The Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes is a test facility for subjecting a full-scale specimen house (or other light-frame building) to realistic, simulated, and extreme environmental loading due to wind, snow, and rain.

detailed drawing of entire facility While under simulated loads, the full-scale house is instrumented to capture:
  • forces in essential components of the load-resisting system;
  • global deflections of the overall specimen and local deformations of components.
While under ambient wind and simulated rain, the full-scale house is instrumented to capture:
  • external and internal pressures generated by the ambient wind loads
  • rain characteristics and moisture penetration data; and
  • the growth and airborne propagation of mould.

An innovative pneumatic loading system uses modular "pressure boxes" to apply time-varying pressures and suctions over the entire exterior surface of the specimen.

Detail of the reaction frame, concrete floor and pressure box arrangement

Steel Reaction Frame

A steel space frame, constructed of modular components, envelops the specimen to facilitate the application of load to the roof, end walls and side walls and transfer these loads to the strong floor.

The frame allows efficient reconfiguration to suit the geometries of different test specimens using a mobile crane and crew of ironworkers. The steel reaction frame is designed to accommodate a specimen up to 15x12m in plan by 12m high.

Loads applied to the roof and side walls of the specimen will be transferred by the loading frame to the concrete strong floor by bays at 2.4m spacing, with parallel steel beams spanning between the bays to support the pressure box loading system and equilibrate the forces it creates. A the ends of the specimen, 10m high triangular frames at 2.4m centres will transfer loads applied upon the end walls to the strong floor.

Concrete Strong Floor

A specially constructed reinforced concrete strong floor accommodates he plan dimensions of various full-scale specimens.

The design concept is a voided slab, approximately 26x22m in plan, fitted with an array of mechanical inserts to anchor the steel reaction frame in its various configurations. The slab geometry also accommodates recording the reactions at the base of the specimens during load testing.

See also:

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Faculty of Engineering • Spencer Engineering Building
The University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B9 • Tel: 519-661-2128

Updated June 22, 2010 by contactWE
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