Internal Forces

Internal forces! Start of a new academic year and it felt like this needed an update.

This diagram is really special to me. It was the point where I realised maybe I needed to create a new way to show and visualise structures.

When I was first introducing structures, I was trying to use the arrows and the positives and negative forces that had been taught to me… It had taken me a while to get used to and it wasn’t helping the students understand. Anyone who has taught with someone else’s presentation knows that there is always a disconnect with what you’re saying and what they’re showing.

I looked through every structural engineering and technical architecture book I could find to see if there was another way to show forces. And I couldn’t find one.

I started with strong colours, using red and blue for tension and compression. It really clicked when colouring in a beam diagram with red for tension at the bottom, blue for compression at the top and it started to mix and made purple! That’s what bending is, the combination of tension and compression. It helped me explain what the element was doing and made explaining structures much easier.

Shear was next and green looked different to red, blue and purple. Torsion needed a colour so it got yellow. Stability came about later when I was trying to show that the walls were in compression, but also providing stability. And then I’ve been making more diagrams as the years have progressed. So thank you runny pens for making purple mean bending.