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Steel in architecture

Architecturally Exposed Structural Steelwork (AESS)

Architecturally Exposed Structural Steelwork forms an important part of the design and construction process for buildings. There exists a great need for improvement in the communication between architect, engineer and fabricator in this area. This also presents a new opportunity for Australian Steelwork and for the ASI to assist our industry in getting fair returns.

Engineers strive to design efficient, safe structures in which loads are understood and supported, creating a stable and durable building. However, it is the role of the architect to create an aesthetically pleasing and elegant structure.

AESS image 1 SA GrandstandAESS has significantly higher requirements for the form, fit and finish for fabrication, erection and coatings than regular structural steel so these must be taken into account throughout the development process. Structural engineers therefore become part of a triangle of communication in their documentation with the architect and the fabricator, especially affecting the way they design connections and their cost. This interactive design process is very different from the more linear process associated with ‘standard’ structural steel that is hidden from view and where the architect often steps back from detailed involvement.

With AESS, the architect sees the exposed connections as part of the design expression of the project. It is also important that designers have some insight into how the choice of steel and finishes will perform in-situ.

Appreciating this, the ASI arranged a national seminar series this November in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) to encourage the use of AESS and to aid in the communication process through the disciplines in the design and tendering process. A set of short online presentations from the seminar will appear on this website in due course.

To complement the seminar series, the CISC guide for specifying architecturally exposed steel by Terri Meyer Boakes has been adapted for the Australasian market by Steel Construction New Zealand (SCNZ) Manager, Alistair Fussell and the ASI's David Ryan.

The Australia/New Zealand guide for specifying architecturally exposed structural steel is available for purchase from the ASI Bookshop.

Completing the set and supporting the Guide are: