good idea, shame it's baked).
||What [WcW] said. Our building code law effectively only says that a building must be sure to work. What that means in practice and in terms of the fine print is that, if a rational design has been prepared by a qualified and registered professional, by which the expectation that it will work may be rationally demonstrated, and the building is constructed in accordance therewith, the building is sure to work.
||Alternatively, if the building conforms to a standard called SANS 10400 it is deemed to be sure to work. SANS 10400 is not a law as such, it is a set of "deemed-to-satisfy" rules. If you're within SANS 10400, it is as if you've had a rational design done, even though you haven't.
||These apply as much to the architect's field of expertise as regards suitable dimensions for spaces, ergonomics, etc. as the structural engineer's field.
||There is a third possibility, adopted from the French, called the Agrément System, whereby specific approval is given for alternative or experimental techniques.
||However, what [cblunds] said. The problem is not so much that compliance is difficult as that proving it is a nuisance. I'd like to see a no-questions-asked scenario as regards local vernacular techniques. The current onus-of-proof situation favours the larger speculative builder over the affordable local custom builder of bygone days. These former operate on a basis which in turn justifies the onus-of-proof situation, and that results in a spiral of regulation feeding organizational power, requiring more regulation to contain the effects of the organizational power, which creates a need for more organizational power, and so on. I would like to see an opposite spiral induced by clever systemic adjustment.
||I don't know much about the structural side, but on the energy side, you have two options in meeting code: using the prescriptive or the performance method.
||Under the prescriptive method, you simply choose materials and equipment that meet the code. This is somewhat restrictive, and creative solutions don't always meet this code.
||Under the performance method, you're able to design whatever you want. Except the mechanical engineer must then model the energy performance of this building and compare it to the building as it would have performed under the prescriptive method. If you use less energy, it's allowed.
||Of course in other codes (say, fire protection) there really is no alternative. If you run a duct through a smoke barrier you need to use a UL-listed smoke damper. And that's it. Don't try to use your existing VAV box hooked up to a smoke detector - it simply won't be approved. This is probably a good thing when it comes to life safety, since limiting construction to widely-tested and simple equipment means there's less chance of something going wrong.