Building structures refers to human-made objects that are built to serve for specific purposes, such as human habitation and trading activities. These structures form a division of physical structures that are built through construction. Building structures are often designed and constructed in various shapes, sizes, and for different functions. Various building structures have been adopted by man for various factors over a long period of time. Some of these factors that may define the purpose of a structure include availability of building materials, changes in weather conditions, constructor’s specific reasons, aesthetic factors as well as prices of land and building materials. According to Ambrose and Tripeny (2011), a building structure refers to any object constructed to serve a specific purpose, such as acting as a habitat for human beings.
History of Building Structures
The history of building structures can be dated back to more than five hundred thousand years ago. Historians believe that the first structures, in form of a shelter, were constructed approximately five hundred thousand years ago. These structures were built by ancient Homo erectus who happened to be the early ancestors of the present day humans.
Types of Building Structures
Building structures can be broadly categorized as residential structures or multi-story structures. Residential structures refer to those structures that are used for dwelling purpose. They provide shelter for human beings, for example, homes or houses. Residential structures usually provide humans with security and protection from environmental harm.
On the other hand, multi-storey structures are those that have multiple floors, usually upwards. Most multi-storey structures are used for commercial purposes. According to Millais (2005), multi-storey structures intend to increase the area covered by the structure, thereby making good use of the scarce land resources. They target at maximum utilization of the available land. A good example of present day multi-storey structures are skyscrapers built in various large cities of the United States of America, some areas of the United Arab Emirates, and other parts of the world.
Creation of Building Structures
Building structures are often created through efficient design and construction. This process involves the use of a team of professionals, usually architectures, building and construction engineers, who work together to design and construct the structures in accordance to the structural plan.
The size of this team of professionals, who come up with the building structures, will depend on various factors, such as the size of the structure, complexity of the structural plan, purpose of the structure, and the availability of construction resources (Rowe, 2008).
If the structure is more complex, then additional building professionals may be required. These include real estate developers, quantity surveyors, interiors designers, construction site managers, and contractors, who provide auxiliary services, such as security systems installation, installation of telecommunication systems and fire protection systems. For building structures constructed for commercial purposes, marketing agents and facility managers may be required to sell it, and to take responsibility for the structure.
It is also important to note that the construction of all building structures is regulated by specific laws and regulations. These laws, regulations and building requirements vary from one country to another. However, there are internationally recognized rules that control the construction of all structures; for example, tall buildings with more than five floors are required to have lifts or escalators that help people move in the structure. Additionally, there should be a fire protection system to ensure security of users of such structures.
Drawbacks of Building Structures
Most building structures face different weaknesses, ranging from financial constraints during construction and maintenance to damages by natural calamities and terrorist activities. Similarly, they may face political influence, for instance, formulation of stringent laws and regulations that govern and control the putting up of such structures (Ching, Onouye, & Zuberbuhler, 2011).
Certain laws may also prohibit the construction of certain types of structures in certain areas; for example, building of residential structures may not be allowed in industrial areas and in mining zones.
Environmental Impact on Building Structures
Building structures can be severely affected by changes in the environment. Certain natural catastrophes, such as earthquake and hurricanes, also have negative impacts on such structures. For examples, most structures were severely damaged by earthquakes in Japan in the quarter of 2011. Strong winds and hurricanes usually bring down building structures. Excessive rains can also destroy building structures.
Additionally, terrorism activities have also destroyed numerous buildings. A good example is the World Trade Center that was brought down through terrorists attack in September 2001. In 1998, an embassy of the United States of America in Nairobi was destroyed by alleged terrorist.
Ground shakes and earthquakes cause collapse of structures. Moreover, landslides may also cause unexpected fall and destruction of a number of structures; for example, in 1969, a landslide occurred along the coastal plains of Peru, and caused more than one thousands structures to fall. It was believed that the landslide was generated by the earthquake.
Sustainability of Building Structures
Building structures must be built in a manner that would facilitate their resistance to external forces, such as wind, rain, and ground shakes. Construction engineers must be able to understand the capability of building structures to withstand such forces; for example, it is important to note that tall buildings may be more severely affected by earthquakes than short buildings.
Adequate precautions must be taken during the design and construction of building structures. The building professionals must ensure that structures must be put up in accordance to the set standards. Additionally, adequate resources must be used during construction of the building structures.
According to Shaeffer (2005), there are two main approaches that can be used to secure structures from environmental factors. First, the building components, such as walls and foundation can be secured by making all parts behave like a single firm unit. Secondly, the structures can be built in a manner that allows distortion without breaking, thus it is possible to absorb and withstand exterior destructive energy. Shaeffer further urges that when these two approaches are combined together, the resultant structures will be able to withstand moots destructive forces, especially those forces that result from the ground shakes and the earthquakes.
In conclusion, it is important for construction professionals to ensure that structures that they built are strong enough to sustain the negative impacts of nature and human activities on these structures. This can be achieved through adherence to building and construction laws. Similarly, they must ensure that the high quality materials are used during construction of such structures, for example, strong steel metal, high quality cement, and preserved wood or timber. The safety of the building structures should be paramount and be given the highest consideration.
It is also advisable that people practice natural building. This is when structures are built in accordance to their sustainability. It implies the use of building resources that are abundantly available, and can be renewed or recycled.