Beyond the ‘premium-for-height’ framework for designing structural systems for tall buildings: considering embodied environmental flows

  • YEAR
    Helal, James
    Stephan, Andre
    Crawford, Robert
    2018 Conference Papers
    Architectural Science: Building and Energy
    Conference Papers


During the 1960s, the Bangladeshi-American structural engineer and architect Fazlur Rahman Khan proposed a design framework for the structural systems of tall buildings titled ‘premium-for-height.’ Khan argued that the challenge of a structural engineer is to design structural systems that minimise the ‘premium-for-height’ of tall buildings as defined by the increase in material per gross floor area with increasing building height. This framework has had a profound influence and is commonly cited in the literature. However, in meeting the challenges of climate change and higher density, minimising the initial embodied environmental flows of tall buildings, such as greenhouse gases, must also become a priority in design frameworks. This paper discusses the limitations of the ‘premium-for-height’ framework and the importance of considering initial embodied environmental flows of tall buildings during their structural design. Finite element modelling and advanced structural analysis are proposed to assess the structural performance of tall buildings. The Path Exchange (PXC) hybrid life cycle inventory analysis method is proposed to analyse the initial embodied environmental flows of structural systems. This research forms the basis of a revised framework for the design of structural systems in tall buildings.


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