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Innovative non-invasive assessment of structures
This paper provides details for a new and innovative methodology for the understanding, appraisal and testing of existing building structures. Assessment of structures requires knowledge and experience, combined with a practical understanding of how structures work. When existing structures need to be inspected and assessed, the structural engineer or building surveyor is often expected to have X-ray eyes. Lacking such a gift, and despite what clients may assume, they draw instead on knowledge and experience to make value judgments in many situations, with appropriate margins of safety and consideration of appropriate risk incorporated along the way. Codes of practice and British Standards provide a useful reference to assist with this process, but often sound judgment needs to underpin decisions made. This paper introduces the technique of non-invasive dynamic testing for assessing existing structures and provides examples of its use. The technique can be used on a range of applications to provide an understanding of how existing structures are actually behaving, rather than using more traditional conservative assessments that rely on a range of assumptions made on material properties, member interaction and support conditions. As a non-invasive option to traditional appraisal techniques it has wide ranging benefits in the heritage sector, but additionally provides significant economic benefits compared to existing solutions.
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Jon Avent is a chartered structural engineer, accredited conservation engineer with over 25 years’ experience of heritage structures across the UK. This includes many Grade 1 properties and scheduled monuments, for clients including Historic England, DfC-HED (Ireland), the National Trust, Cadw in Wales, local authorities, Building Preservation Trusts and private clients. Jon is a former chair of CARE (the ICE, IStructE and Engineers Ireland Conservation Accreditation Register) and is on the National Trust’s specialist advisory panel.