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formerly Central European Journal of Engineering

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Structural analysis of conditions determining the selection of construction technology for structures in the centres of urban agglomerations

Elżbieta Radziszewska-Zielina
  • Corresponding author
  • Cracow University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering, ul. Warszawska 24, 31-155 Cracow, Poland
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  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Grzegorz Śladowski / Ewelin Kania
  • Cracow University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering, ul. Warszawska 24, 31-155 Cracow, Poland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-12-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/eng-2018-0054

Abstract

The process of constructing structures and the selection of technology is difficult due to a series of highly varied conditions - which are often difficult to foresee - associated with the construction of a building within a city centre. The goal of the article is the performance of a structural analysis of the most commonly occurring conditions that need to be considered in the context of the selection of a technology of constructing buildings in the centre of an urban agglomeration. Based on a literature study that had been performed, aswell as on a survey study performed on expects, the authors listed and characterised conditions that occur during the construction of structures in the centres of urban agglomerations. Afterwards, experts determined the impact of these factors and their mutual relations in the context of the selection of the technology of the construction of said structures. In order to determine the involvement and the role of the factors in the context of the selection of a technology of the construction of a structure, as well as its analysis, the authors used the WINGS (Weighted Influence Non-linear Gauge System) modelling and structural analysis method. This method takes into account both direct, as well as indirect relations between these factors. The study contained in the article constitutes a basis for the development of a comprehensive systemic approach supporting the decision-making process associated with the selection of a construction technology for a building to be built in the centre of an urban agglomeration.

Keywords: technology; construction organisation; WINGS (Weighted Influence Non-linear Gauge System); urban agglomeration

1 Introduction

Carrying out construction projects is a complicated process, both in terms of technology and organisation. Numerous authors pointed to various problems that appear during construction [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. A large number of construction projects are being carried out in urban agglomerations, which is tied to additional conditions [6, 7, 8, 9]. The publications [10, 11] listed conditions that appear during the carrying out of construction projects in the centre of an urban agglomeration based on a literature study, as well as on the basis of a survey performed on a group of experts in construction.

The subject being discussed is very broad and it is often written about by a significant number of authors. Difficulties associated with the logistics of construction sites and their surroundings that appear during the construction of buildings in the centre of an urban agglomeration were highlighted by authors [12, 13, 14, 15]. Another condition is the fact of the surroundings constituting a high-density built-up area [16, 17] as well as the problem of performing deep excavation that is associated with it [18, 19, 20], the erection of skyscrapers [21, 22] and the essentials of the planning of the construction of buildings [23]. Authors also point to the often encountered problem of limited construction site space [24, 25]. Another highly significant factor that influences the process of constructing buildings in the centres of urban agglomerations is their effect on circulation [26, 27, 28] which causes live loads. Simultaneously, there can be many other reasons for the occurrence of live loads, among them being seismic activity, placement within an area of mining activity, as well as mining damage. Live loads are equally important and inconvenient, and at times even destructive, in the case of the effect of the carrying out of a construction project on neighbouring structures, including historical ones [29, 30, 31]. The inconveniences that affect the residents of the surroundings of the structure include dirt, noise and traffic obstruction [32, 33, 34]. According to construction law, there is a requirement to obtain a building permit. In the case of the carrying out of construction projects in the centre of an urban agglomeration the number of administrative documents, permits and official approvals increases, particularly in the case of the construction of buildings which are publicly funded [35, 36], which can have an effect on their completion time.

These conditions affect the entire technological and organisational process of a construction project. A large number of essential and difficult decisions that need to be made during the carrying out of a construction project in the centre of an urban agglomeration require taking the abovementioned conditions into consideration. They are of particular importance in the case of selecting the construction technology for a structure. There are a number of variants of construction technology that can be used in high-density urban built-up areas [37], for instance:

  • – prefabricated concrete construction technology,

  • – monolithic concrete construction technology,

  • – prefabricated and monolithic concrete construction technology,

  • – metal construction technology,

  • – timber construction technology.

An appropriately selected technology can, to a certain degree, reduce the inconvenient effects of new and existing conditions within the centres of urban agglomerations. Decision-makers perform comparative analyses of alternatives in terms of technological solutions, and the selection of the most beneficial variant of carrying out construction work is most often performed on the basis of the experience of the participants of a construction project (developer, designer, construction site director).

The goal of this article is a structural analysis of the most commonly occurring conditions that need to be taken into consideration in the context of the selection of the technology of the construction of buildings in the centre of an urban agglomeration. The results of the analysis will make it possible to develop a proper approach to decision-making in this regard in the future.

