Types of Steel Structure Building: A Complete Guide

Steel structures are made up of steel components and are one of the primary types of building structures. Steel possesses high strength, lightweight, large stiffness, good durability, and seismic resistance, making it particularly suitable for constructing large-span, ultra-high, and super-heavy buildings. It has been widely utilized in modern architecture. Steel structures can be classified into various types based on their forms and purposes. Here, we’ll briefly introduce several common types of steel structures.

Steel Structure Building

Steel Frame Structure:

Comprised of columns, beams, walls, and other components, a steel frame structure can bear both vertical and horizontal loads of an entire building, ensuring overall stability. It’s commonly used as the primary structure for industrial plants, commercial buildings, office complexes, and more. The frame structure is constructed using steel rods or pipes to form the supporting framework, offering flexibility and strong adaptability, making it suitable for various types of buildings and facilities.

The London Bowl Stadium is a significant sports venue in London, UK, which served as a primary competition site during the 2012 London Olympics. It features a modern steel frame structure design, providing spectators with excellent sightlines and a comfortable viewing experience.

Steel Frame Structure


Portal Frame Structure:

A traditional structural system is characterized by horizontal rigid frames composed of columns and beams, with the rigid frame serving as the primary load-bearing structure in a planar force system. To ensure longitudinal stability, column bracing and roof bracing are installed. Portal frame structures find widespread application in large-scale buildings such as sports arenas, exhibition centers, factories, warehouses, etc. Their features include large spans, high space utilization rates, and reliable structural stability.

The terminals at Dubai International Airport utilize a portal frame structure, designed to maximize internal space utilization and provide convenience and comfort for air travelers.


Steel Truss Structure:

Comprising numerous components forming multiple trusses connected together through nodes, a steel truss structure forms a stable framework. Space steel trusses, commonly composed of triangular, quadrilateral, or multi-sided plane trusses, can withstand significant loads. This type of structure boasts excellent strength and seismic resistance, with simple construction and easy installation. Steel truss structures are widely used worldwide, particularly noted for their crucial role in large-span and iconic buildings.

The National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, Japan, is a modern architectural marvel. Its roof features a large-span steel truss structure, providing expansive space within the museum.

Steel Truss Structure


Steel Grid Structure:

Comprising multiple rods arranged in a grid pattern and connected by horizontal and vertical steel bars or pipes, a steel grid structure forms a spatial framework. This design offers advantages such as minimal spatial stress, lightweight construction, high rigidity, and excellent seismic resistance.

The exhibition halls at the Berlin International Convention Center in Germany feature a steel grid structure, offering spacious venues for various exhibitions and events.


Cable Structure:

A cable structure is a support system composed of steel cables, typically used in large-span buildings or bridges. This type of structure employs steel cables as the primary structural system, utilizing their high strength and gradually elongating characteristics to transfer loads to the support structure system, achieving load transmission and dispersion to support the entire building system. Key features include lightweight yet high strength, large-span design capability, simple structure, and visually sleek appearance.

The Golden Gate Bridge, located in San Francisco, USA, is one of the world’s most famous suspension bridges. With a main span of approximately 1280 meters, it utilizes a significant number of steel cables as its primary load-bearing components.

Cable Structure


Tensile Membrane Structure:

A tensile membrane structure is a spatial structure made of various high-strength thin-film materials and reinforcing components such as steel frames, columns, or cables. These components are manipulated to generate a certain pre-tension within the structure, forming a specific spatial shape used as a covering structure capable of bearing external loads. This type of structure utilizes steel cables for support, with polymer membranes covering the support structure, creating a lightweight, translucent, or semi-transparent covering layer. It is commonly used in applications such as stadium grandstands, canopies, parking shelters, and more.

The terminal at Stuttgart Airport in Germany features a tensile membrane structure, with its roof covered in transparent polymer membrane, providing passengers with a comfortable waiting environment.


Light Steel Structure:

Light steel structure employs thin steel frames, beams, and purlins connected through welding or riveting, forming a structural system that doesn’t need to bear heavy loads. Key features of light steel structures include fast construction speed, high design flexibility, and lightweight structure. This type of structural system is common in residential buildings, commercial structures, industrial plants, and other building types.

The headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, USA, features a design incorporating a light steel structure and glass curtain walls. This architectural style gives the building a sleek and elegant appearance while allowing for flexible interior layouts, reflecting the image of a modern corporate headquarters.

Light Steel Structure


Tower Mast Structure:

A tower mast structure is a towering architectural system characterized by its significant height relative to its smaller cross-sectional area. It is primarily designed to withstand wind loads and is commonly used for structures such as television towers, communication towers, and observation towers.

The Eiffel Tower is an iconic landmark in Paris, France, and one of the most famous tower mast structures in the world. It is composed of an iron framework and adopts the tower mast structure form, supporting the entire building and serving as one of Paris’s landmarks.

Tower Mast Structure



Steel structures, as a vital component of the modern architectural landscape, are widely employed in various buildings and engineering structures due to their high strength, lightweight nature, and excellent seismic performance. The development of steel structures has been continuously evolving and innovating. With the emergence of new technologies, the types of steel structures have become more diverse and integrated, driving the construction industry toward more innovative, efficient, and sustainable directions. This advancement aims to create better living spaces for humanity.

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