Building our understanding of light steel framing

  • Building our understanding of light steel framing

    Professor Ray Ogden

    Professor Ray Ogden and his team at Oxford Brookes have been responsible for a major research programme focusing on the development of light steel construction technology.

    Major industry funding in conjunction with EU support has facilitated a detailed understanding of the technology and various demonstration projects including the then largest light steel framed building in Europe, constructed at the University.

    The results of the work have been adopted by industry to innovate novel construction solutions. As a consequence, light steel framing is now the favoured method of construction across the entire modular off-site buildings sector and in other mass market construction applications.

    The value of the market that has emerged in the UK during the census period is estimated to be £78 million per annum.

    Light steel framing at Brookes

    Oxford Brookes has been involved in light steel framing research since 1990 with a formal strategic Research and Development arrangement being in place since 2002.

    Through its Architectural Engineering research group, based jointly within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the School of Architecture, the University is a strategic research partner of Tata Steel Europe.

    Light steel framing relies on structural sections produced from thin cold formed galvanised steel strip. It is a basis for producing medium scale buildings and building elements efficiently. Research carried out at Oxford Brookes has been instrumental in establishing a proper technical understanding of the material.

    Early studies comprised theoretical work to predict the competitiveness and supply chain implications of light steel as a mainstream construction material, and identified the technical, structural and building physics research necessary to optimise performance and achieve efficient compliant solutions.

    This world leading information provided a basis for developers to begin to offer products into commercial markets on a large scale.

    Subsequently, a major proposal for an international multi-partner project focusing on light steel construction, known as MegaProject 5: Steel in the Urban Environment, was supported by the EU. Partner countries included UK, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Germany and France. Professor Ogden led the overall portfolio of activities - initially for housing and latterly for the multi-occupancy sector. 

    Subsequent to MegaProject 5, and in parallel with its portfolio of funded research for Tata Steel, Oxford Brookes has provided applied research and development services to industry in the area of light steel framing. The University has supported major investments from companies including Terrapin, Barratt, and Corus Living solutions, as well as overseas companies such as Posco in South Korea.

    It maintains a dedicated and intensively used structures and building physics laboratory.

    As lead academic partner, the pioneering information generated by Professor Ogden and his team at Oxford Brookes has played a central role in developing and proving the merits of light steel technology.

    The scale of impact of the research can in part be gauged by the major contribution that the market makes to the steel production sectors where the annual tonnage is over 1 per cent of total UK output.

    Find out more

    Read more about the full Impact Case Study on RADAR. Further information on the Architectural Engineering Group can be found on their webpage.