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Science centre modelling made easy

Spotlight Computer software

Finite element analysis package SOFiSTiK has been chosen to display the entire structural and foundation characteristics of Germany's new Wolfsburg Science Centre.

The landmark public building, currently under construction, has sculptured architectural forms which have created a 150m long, 80m wide, four storey superstructure. With 10 stiff cores, it has no suitable position for a movement joint.

According to Iain Lockhart of the product's UK distributor Software & Design Ltd, the structural engineer needed to come to terms with the effects of constrained thermal movements and differential settlement.

'Two years ago, it was realised early on that the only effective way to approach the analysis was to include the entire structure and foundations in one single model.

The search was on to find a Finite Element analysis package that could cope with such a task, ' he said.

SOFiSTiK was chosen for its capability to present the results from FE analysis in a form suitable for reinforced concrete design. In addition, the non-linear capabilities of SOFiSTiK offered the potential to model and investigate the crackedsection behaviour of the structure and long-term deflections.

The package was also chosen for the graphical input within AutoCAD, allowing the sculptured form of the structure to be input and modelled accurately with relative ease. The design module of SOFiSTiK was also a useful tool for cross-checking the design of concrete elements to both British as well as German DIN standards.

Two years ago, the 40,000 element model that represented the entire Wolfsburg structure was pushing the limits of what could be effectively handled on a desktop PC. Recent upgrades in software and hardware now mean that a model of such a size can be edited and analysed with much greater ease.

SOFiSTiK software allows designers to model and analyse complex structures

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