Posted by Dana Buntrock, University of California, Berkeley on August 21, 2003 at 07:17:32:
In Reply to: ArchWeek - Structural Aluminum posted by Kevin Matthews on August 21, 2003 at 00:09:44:
It seems to me that the article on structural aluminum leaves out one important factor (which is surely covered in the referenced book): fire. Since aluminum cannot withstand fire temperatures as high as those resisted by steel, additional precautions are needed for safety. This is why most examples covered in the article were secondary structures such as curtain walls, structures in marine/wet environments or non-inhabited structures.
Nonethess, Toyo Ito of Japan has recently built a house using aluminum beams and columns. His reasons were: it is more precise (look at it's edge profiles) and offers more versatile profiles because of the ease of fabricating new extrusions - something also seen in curtain wall production. I have appended one URL showing the house, below.
Ito also hoped to build an apartment building with aluminum structure in the Netherlands. The community killed the project for aesthetic reasons, but the plan there was to resist fire by filling the aluminum tube structure with water. These design projects, incidentally, received technical support from the aluminum industry, and the house was ultimately subsdized to make up for price differences that result from the lack of economies of scale compared with steel.
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