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Beamless or beam-supported building floors: Is buildability knowledge the missing link to improving productivity?

Abdulaziz M. Jarkas (Al Mazaya Holding Co., KSCP, Kuwait City, Kuwait)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




Due to a dearth of quantitative research into buildability factors affecting formwork labour productivity of in situ reinforced concrete construction, the purpose of this paper is to establish a distinct point of departure from the prevalent qualitative trend of buildability research practices by exploring, quantifying and comparing the influence of the two widely used design schemes; namely, beamless and beam-supported building floors, on formwork labour productivity.


A considerable quantity of relevant formwork labour productivity data associated with each building floor configuration was collected from projects sharing similar characteristics. The data were analysed to determine the statistical significance of the difference between the two labour productivity “means” of the sample sets representing both populations. Regression analyses were further carried out to assess the impact of floor area on labour efficiency.


The results obtained show a statistically significant difference between the two means of formwork labour productivity achieved, where the efficiency of “forming” the beam-supported floor type is, on average, lower by 57 per cent than that of the beamless configuration. The outcomes further demonstrate a significant influence of building floor area on the productivity of the form-working operation.

Practical implications

The findings can provide designers with feedback on how well their decisions consider the requirements of buildability principles, and the consequences thereto on labour productivity. The depicted pattern of results may, moreover, provide guidance to estimators and project managers for reasonable cost estimation, effective planning and efficient labour utilisation.


The general guidelines available for buildability improvement lack the supporting quantitative evidence, and thus are often viewed with scepticism, especially amongst design practitioners. On the contrary, the quantitative outcomes reported in this study are based on rigorous methodology, hence can be used as a supporting reference to “formalise” the specific buildability knowledge of the activity explored.



Jarkas, A.M. (2017), "Beamless or beam-supported building floors: Is buildability knowledge the missing link to improving productivity?", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 537-552.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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