Structures Overview


Structures exist all around us in everyday life, not just in the way you may think of such as bridges and buildings but in closer ways such as chairs, tables, doors or trees. All of these are structures but in very different forms, all of them are designed or created to support a load in the most efficient way.

A structure is defined by two criteria:


Be capable of carrying the load they were designed for without failing.

Support the load or object in the correct position.


All structures can be divided into three groups:


Shell Structures

Where the load is held within the structure. Cars, tins, planes cartons etc., are all examples of Shell structures. Shell structures can also be found in Nature.

Shell Structures


Frame Structures

These are structures that are built by putting strips of material together to form a Framework. Bridges, buildings and cranes are examples of Frame structures. Possible one of the most important Frame structure is the Skeleton which supports our own body. Without it we would all be very short indeed!

Frame Structures


Natural Structures

Mother Nature provides us with many Natural Structures - both Shell Structures and Frame Structures. The Human Skeleton is an excellent example of a Frame Structure used in nature. Other examples are the veins of a leaf, a Spider's Web, the Pine Cone and the fin's of a fish.

Natural Structures


Mother Nature also uses Shell Structures in both the Plant and the Animal Kingdom. Here we can see the shells of nuts being used to protect the seeds of various trees and the bee's Honey Comb being used to house the honey and the young bee's. An Egg is a simple Shell Structure which provides great strength to protect the birds young.

More Natural Structures


Man-made Structures

Most Man-made Structures, like the Shell Structures shown here, can be traced back to Mother Natures original designs.

Man Made Structures


Other Man-made Structures copy Mother Nature's frame design. The framework of the bridge provides strength with relative light weight. It is using nature's Frame designs like these, that makes many of Man's greatest engineering feats possible.

More Man Made Structures