PLANAR STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS

  1. The two principal types of planar structural elements are the load-bearing wall and the horizontal slab.
  2. A bearing wall acts as a long  thin column in transmitting compressive forces to its support or foundation Window and door openings within a bearing wall tend to weaken its structural integrity.
  3. Any opening must be spanned by an arch or a short beam called a lintel to support the wall load above and allow compressive stresses to flow around the opening to adjacent sections of the wall.
  4. A common pattern for bearing walls is a parallel layout spanned by floor joists and roof rafters, or by horizontal slabs.
  5. For lateral stability, pilasters and cross walls are often used to help brace bearing walls.
  6. While linear structural elements outline the edges of spatial volumes, planar elements such as bearing walls define the physical limits of space.
  7. They provide a real sense of enclosure and privacy as well and serve as barriers against the elements.
  8. Small beams or lintels are required to span openings in bearing walls.
  9. Varying degrees of spatial enclosure are possible with walls, depending on the size and location of openings within their planes.

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