Architecture and Civil Engineering

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Ray Sammut and Associates

Architects and Civil Engineers since 1989

Specializing in Architecture, Civil and Structural Engineering, Project Management and Quantity Surveying

No. 4, Ta’ Xbiex Wharf, Ta’ Xbiex, Malta


Architectural and Structural Design of a Permanent and Demountable / Temporary Grandstand

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Permanent & Demountable Grandstand- Architectural Concept

Drawing No. 01 – Architectural and Structural design of a permanent and demountable (temporary) Grandstand

Drawing No. 02 – Architectural and Structural design of a permanent and demountable (temporary) Grandstand

Drawing No. 03 -Architectural and Structural design of a permanent and demountable (temporary) Grandstand

The chosen site for the proposed project in Hal far is currently a drag trip

surrounded by industrial buildings, a reserved site and a fire station. After familiarizing

myself with the site and gathering important information I started by designing the racing

circuit, while orienting the main grandstand North-East for a more effective solar

protection. Following the advice of my tutors, a meeting with Profs. K. Muller was held

in order to design a track that was aesthetically pleasing, safe and satisfying the allocated

space for the track. Several intersecting racing circuits were planned in order to satisfy

the briefs requirements, due to the different types of races taking place on different

occasions. Specifications regarding the F3 circuit include:

Direction of race Clockwise

Racing Circuit length 2950 m

Racing Circuit Width 15 — 20 m

Racing Circuit total number of turns 14 no.

Racing Circuit total number of turns (right) 6 no.

Racing Circuit total number of turns (left) 5 no.

Total number of straight sections 3 no.

The radius of the sharpest turn 9 m

Longest straight section in the racing circuit 620 m

Length of start finish section 500 m

Many define architecture as a language, were the form of a building represents its

functional use. One of the main requirements of a grandstand is to have a 180-degree

view implying open ends of the structure. Obviously the aesthetics of the grandstand is

normally governed by the structure. For this reason I started by exploring several

structural options which are include the following, since the choice of structure

dominates the architecture:

A cable-stayed structure,

A rigid frame having a moment connection,

A continuous truss having a cantilevered edge,

An inclined arch similar to the Hong Kong Stadium,

A bridge construction such as the Reebok Stadium.

While going through several case studies, books and other relevant information, I applied lateral thinking techniques to derive several ideas and finally some proposals. Ideas include symbolism (such as the racing head protection), the historical aspect of the site and the unique history of the island. Proposals included a dynamic, yet simple curved structure that starts parallel to the vertical plane at one end and finishes parallel to the horizontal plane at the other end. Another proposal consisted of two intersecting arches, one of which supports the shading device to the seated space while the other arch supports the first by means of cables. Traditional Maltese villages are set around a center which is normally a Catholic church that serves as a core to the village. One of the things I observed in the Industrial Estate of Hal Far is the fact that this estate lacks a reference point that is fundamental to one’s orientation. The fear of being lost on my first visits on site inspired me to an architectural concept in which my proposed structure should serve as a reference point (core) to the Industrial Estate as happens in the Maltese villages. Architect Mario Botta applied a similar idea at the Kyobo Tower in Seoul, South Korea. On the other hand, the smooth curves of the high-speed cars inspired me to create a dynamic curve implying movement while being simplistic.

Yearly activities require the capacity of the grandstand to be 8000 — 10,000 spectators while other activities taking place on a more regular basis attract much less spectators compared to the activity taking place on a yearly basis. For this reason, the proposed project consists of a demountable section that is mounted on the occasion of the yearly

activity together with a permanent section that caters for all the activities throughout the year. The demountable stand is subdivided into two divisions that are attached to the permanent stand on the grand occasion. On the other hand these two demountable sections may be attached together on other occasions such as when being hired throughout the year. A cable stayed demountable stand is easier to mount while consisting of vertical elements that contrast the dominant horizontality of the structure. Case studies used in designing this part of the structure include the Ta’ Qali National Stadium, Malta, Stoke on Trent Stadium, England, a case study in the Detail review of August – December 1993 together with a book ‘Stadia – a design and development guide’ by J. Geraint and S. Rod. A picture of these case studies is presented in the review. The poles are braced using tension cables so as to reduce the visual impact of this horizontal member. On the other hand the permanent stand structure consists of 3-D curved trusses forming a sector of an ellipse.

The curved 3-D trusses are supported by two pin connections, one of the supports being a concrete frame. The continuous 3-D curved truss spanning between the supports counterbalances the cantilever whose shape is optimized in order to reduce its weight by having a deeper steel section at the connection, which carries more moment. Due to stress concentrations which resulted at the other end the base was widened during the design process for better stress distribution, while preliminary sizing of a steel and concrete column was carried out for an approximate the size of column in the frame.

