Applied Studies (APST) 240

Introduction to Structures (Revision 2)


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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

APST 240: Introduction to Structures is intended for students enrolled in the BSc (Architecture) program at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University. For those students interested in pursuing a career as a registered architect, this course also contributes to the RAIC Syllabus Diploma.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: Basic trigonometry and algebra are recommended

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

This course is not available for challenge.

Credit may be transferred for previous work considered equivalent.

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APST 240: Introduction to Structures introduces theories of statics and the strengths of various construction materials. Qualitative and quantitative analyses demonstrate the reaction of building elements to external forces and are instrumental in determining the design of structural members and assemblies. Throughout this course, the relationships between architectural design and structural design in the generation of expressive form are discussed.

APST 240 focuses on the most common building materials now in use: steel, masonry, timber, and concrete.

Course Outline

APST 240 is comprised of the following eleven projects:

PART I: Introduction to Graphic Statics

  • Project 1: Learning the Basics by Designing a Series of Suspension Footbridges
  • Project 2: Force Systems and Designing Unreinforced Masonry

Part II: The Flow of Forces

  • Project 3: Designing Efficient Trusses
  • Project 4: Using Materials Wisely
  • Project 5: Designing with the Flow of Forces
  • Project 6: Designing a Bay of Framing

Part III: Beams

  • Project 7: Bending Action on Beams
  • Project 8: How Beams Resist Bending
  • Project 9: Bending Resistance in Beams of Any Shape

Part IV: Other Structural Elements and Reflecting on What You Have Learned

  • Project 10: Designing Columns, Frames, and Load-Bearing Walls
  • Project 11: Reflecting on What You Have Learned

Learning Outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will acquire proficiency in the following areas:

  1. Ability to produce an architectural design that broadly integrates contextual factors, structural systems, regulatory requirements, and environmental stewardship.
  2. Ability to integrate appropriate structural systems into a building and to use appropriate representational media, including freehand drawing and computer technology, to convey essential structural elements at each stage of the design development process.
  3. Understanding of the principles of structural behaviour in withstanding gravitational, seismic, and lateral forces, including the evolution, range, selection, and application of appropriate structural systems.
  4. Understanding of the basic building science principles and the appropriate application and performance of various construction materials, products, components, and assemblies common to the Canadian construction industry, including their environmental impact and reuse.
  5. Ability to analyze structural elements in terms of equilibrium, the resolution of forces, and shear and bending moments.
  6. Ability to make technically precise drawings in order to develop a structural system for a proposed design.
  7. Understanding of the broader ecologies that inform the design of buildings and their systems and of the interactions among these ecologies and design decisions.
  8. Understanding of the basic principles that inform the design of passive and active environmental modification and building service systems, the issues involved in the coordination of these systems in a building, energy use and appropriate tools for performance assessment, and the codes and regulations that govern their application in buildings.
  9. Ability to raise clear and precise questions; record, assess, and comparatively evaluate information; synthesize research findings and test potential alternative outcomes against relevant criteria and standards; and reach well-supported conclusions related to structural systems.
  10. Ability to write, speak, and use visual media effectively to appropriately communicate on structural matters related to the architectural discipline within the profession and with the general public.


Your work in this course will be evaluated based on four collections. A final course grade of 67% or higher is required to pass the course. Grading information is summarized in the following table:

Collection Projects Covered Portion of Total Grade
Collection 1 1 & 2 20%
Collection 2 3 - 6 30%
Collection 3 7 - 9 30%
Collection 4 10 & 11 20%
Total Grade   100%

Note: Students who wish to be certified by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board must achieve and maintain a final grade point average of 2.3 or greater.

Course Materials


APST 240 uses the following eText:

Allen, E., & Zalewski, W. (2010). Form and Forces: Designing Efficient, Expressive Structures. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.

Other Materials

Course materials for APST 240 are available online through the course home page. These materials include a Course Orientation and a Study Guide. All Required Readings are available in the Digital Reading Room.

Students must have access to a digital camera as well as basic drafting equipment and/or a CAD program. Students will also perform hands-on experiments and need items such as modeling clay, tape, string, and glue.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, March 11, 2019.