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Structural engineers and building services engineers need to work together very closely to ensure that the decisions made by the structural engineer will suit the building’s comfort requirements. The reverse is also true, as the technical requirements of a particular services solution may dictate elements of the structural design. Guidance is given in the joint Concrete Society/BSRIA publication Services integration with concrete buildings.
It is a common occurrence for holes to be cast or cut into concrete elements to allow for the passage of services. Wherever possible, the structure should be designed to include a service zone to minimise the need for holes for service runs. Preplanning is obviously preferable to retrospective provision of any holes or openings. Such holes are designed into the structural configuration so that the resulting stresses are distributed and do not compromise the structure. There may be a requirement to cut holes at a later stage, either due to poor planning or because of a need for new or additional services. Clearly such holes must not seriously affect the strength of the structure.
Services such heating and cooling ducts, electrical conduits and light fittings may be cast directly into the concrete. Services integration with concrete buildings gives various examples, covering both in-situ and precast concrete. Great care must be taken that the cast-in units are not damaged or displaced during concreting. There may be a need to provide some duplication to provide some redundancy in the event of failure or to provide flexibility for future requirements.
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