Author: J. Miller (CTP Consulting Engineers)
1 May 2016
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J. Miller (CTP Consulting Engineers)
The term “filler joist” is a generic one used for certain types of building floors dating in particular from the late Victorian era to World War II. These may commonly have embedded iron or steel joists. Those of earlier date, from the 19th century, can have wrought iron sections, or even cast iron tees in early floors. They span one way between beams or bearings, and are encased in concrete made with coke-breeze, clinker, broken brick or conventional aggregates.
The filler-joist floor was – at the time – a very important structural development, now long superseded by other systems, such as flat slabs and composite decks. It grew out of an enthusiastic age of Victorian invention that had created a wide range of proprietary, patented make-ups that all worked in a roughly similar way. Filler joists are encountered frequently in the alteration and remodelling of large office and institutional buildings.
Historic buildings and structures, like any other, move to some degree, whether due to thermal effects, changes in moisture levels in the structural fabric, influences on the founding subsoil, or environmental forces. The key question for the conservation engineer is to determine whether the movement is progressive and presents a risk to the structure. This article introduces engineers to the various techniques available to monitor movement in historic structures, from simple manual techniques which are less commonly used today, to sophisticated electronic systems. The form of monitoring will depend on the nature of the assumed movement, the funds available, and the possible consequences if the movement is progressive.
This article looks at some aspects of floor loading and how its application has changed for the better. It encourages a careful consideration of loadings to avoid unnecessary and irreversible loss of fabric through the application of significant strengthening schemes, cutting away existing historic framing.
As structural engineering students, we learn about mild steel, modern design and construction methods. However, historic structures often do not fit into this mould. Whether you work in conservation or are a general practitioner, you are likely to come across cast iron, wrought iron, as well as early mild steel structures.