Steel gains popularity in major construction projects

01Apr 2016
Dickson Ng`hily
The Guardian
Steel gains popularity in major construction projects

EXPERTS give three reasons why steel is extensively used in modern construction; flexibility, durability and affordability.

Speaking exclusively to Property Watch, Baseck Majigeh, a Dar es Salaam based steelwork specialist, said the demand for steel as a building material is growing in the construction industry.

The characteristics of steel make it ideal for many architectural applications, thus attracting consultants and developers when executing various construction projects.

“In today’s construction projects where time and schedule are of essence, these qualities become decisive in choosing the type of structure to be built.

No matter what kind of project you are working on, chances are you will be using steel in one form or another in order to complete the project,” he said.

The expert said that that construction is one of the most important steel using industries, accounting for more than 50 percent of world steel production.

Most of major buildings, from bungalows to high rise buildings, rely on steel for their strength and it is also used on roofs and as cladding for exterior walls.

Last year’s UN forecast indicates that world population will reach 8.5 billion come 2030 and 9.7 billion by 2050. This will be accompanied by rapid urbanisation.

As the need for buildings and infrastructure continues to grow worldwide, reducing consumption of natural resources and associated emissions is crucial for future sustainability.

Therefore, steelmakers are increasingly providing construction solutions that enable energy efficient and low-carbon-neutral buildings.

These solutions reduce the environmental impact over the structures’ life cycle and help to extend their life span through design for disassembly and reuse.

“Steel offers architects more design freedom in colour, texture and shape. Its combination of flexibility, durability and affordability gives architects broader parameters to explore ideas and develop fresh solutions.

Steel’s long spanning ability gives rise to large open spaces, free of intermediate columns or load bearing walls,” he noted

“In fact, its capacity to bend to a certain radius, creating segmented curves or free-form combinations for facades, arches or domes sets it apart.

Factory-finished to the most exacting specifications under highly controlled conditions, steel’s final outcome is more predictable and repeatable, eliminating the risk of on-site variability,” he added.

According to Wasatch Steel, an online resource for steel construction indicates that steel is used for a myriad of different projects, including construction of roads and rails, building infrastructure such as bridges and buildings, construction of modern architecture from skyscrapers and airports to residential homes and parks.

The online resource adds that Steel’s ability to maximise space and internal width with the thinnest shell possible means thinner, smaller structural elements are achievable.

Steel beam depths are around half that of timber beams, offering greater usable space, less materials and lower costs compared with other materials.

Wall thicknesses can be thinner because steel’s strength and excellent spanning capacity means there’s no need to build solid, space-consuming brick walls.

This can be particularly relevant for heavily constrained sites, where steel’s space-saving properties can be the key to overcoming spatial challenges.

It is said that in our days a building’s function can change dramatically and rapidly. A tenant may want to make changes that increase floor loads significantly.

Walls may need to be repositioned to create new interior layouts based on different needs and space usage. Steel-built structures can cater for such changes.

Non-composite steel beams can be made composite with the existing floor slab, cover plates added to the beams for increased strength, beams and girders easily reinforced and supplemented with additional framing or even relocated to support changed loads.

In addition to being one of the most durable materials available, steel products are also good for the environment. It is one of the few metals that are continuously recyclable, and any steel product that you use likely contains at least 25 percent recycled steel.

The recycling process does not break down or weaken steel, making it an ideal candidate for continuous reuse.
Steel buildings first gained popularity in the early 20th century.

Their use became more widespread during World War II and significantly expanded after the war when steel became more available.

Steel buildings have been widely accepted, in part due to cost efficiency. The range of application has expanded with improved materials, products and design capabilities with the availability of computer aided design software