Application of ultra high performance concrete in urban transportation construction projects
As the most innovative cement-based engineering material in the past three decades, ultra high performance concrete has superb durability and mechanical properties. The mechanical properties of ultra high performance concrete with proper reinforcement are close to those of steel structures and have excellent wear and blast resistance properties. Therefore, ultra high performance concrete is particularly suitable for large span bridges, blast-resistant structures, and thin-walled structures, as well as for use in highly abrasive and corrosive environments.
Currently, ultra high performance concrete has been applied in some practical projects, such as large-span pedestrian bridges, highway and railroad bridges, thin-walled silos, nuclear waste tanks, steel cable anchoring reinforcement plates, ATM protective shells, etc. Meanwhile, there are also many innovative practices and applications in building facades as decorative materials in recent years, especially in bus stations, high-speed railway stations, airports, and other transportation building facades let us see more possibilities for this new material.
1. Montpellier high-speed railway station, a Mediterranean-style transportation hub created by UPHC.
French architect Marc Mimram has designed a new high speed railway station for Montpellier, a building erected on the railway line with an intricate pleated roof to create a Mediterranean-style building. Conceived as a "garden station," this Mediterranean station is a train station that considers light and climate change. The roof's structure shields passengers from the wind and rain and reveals a variation of light and shadow.
The pleated, double-curved structure of the roof is made of ultra high performance concrete, a material that meets its structural needs while allowing for a very high hollowing rate. The massive roof structure not only filters light, shields from wind and rain, and provides panoramic views but also hosts the wind system that regulates the bioclimatic environment of the ticket hall. This project is the first to combine structure and roof in a single piece. The roof consists of 115 ultra high performance concrete palm-shaped raised prefabricated elements, each unit only five centimeters thick but over 18 meters in span. Prefabricated with glass windows embedded in the palm-shaped hyperbolic concrete slab, the roof's palm-shaped augmentation exhibits strong inertia due to the bending and folding that ensures resistance to its form.
2. Gainitra railway station, ultra high performance concrete shapes the Islamic classic geometric form.
The General railway station is located in Morocco and is one of the strategic locations for the Tangier-Geneitra high-speed railroad. The station is the first connecting part of the Moroccan high speed rail project, aiming to provide the country with 1500 km of high speed rail by 2030 and to connect the city and the commercial area with two economic centers, a symbol of the integration of the city and Morocco with the modern world. Conceived as a jewel box, the Génitra train station reinvents a new identity of traditional Moroccan architecture in an urban context, mainly in the façade, where the interpretation of the screen structure continues to the urban scale, bringing socio-economic and technological progress associated with it.
To guarantee the strength of the building while taking into account its aesthetic appearance, the Moroccan architect Omar Kobbite, partner of the Italian firm Silvio Dacia, decided to build it using ultra high performance concrete. This material ensures the original shape of the design and can meet both the client's expectations and the designer's creativity. The building façade comprises more than 4,000 triangular-shaped ultra high performance concrete panels, which were prefabricated and transported to the site for installation with other components, such as glass, through the organic combination of the triangular panels. The ultra high performance concrete panels and the glass curtain wall echo each other, forming a rhythmic and unique façade that becomes a beautiful landscape.
Although the elements look the same, the triangular panels' calculation and installation are complex. The panels needed constant fine-tuning to achieve the desired effect. To find a technically and economically feasible solution, the project panel supplier used the properties of the ultra high performance concrete material to allow the panels to be aligned while being able to adjust the dimensional deviations of any metal structure to match the architects' original expectations.
3. Rabat Selah Airport, ultra high performance concrete creates extra-high cut-out traditional window casements.
The Moroccan Airports Authority commissioned architect ZhorJaidi Bensouda to renovate Rabat Selah Airport. The project includes a 1,600-square-meter traditional Arabian casement that serves as a building envelope and shade. The traditional Moroccan culture of the star pattern inspires the panels. They are made of a unique grid of white ultra high performance concrete panels, reaching a maximum dimension of over 5 meters high, while the panels are perforated at a rate of 70%. This project was the first in Africa to use ultra-high performance concrete, and it was the use of this material that allowed the creation of elements that showcased traditional Arabian architecture and created the foundation for other projects in the future.
4. This RATP Bus Center is an ultra high performance concrete box growing out of the ground.
The Thiais RATP bus center is located in the southern part of Paris, in an urban-rural area, and was designed by ECDM Architects. The building is a continuous encircling concrete box that appears as a unique industrial landscape suspended from the ground next to a wide boulevard. The material used for the façade is ultra high performance concrete, a hunk of concrete with high strength and compressive properties, and exceptional durability. The plasticity and mechanical properties of the material create a "full-coverage" façade that allows for versatile use, maximum openness of the building, and unrestricted use to meet the architect's complex design needs. The building has no front or back, and its entire structure embodies unity from design to style. Naturally, this extraordinary building has aroused the curiosity of many and has become a model for the application of ultra high performance concrete in building facades.
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