The first stage of the discussion will cover the construction of a model on the basis of the most commonly occurring conditions identified by experts, as well as the direct dependencies and relations (including so-called feedback loops) between them.

During the second stage, an analysis of the model will be performed with the use of the WINGS method (Weighted Influence Non-linear Gauge System), which is a method of structural modelling.

2 Stage I - Identification of conditions and the construction of the model of the relations between them

The identification of conditions was performed on the basis of results from a survey study that had been performed and published in a publication on the subject of the problem of the selection of a technology of the construction of a structure due to the constraints and limitations that occur in the centre of an urban agglomeration [10]. The survey study is a research method that provides useful information and tools for the solving of problems [38]. The study was performed among a group of experts from the construction sector. The authors of the article prepared a questionnaire composed of three sections: a filtering questionnaire and two tables for rating the importance of the conditions in the selection of a construction technology.

The surveyed group consisted of 10 experts who had been selected on the basis of a filtering questionnaire (Contract Managers, Construction Site Managers, Construction Work Managers). Persons who met three criteria were considered to be experts. The first criterion was work experience in the construction sector - the minimal period was 10 years (8 respondents with 10-20 years of experience in the construction sector, 2 respondents with over 20 years). All of the respondents had worked on contracts worth in excess of 50 million PLN, in addition to carrying out construction projects in the centre of a city. The construction projects that the experts worked on were being carried out in the largest cities of Poland, i.e. Warsaw, Krakow, Poznań, Łódź, Wrocław, Opole, Katowice, Gdynia, Gdańsk, as well as abroad - in Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt am Main.

2.1 Characteristics of the conditions

The conditions that occur in the centres of urban agglomerations that had been listed on the basis of previous research, as well as over the course of a literature study, were systematised and characterised in Table 1, in addition to being presented to experts for the purpose of rating the impact of a given condition and the evaluation of the mutual dependencies between the conditions.

Table 1

Characteristic of the typical conditions present during the construction of buildings in the centre of an urban agglomeration Original work.

2.2 Defining the relations between the conditions in the context of the carrying out of a construction project in the centre of an urban agglomeration

The conditions that were identified and listed above feature a co-dependent and non-linear character of mutual relations, which is why an appropriate method had had to be selected for performing their structural analysis. The WINGS method (Weighted Influence Non-linear Gauge System) proposed in the article, developed by [39], is a method of the structural modelling of complex systems within which dependencies between elements are nonlinear. In this method, the user determines the elements of the system that they deem to be significant from the point of view of the problem being discussed. The modelling of the dependencies between the elements of this structure is being performed with the use of a direct influence graph - Figure 1 - where the tips represent elements of the structure and the arches define the direction and the intensity of the influence of an element on the other elements. The advantage of the WINGS method over other known structural modelling methods (e.g. the classic DE-MATEL method [40]) is that, apart from taking into account the aforementioned intensity of influence, it also considers the impact of the elements, as the final effect of the influence between the elements of the system depends on a combination of both of these factors, instead of solely relying on the intensity of influence as in the DEMATEL method. This is why in the WINGS method the tips of the graph also feature the weights that describe the impact of the elements modelled by said tips within the system.

Example of a direct influence graph, defining the dependency structure between the elements of a system: a) starting graph, b) graph with a numerical characteristic of the impact of the elements (Ci(aij)) and their influence (aij). Original work.
Figure 1

Example of a direct influence graph, defining the dependency structure between the elements of a system: a) starting graph, b) graph with a numerical characteristic of the impact of the elements (Ci(aij)) and their influence (aij). Original work.

For the analysed problem, an evaluation of the impact of the conditions presented in Table 1 and the intensity of the influence between the conditions was performed by 10 experts using a five-point verbal scale, to which numerical values were assigned in accordance with Table 2.

Table 2

Scale of the verbal ratings of the impact and influence, as well as their corresponding numerical values. Original work based on [39].

3 Stage II – structural analysis of total relations (direct and indirect) between the analysed conditions

In order to determine the involvement and the role of the conditions in the context of the construction of a structure within the centre of an urban agglomeration, the authors used the mathematical apparatus of the WINGS method, which takes into account both direct and indirect dependencies between said conditions. In general, the algebraic scheme of the WINGS method is based on the starting values of the direct expert ratings being entered into matrices, the sum of all the powers of which, in the liminal sense, returns the result values in the analysed model.

3.1 Determining the involvement and role of the conditions in the context of the construction of a building in the centre of an urban agglomeration

Obtained using the WINGS method algebraic apparatus (with each matrix corresponding to expert k) the total impact-influence matrices Tk = {tijk}, i, j = 1, . .. , n, k = 1, 2, . .. , K were subjected to aggregation using the weighted mean method, into a generalised total impact and influence matrix Tk = {tij}, i, j = 1, . .. , n, Table 3, which constitutes the basis for obtaining the final results of the analysis.

