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Wobbly designer calls for bendier buildings

Arup report recommends structures that bend to prevent catastrophic collapse

Millennium Bridge designer Arup is calling on engineers to design 'bendier' buildings to help prevent disastrous progressive collapses like that at New York's World Trade Centre towers.

The structural engineer said more ductile structures which bend rather than snap under extreme loads are needed to 'increase the potential to resist progressive collapse'.

The plea is one of many recommendations in a £250,000, six-month study by the engineer into how to improve building performance in extreme events and increase public confidence in tall buildings.

The report states: 'Much research has been undertaken in the past into the ductility of structures commonly used in multi-storey construction.

'The time has come to use this knowledge to come up with practical rules for increasing the ductility of our structures, thus increasing the potential to resist progressive collapse.'

And the report says building designers should use designs developed by seismic engineers for earthquake resistant structures.

Key to the approach is to design 'weak links' or 'hinges' into the building structure, such as lower strength joints that absorb the energy of an earthquake, explosion or other impact by deforming while remaining intact.

Other suggested methods include dual stability systems, 'crumple zone floors' at intervals up the building and diaphragm floors which act as a doughnut ring unaffected by the loss of internal columns.

The report adds: 'Some of these ideas are less feasible than others, but the idea of increasing ductility in all beam end connections is one that can be realised in every building without significantly increasing construction cost or time.'