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Introduction to the design of simple industrial buildings


To describe the reasons for the use of steel and to present common forms of structure for industrial buildings.


The reasons for the wide use of steel for industrial buildings are highlighted. The advantages of steel include its high strength-to-weight ratio, speed of erection, and ease of extension. Steel is used not only for members but also for cladding.

Common types of structure are described. These types include portal frame, lattice girder, and truss construction. It is shown that overall stability is easily achieved. The wide variety of sections used in industrial buildings is presented. Possible approaches to global analysis are identified.


A wide variety of building types exists, ranging from major structures, such as power stations and process plants, to small manufacturing units for high quality goods.

The most common type is the simple rectangular structure (see Figure 1), typically single-storey, which provides a weatherproof and environmentally comfortable space for carrying out manufacturing or for storage. First cost is always an overriding consideration, but within a reasonable budget a building of good appearance with low maintenance requirements can be achieved. While ease of extension and flexibility are desirable, first cost usually limits the provisions which can be usefully included in the design for these potential requirements. Although savings in the cost of specific future modifications can be achieved by suitable provisions, for example by avoiding the use of special gable frames (see Figure 2), changes in manufacturing processes or building use may vary the modifications required.

When the budget is more liberal, the building is also contributing to the image and reputation of the owner and will be part of the branding of the company. A complex plan shape or unusual structural arrangement may provide a building of architectural significance.

While many features are common to all industrial buildings, this lecture deals mainly with single-storey buildings of straightforward construction and shape.

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