Table 3

Aggregated matrix of the total impact and influence (direct and indirect) between the analysed conditions. Original work.

The results will be determined by calculating the total influence value ri for system element i and its total susceptibility ci in accordance with the following dependencies:

ri=j=1ntij,ci=j=1ntji

The sum of the values ri and ci defines the total involvement of system element i, while their difference informs us of the role this element plays within the system. A positive value of the difference rici defines element i as a cause, while a negative value labels it as a result within the analysed system. The absolute value of the difference rici defines the strength of the abovementioned causal (effectual) character of the element in question (Table 4). In order to make the analysis of the relations between the elements of the system easier, the values that were obtained can be presented in graphical form through a two-dimensional coordinate system, creating a so-called impact-relation map (impact-relation map – IRM) (Figure 2). The values of the sum ri + ci are defined on the axis of ordinates, while of the difference rici on the axis of abscissas.

Table 4

The resultant values for each element of the system (the values of total influence, total susceptibility, total involvement and role within the system, respectively). Original work.

Impact-relation map – IRM for the problem being discussed. Original work. C1 - Considering the impact of the surroundings on the building; C2 - Taking into consideration paraseismic activity (mining damage); C3 - Taking into consideration soil and groundwater conditions; C4 - Logistic difficulties of a site; C5 - Logistic difficulties of the surroundings; C6 - Live loads; C7 - Architectural conservation; C8 - Taking protected areas into consideration; C9 - Inconvenience to the surroundings caused by performing work; C10 - The necessity of performing deep excavation; C11 - Administrative requirements.
Figure 2

Impact-relation map – IRM for the problem being discussed. Original work.

C1 - Considering the impact of the surroundings on the building; C2 - Taking into consideration paraseismic activity (mining damage); C3 - Taking into consideration soil and groundwater conditions; C4 - Logistic difficulties of a site; C5 - Logistic difficulties of the surroundings; C6 - Live loads; C7 - Architectural conservation; C8 - Taking protected areas into consideration; C9 - Inconvenience to the surroundings caused by performing work; C10 - The necessity of performing deep excavation; C11 - Administrative requirements.

3.2 Analysis of the results

As it has already been mentioned, the values of total impact and relation of the elements of the system and their total involvement and role within the system constitute the result of the analysis of the problem that was performed.

The total involvement values ri + ci determined the ranking of the conditions within the system. From the analysis above, we can see that the value of the sum ri + ci was the highest in the case of the condition associated with the generation of live loads by a structure (during its construction phase) on the surroundings (C6). Taking into consideration the influence of the surroundings (e.g. public transport, existing buildings) on a structure due to its specific location (C1) had only a slightly lesser impact on the system. The third place in terms of total involvement was occupied by conditions associated with the protection of historical monuments located within the zone of influence associated with the construction of the structure (C7) in addition to the frequent necessity of performing and securing deep excavations determined by the character of the structure (e.g. underground parking facilities) (C10). Environmental conditions (C9) and (C8) had a slightly lower involvement within the system. The share of the remaining conditions within the system was rather moderate..

The positive value of the relations indicator rici, for logistics-related conditions (C4) and (C5) meant that they acted as a cause rather than an effect in relation to the remaining elements of the system. However, the lack of a clearly defined role (cause and effect) within the system for ground and soil conditions (C3) and the necessity of the performance and securing of deep excavations (C10) was observed.

4 Conclusion

The structural analysis of the most commonly occurring conditions in the context of the construction of a structure within the centre of an urban agglomeration concerned a general example and was performed on the basis of the many years of experience of the experts who had taken part in the study. It should be noted, however, that the type of conditions, as well as their impact and mutual relations will be determined individually for every project, which needs to be taken into consideration first.

As it can be seen from earlier studies, in the majority of cases so far the decision concerning the selection of the construction technology of a structure was being made on the basis of discussions between the participants of the process and on the basis of the practitioners’ own experience. A tool that can support this decision-making process is required. The study constitutes a basis for the development of a comprehensive systemic approach that can support the decision-making process associated with the selection of a technology of the construction of a structure within the centre of an urban agglomeration.

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About the article

Received: 2018-05-09

Accepted: 2018-06-19

Published Online: 2018-12-31


Citation Information: Open Engineering, Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 463–469, ISSN (Online) 2391-5439, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/eng-2018-0054.

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© 2018 E. Radziszewska-Zielina et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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