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Function of Buildings

Function of Buildings

The following series of articles will be dealing with the function of  buildings, requirements of functional requirements of the building, types of loads, and role of materials. The discussion will focus is on materials and construction.
We will begin with the functions of buildings and structures, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, followed by types of loads and structures, then functional requirements of buildings because the load is one issue in the case of buildings and structures.

The function of  buildings  are to provide a desired spatial environment within it continuously forgiven human activity. The environment may be controlled or uncontrolled. A controlled example is an air-conditioned building where the temperature, relative humidity, etc are controlled. Uncontrolled is any ordinary building where no temperature control, no humidity controlled, etc. is actually done.


Building Safety is a super important requirement. It should be safe against all kinds of natural forces and also from man-made forces.
And by human activity, we mean, for example, in a classroom it is the teaching. So, that is human activity. In a factory, possibly, the production of certain items in a living space living is the human activity and so on. So, human activity, we mean that. So, we must do it with the economy. This is the difference between a monumental structure and a modern function buildings.

A monumental structure like the Taj Mahal was constructed by a king and he was not bothered about the monitory implication of such a construction. The issues of time and money are important in modern functional buildings.

Safety here means a structure must stand erect, should not collapse on its own weight, or something like that. Then, it must be safe against the wind, safe against rainfall or rain forces or snowfall. For instance, if there is a factory and there is the continuous impact is imparted onto the floor, then that floor must be safe against such impact, or if you are putting a lot of furniture in a space, the ground should be able to hold the weight of the furniture other loads present. So, these are the loads that are coming from a human being. So, there are, what you have seen, it must be safe against forces of nature. One is from gravity that includes all the loads that might come because of human beings.

Comfortable Internal Environment

Another function of  buildings we said must provide for a comfortable internal environment. For example, humidity is one of the aspects. You have got air motion, air motion; noise, which is of course a human creation as it comes. Then, light this, again the force of nature; pollution, a human creation; rain or snowfall, totally it is known as precipitation; then, sunlight and air temperature; solar radiation.

The building must act as a filter. It should allow for some of those desirable aspects of the environment to come in. For example, natural light, sunlight, in a school you like to provide some amount of natural light. Similarly, natural ventilation, air movement. So, you would like to provide some amount of air ventilation, but at the same time, you like to cut off some other things such as excess temperature, which can generate heat within the buildings. Say, in a summer condition in a tropical place, tropical location, the building envelope should provide with kind of filter such that the heat radiation does not enter into the room.

But that sunlight comes in not direct, diffused sunlight, which does not create glare to the eye, should come in so that you can comfortably see certain undesirable things to come in. So, that is how it interacts with the environment, surrounding environment.

Therefore, a comfortable environment must provide this space within the building, must provide for a comfortable environment against the natural external environment, as I mentioned just now, temperature, relative humidity, in case of moisture due to rain, condensation, etc. Condensation is the phenomenon more common in the western climate, not in Uganda’s situation, except for possible areas where temperature within the space is relatively high compared to outside.

And wherever the temperature is lowering down, the air, that contains moisture might certainly contain down within the wall. So, that is, condensation is a phenomenon not very common in Uganda situation, but moisture ingress is more common than may come because of the rain penetration because of ingress of moisture through seepage or groundwater by Kepler reaction or may be due to leakage of pipe, etc.

Free From External Noise

Some of the man-made environment, as I mentioned earlier, noise is one of them. The noise is a man’s creation of industrialization. Well, if you look at it in a very rural area, a very tranquil rural area, the noise pollution level will be very, very low. A lit bit of birds, you know the sound of birds singing and so on. So, it is a tranquil environment in the rural areas. Therefore, the internal space mentioned for the specific activity. For example, a classroom should be free from external noise.

Noise is a man-made disturbance and the building should provide for a comfortable environment free from noise or similar other man-made agency, let us say air pollution. The space within the building must provide for a comfortable environment as desired, depending upon the activity. For example, you know, just living, you may not require a high level of comfort. A desirable environment is the kind of environment you require for that particular activity. The environment within the building must provide for a comfortable environment against both man-made as well external disturbances. ttps://

Comfort Against Micro-Climatic Changes

I must also mention here something about micro-climatic changes because these are overall global climatic changes or in an area, one can look into, but locally there may be some changes in a particular site. For example, an urban area is always at a much higher temperature than a rural area just because in an urban area there are lot of buildings and these buildings have their thermal capacity and therefore, they store it. So, the temperature in piped areas, again temperatures higher because surface water will runoff.

The water will not remain there for evaporation in the future and the evaporation process, as you know, results in cooling. So, micro-climatic changes of the changes, that is caused by the local topographic change that has been brought in by the construction of or by human activity. The tall buildings block air movement and thus causing micro-climatic changes. Function of buildings must therefore provide a comfortable environment against any kind of micro-climatic changes that have been caused by the surrounding building.

As mentioned, relative humidity, solar radiation, air movement, and heavy storm and rain, gusts, snowfall, etc. Temperature, as you know, if it is a high temperature, the deep body temperature should be maintained at 37.4 for a comfortable situation. If the room temperature changes by a significant degree, say drops or increases beyond 37.4 within the body, beyond the limit even it could be fatal, but you start feeling discomfort as the temperature goes higher.

And the room temperature actually depends upon the outside temperature; It is also a function of relative humidity that you can feel, say, in areas near L. Victoria where rainfall a lot of humidity outside. So, although the temperature might be lower, you still might be feeling discomfort because the relative humidity is very, very high, especially if you are away from the fan or similar sort of places where some forced cooling takes place.

Provision of Good Lighting

Lighting is another another important thing on function of buildings, Now, if you are trying to write there is a particular amount of lugs or illumination level, you require. If somebody is repairing a watch, for such working in small details one requires a certain amount of visual comfort and therefore, the illumination level should be accordingly there. Circulation is the other issue, comfortable movements. So, space should be such, the building space, the space in the building should be such that there is adequate space for movement of people.

If it is the movement of material, then there should be adequate space for movement of material or movement of any other equipment and so on. So, therefore circulation is an important issue. Visual comfort is another important issue while dealing with the function of  buildings. We should look into more details into these issues sometime later in this article or in another article.

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