Dynamic discussion with Simon Wijte and Arnold Koopman
‘In Dialogue With…’ is an activity with the goal to give the students an opportunity to have a discussion or dialogue with professionals of the structural design discipline. This discussion with the interesting theme ‘dynamics’ was held on the 5th of March. Since the topic dynamics is quite broad, it was narrowed down to ‘vibrations’. Structural engineer Simon Wijte (TU/e) and vibration expert Arnold Koopman (Level Acoustics) where invited to discuss the effect of vibration on the built environment from their point of view.
The evening started off with the presentations from Simon Wijte and Arnold Koopman. In these presentations they both elaborated their opinion of the effect of vibrations on the built environment. The goal of these presentations was to show the participants how a structural engineer and a vibration expert deal with dynamics on a daily basis. This was needed, since a debate would follow with two predetermined theses, in which the structural engineer and vibration expert would discuss with and against each other, and of course with the students.
The first topic of the evening was: ‘If one simply builds heavily with concrete from now on, there will be no problems with dynamic vibration phenomena in the future’. The first to react was Simon Wijte. He stated that he would not necessarily promote the use of concrete, but building with heavy materials of course would reduce the vibrations in a building. Arnold Koopman agreed with Simon, but introduced the issue of making details and connections in a building. Apparently it is hard for vibration experts to convince structural engineers to enable dilatations in a building. Disconnecting parts of the structure is beneficial for the vibrations that are caused by the installations as they cannot be conveyed further. The students reacted with questions like how to solve the dynamical problems in the future, since we are aiming to build with less material, with regard to the sustainability of buildings. Which means that over time, the buildings become lighter. And also, would this mean that if we build with other materials than concrete, does that imply that you always have to solve dynamical problems? This resulted in more discussion among the students and guest speakers.
The second statement was: ‘Who is responsible if the deformations of a construction due to a vibration are greater than the set requirements, the structural engineer or the vibration expert?’. This time Arnold Koopman was the first to react, he immediately said: The structural engineer is responsible! After the quick statement he elaborated and explained why he had this opinion. Arnold said that the profession called, vibration expert, does not really exist as there is no official way to learn it. Vibration experts are people who serve others. Their expertise is applied for cases where people have hardly any knowledge about vibrations. For example, when architects design a building, they ask for advice from vibration experts. Simon Wijte had a short and simple reaction. He said that not the structural engineer was the one responsible, but simply the client. He also explained that it is regulated in contracts who is responsible for every part of a building. Simon then said that this is the way it goes, but he would like to see change. He wishes that he could take more responsibility for ‘too large deformations’ for example. He wishes that somebody in general would step up and take more responsibility instead of pointing at each other. He emphasized this problem. The students understood, and together they agreed that indeed there is not enough knowledge about this topic. Dynamics is not elaborated enough during the lectures in order for students to know enough about it. Which means that further study is needed, progressing on the knowledge that is given to you during your study. That was something everyone could agree on.
At the end of the evening multiple conclusions were drawn. The guest speakers Simon Wijte, Arnold Koopman, and the students obtained more understanding about the dynamical behavior of buildings and how to deal with them. Simon Wijte learned from Arnold Koopman and vice versa, and the students learned from both of them. All the participants of the ‘In Dialogue With…’ left with a lot of new insights and awareness to apply in their coming future.