Vibration serviceability of long-span cast in-situ concrete floors
This thesis describes an investigation into the vibration serviceability of long-span and slender in-situ concrete floors, which are typically post-tensioned. The motivation for the research is the present trend towards increased slenderness of post-tensioned floors supporting open-plan high- quality offices where vibration serviceability may easily become the governing design criterion. The vibration serviceability issue in post-tensioned floors is now also recognised by the UK Concrete Society which proposed, for the first time, guidelines for performing a vibration serviceability check when designing office floors. The guidelines were published in Concrete Society Technical Report 43 (CSTR43) in 1994 and its publication prompted the initialisation of this research project. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, problems were reported with the reliability and practical application of these guidelines, and, secondly, the guidelines were not experimentally verified which is unusual for any design provision related to vibration serviceability. In order to improve understanding of the dynamic performance of a rather specific group of office floors which are long-span and made of cast in-situ concrete, a combined experimental and analytical approach has been adopted. A state-of-the-art facility comprising hardware and software suitable for field modal testing and dynamic response measurements of prototype floor structures was commissioned as a part of this research. The facility is built up around the instrumented sledge hammer, which served as the main excitation source in modal testing, and multi-degree-of-freedom vibration parameter estimation procedures utilising measured floor frequency response functions. The main testing programme consisted of modal testing of four prototype floor structures of varying complexity weighing between 13 and 1000 tonnes. All four slab structures were slender and made of in-situ concrete. These tests were complemented by measurements of the floors' acceleration responses to a single person walking excitation tuned to create as large as realistically possible responses. The modal testing experimental data (measured natural frequencies, mode shapes and modal damping ratios) were used to validate numerical finite element (FE) models representing each floor structure. To do this, advanced FE model correlation and manual updating procedures were employed. Results of these exercises highlighted a number of important issues related to the dynamic behaviour of the concrete floors investigated. Firstly, the bending stiffness of in-situ concrete columns and walls contributed significantly to overall floor bending stiffness and must be considered. Secondly, higher modes of vibration which are close to the fundamental frequency appear in concrete floors, and should not be neglected as they can be easily excited by walking leading to dynamic responses greater than those associated with the fundamental mode. Thirdly, the width of band beams contributes significantly to the lateral stiffness of post-tensioned floors, which, in turn, may be very beneficial for their vibration serviceability. The validated numerical FE models were then used to check the performance of three representative walking excitation models available in the literature. It was shown that, in general, all three models overestimated the measured response to the third harmonic of the walking excitation, which is particularly important for low-frequency office floors. Only one of the models did so in a way which is not overly conservative. This model is recommended for use in vibration serviceability assessment of post-tensioned floors. Finally, gross oversimplification of these important issues is identified as the principal reason for the failure of the current CSTR43 vibration serviceability guidelines to predict reliably vibration response of a wide range of post-tensioned in-situ cast concrete floors.