The permanent structure houses other facilities that are proposed by MEPA land uses or have a pending PA application. PA 00043/03 is an application of a proposed project for a Malta Transport Museum. Information regarding the design of spaces was obtained from the Internet, together with an interview with Dr. Philip Aguis (Ph.D. Arts, B.A., FIPD). This Museum shall also house an exchange organization founded by Dr. Aguis named ETMA (European Transport Museum Association) while being run by DBA’s (Disabled by Accident). The Malta Transport Museum shall also benefit from EU ERDF structural funds for the setting of cultural museums. A proposed parking space, suggested by MEPA land uses is to be utilized by factory workers, racing cars spectators and Malta Transport Museum visitors which is designed below an elevated piazza. The car park has vertical connections consisting of a lift and a stairway that are sheltered by a lightweight structure. On the occasion of the event happening yearly, off-site parking spaces are allocated and are connected to the grandstand by means of shuttle buses. Another means of transport are coaches that park just below the elevated piazza, which is accessed by means of stairways and ramps.

Demountable ticket booths are mounted on this yearly occasion. PA00661/01 is an application to provide a formal arrangement of markings for a flea market, which is a proposed activity in the piazza, which should render the space more of a center and a reference point.

The design of a grandstand should be as simple and straight forward as possible so as to orient spectators to their seating in a more ordered fashion. For this reason entrance points are distinct from exit points, were the latter was planned similar to a tree. A timed exit analysis was carried according to the UK guide to safety at sport complexes. The escape time from any seat is limited to 8 minutes. Following guidelines in books it was assumed that:

Spectators move along ramps and level floors at 100m per minute,

Spectators move along stairways (approx 33 degrees) at 30m per minute,

1 exit width (600mm) caters for 40 people per minute,

An entrance turnstile having a capacity of 660 spectators per hour.

Other considerations in the design process include:

T-junctions are designed for spectators to make not more than one decision at a

time since clarity is a priority,

Amenities are located at a safe distance from the entrance and exit,

A change of level by means of a short flight of steps (therefore change of pace)

serves to make spectators aware that they are entering a different area,

The seating elevation was worked out graphically using a ‘C’ value of 120mm so

that each seat is unobstructed from seeing the entire racing circuit. The design and

detail of the seats was obtained from the site

Other information was determined using books and standards which includes:

Male : Female ratio

Space requirements

Toilet provision including the ratio of urinals : toilets : washbasins

Facilities for disabled persons

Size of the carpark

Amount of spectators utilizing a coach or bus to arrive at the grandstand

The number of seats in a row

The size of the seats and spaces for comfort.

Three colors are mainly used in the exterior consisting of a light color, a neutral color and a dark color. Franka natural limestone gives an identity to the structure while white cladding helps the structure to blend with the surrounding environment. Finally a dark blue color is used for other steel frames together with the glazing.

Permanent & Demountable Grandstand-Structural Concept

Structures, ‘reveal their bold structural pattern during construction……. when

the outer walls are put in place, the structural which is the basis of all artistic

design is hidden in a chaos of meaningless and trivial forms’ — Mies van der


A structural concept should be designed at the initial stages of the project

together with an architectural concept. In this manner the two diverse

concepts would belong to each other giving a product of higher quality. For

this reason, many architects and civil engineers do not agree that the trivial

forms composing an artistic design should hide the structural forms, although

this is frequently adopted in normal life.

The structural concept adopted in the Hal Far Grandstand is easily deduced

from the architectural forms, since steel tension cables, masts, and threedimensional

trusses are exposed and characterize the architectural design. All

this can be easily observed by a quick glance at the architectural sketches

designed in the first semester.

Permanent Stand

The structural solution designed for the permanent stand entailed minimal

changes in the architectural design implying that both concepts were taken

care of in the initial stages of the project. The structural concept calls for

stability of the structure in all three planes.

A steel curved roof in the X-Y plane is formed in this sequence:

Trapezoidal sheeting having a high insulation value,

Zed purlins on which the trapezoidal sheeting is bolted,

Secondary steel trusses,

And primary three-dimensional curved steel trusses.

The three-dimensional steel curved truss is cantilevered at one end and

continuous over a steel column that is pinned at both ends in the Z-X plane so

as to serve as a roller support that is capable of taking movements in the

mentioned plane due to expansion and contraction of the truss. The other end

of the truss is pinned to a stocky foundation that supports all the threedimensional

curved steel trusses.

The steel roof of the permanent stand is braced using circular hollow sections

(CHS) in the X-Y plane since this type of section has good qualities of

resisting tension and compression. Trusses are tied together using end

beams and steel ties to ascertain that all the trusses work together and that all

load is distributed among all the elements possible. Further more the steel ties

bond the secondary trusses and the edge beam with a strong point, which is

the column.

A shear wall in the Z-X plane at level –1 together with a diagonal concrete

raker beam forming a triangle ensure stability of the concrete momentresisting,

no-sway frame in the Z-X plane. In the Z-Y plane, a shear wall in all

three levels on grid line D, ensures stability of the concrete frame in this

plane. To eliminate the need of shear walls in all concrete frames, a rigid plate

in each floor was designed so as to constrain all the concrete structure to

work together, thus guaranteeing stability.

