Prestressed structure

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Naturally precompressed exterior wall of Colosseum, Rome
Cable-stayed prestressed concrete bridge over Yangtze river

In structural engineering, a prestressed structure is a load-bearing structure whose overall integrity, stability and security depend, primarily, on prestressing: the intentional creation of permanent stresses in the structure for the purpose of improving its performance under various service conditions.[1]

The basic types of prestressing are:

  • Precompression with mostly the structure's own weight
  • Pre-tensioning with high-strength embedded tendons
  • Post-tensioning with high-strength bonded or unbonded tendons

Today, the concept of a prestressed structure is widely employed in the design of buildings, underground structures, TV towers, power stations, floating storage and offshore facilities, nuclear reactor vessels, and numerous bridge systems.[2] It is especially prominent in construction using concrete (see pre-stressed concrete).

The idea of precompression was apparently familiar to ancient Roman architects. The tall attic wall of the Colosseum works as a stabilizing device for the wall piers beneath it.


  1. ^ Nilson, Arthur H. (1987). Design of Prestressed Concrete. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-83072-0.
  2. ^ Nawy, Edward G. (1989). Prestressed Concrete. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-698375-8.