Man-made structures are erected according to a requirement to serve a useful purpose, either to an individual, organization or society as a whole. If we take the example of a building structure, it protects its occupants from the environment. The first set functional requirements will be to keep out annoyances like noise, rain, cold, ice, snow and heat. In our radically changing world, new and more onerous requirements need to be considered, ranging from noxious pollution to the possibility of the structure having to withstand an extreme natural hazard, like with an earthquake or tornado. The fact is that structures, whether making up the fabric of our habitable buildings or supply infrastructure, need to be robust against the various annoyances and accidental situations that the structures will be exposed to. The generic damage-effect of climate change will likely make “natural” hazards much more extreme and potentially dangerous in the future. Climate change effects have the likelihood of radically degrading and bypassing the safety barriers of previously engineered design bases. In addition, due to the way in which our civilisation has evolved to the present day, with its commodity trade and service networks, our society more exposed and vulnerable to severe and potentially extreme shock-hazard scenarios. People and organisations implicitly depend on their structural fabric to be functional and safe. Regardless of the great diversity of structures, the one unvarying expectation is that they are robust enough to safely protect the structure’s users throughout their intended life period. However, judgements by structural engineers allied with interpretation of design codes and standards can vary greatly. There being a difficult balance between economy of construction and the ultimate robustness of the structural design solution.
This study paper investigates the relationship between robustness of our structural fabric and how important it is to achieving a resilient society, where people are safe, organisations are stable and the economy is sustainable. Essentially we will outline the key quantities that link structural robustness to societal resilience, and whether this crucial relationship is adequately reflected in application of structural design code and standards practice. The thinking logic and methodology provided in this CIGOS 2017 paper will take these key considerations and factors related structural robustness and resilience, the two principal parts of this paper encompass:-
Risk Analysis in relation to Robustness.
Qualitative - Holistic Systems Thinking;
Quantitative - Risk Analysis (QRA);
Reasons for Poor Structural Robustness.
Future Coping and Adaptability.
Structural robustness and resultant resilience;
Future design objectives;
Specific design principles and options.