T-shaped pre-cast concrete steps with nose are designed in a manner that

drains water off the steps while being watertight with elements such as a

water drip and water stop. Pre-stressed reinforcement is adopted in the

vertical section of the step while the thread of the step is designed laid to falls

with a rounded nosing at the end.

This form of architecture calls for a great flexibility in the design of space. For

this reason, many block-work partitions are thought to be non-load bearing so

as to grant flexibility. This may be viewed as an extra cost in most

circumstances, however it is considered essential in some categories of

buildings so as to grant a long life of the building since the building can be

modified and updated with different technologies and ideas that are presented

from time to time.

Demountable Stand

Due to the fact that yearly activities require a grandstand seating capacity up

to 10,000 spectators, while other activities taking place on a more regular

basis attract much less spectators, two demountable stands are to be erected

on the occasion of the yearly activity together with the permanent section that

caters for all the activities throughout the year. A considerable number of

changes had to be adopted so as to design a self-erecting stand that would

be easily erected and demounted in different locations.

The cable-stayed structure has the advantage reducing the span of the

cantilever. The front steel tension cable AF resists uplift of the demountable

stand roof. Stability of the main frame in the Z-X plane is obtained by bracing

the seating stand together with weights put up on the base of the stand that

prevent the main frame from toppling over. Alternatively, holding down bolts

may be utilized instead of the weights so as to grant stability of the frame.

However holding down bolts may require a considerable amount of work in

some sites, rendering this idea unsuitable in some cases.

The base supports of the main frame are directly placed on concrete column

at level -1 in order to transfer loads loading from the main frame directly to

the foundations. The main frame is braced at the end bays using circular

hollow sections in the Z-Y plane. In this manner any horizontal loading such

as wind loading is directly transferred to the base through the steel bracing

eliminating additional stresses in the peripheral ties.

The X-Y plane is braced in the seating plane, and also at roof level using steel

tension cross-braced cables which supply the roof with the required rigidity

together with the end trusses, in order to grant stability of the structure.

Bracing is required in all three planes (horizontal roof, and the two vertical

planes) in order to:

Provide stability of the grandstand (even during the erection process),

Resist wind loading acting in the horizontal plane,

Provide an adequate anchorage of the purlins and sheeting rails in

order to restrain the main frame.

Anti-sag rods where designed in the purlins midpoint dividing the span of the

purlins into two while being braced at the higher bay in order to constrain the

steel cables to resist force in tension. Anti-sag rods restrain the purlins while

reducing the possibility of misalignment when fixing the cladding.

The seating plane is also braced in all the three planes, however the seating

main frame is designed every 2.6m, that is three seating bays are designed in

every bay of the main frame. This permits a reduction in size of the elements

allowing circular hollow sections to be easily handled even though the seating

frame has to carry large loads. On the other hand, the vertical distance

between two horizontal members in the Z-Y and Z-X plane is less than the

height of a person, thus eliminating the need of using scaffolds in the erection

and demounting process.

The load cases having a major effect on the structure are load case one; 1.6

live load + 1.4 dead load and load case two; 0.9 Dead load + 1.4 wind Uplift.

In the former load case, the load is transferred by Bending moment and shear

of the corrugated sheeting and zed purlins. Main beam AC resists this loading

by bending moment and shear. The steel cable resists tension, however

induces and axial force in beam AC. The tensile force in cable BD is

transferred to a tensile force in member DE and a compressive force on

member CD. Column CG has an axial load due to member CD, dead weight

of members BD, DE and peripheral ties, self-weight of the member together

with a compressive force resulting from shear at connection C. The axial load

of main beam AC results in a horizontal point load on column CG. The column

acts as a cantilever, thus resisting the load by bending and shear.

In load case two, the uplift force is resisted by main beam AC that acts as a

simply supported beam, were cable AF is in tension. The vertical reaction at

point C is counter balanced by the downward factored dead weight on the

structure. The horizontal wind loading in Load case 3 and 4 was considered to

act on the front edge truss resulting in direct axial compression of the main

beam. However the force induced was inferior to that produced by load case

1. Factored wind load 2 was calculated and main beam AC was checked

about the minor axis restrained by the purlins.

Member CD was initially designed as a Circular Hollow Section CHS, however

it resulted in a large section. For this reason, this element was redesigned

using two rectangular hollow sections. The length of this member was

increased in order to reduce the forces in the tension cables by increasing

angle BDC.

A conceptual erection procedure was designed by observing self-erecting

tower cranes. The main frames are easily towed on site and connected to a

local power supply or a generator. They are then levelled and erected via a

wireless remote control. Every bay incorporates two main frames that are

opened apart from one another in the Y-Z plane using hydraulic cylinders. The

trapezoidal sheeting is mounted on the zed purlins together with the edge

beam, bracing and a side beam that grants rigidity of the roof bay while being

lifted from four points using a motor incorporated in the self erecting bay and

when bolted into place. The seating frame is then erected using a technology

similar to scaffold erection, thus requiring only simple manual tools.


This post has been brought forward by Architects Malta (Architects and Structural / Civil Engineers)

Architectural Design – Hall and Office Building

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