The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 88 (2010) > Issues > Issue 15/16 > Automated structural design and optimisation
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Automated structural design and optimisation

This paper applies a novel structural optimisation method to three case studies: a simple portal frame used to illustrate how the method works, a large warehouse and a 60-storey building. The method is based on the principle of virtual work and is called the Virtual Work Optimisation (VWO) method. The VWO method selects member sizes in an automated way to meet strength and deflection design criteria. An optimal structure is defined as one that satisfies all design constraints using the minimum amount of material. The warehouse example was chosen for comparison purposes as it was designed by a company of professional engineers. The VWO method designed the warehouse in less than 2 minutes and produced a 3.5% saving on the engineers’ solution. The 60-storey building was optimised in 189 iterations to produce a structure satisfying 60 deflection constraints and strength requirements for 1080 members. The VWO system is significantly faster than other optimisation methods reported in the literature. R. Walls, BSc (Eng) Research assistant, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand Prof. A. Elvin, PhD, SM, BSc(Eng) Associate Professor, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand