- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 12 Apr 2019
In structural engineering, the term 'stiffness' refers to the rigidity of a structural element. In general terms, this means the extent to which the element is able to resist deformation or deflection under the action of an applied force. In contrast, flexibility or pliability is a measure of how flexible a component is, i.e. the less stiff it is, the more flexible it is.
Increasing the stiffness or rigidity of a structural element reduces its deflection under load. This can be done by strengthening its section or increasing its size, but this will generally also increase its cost.
In a structure that is made up of many different structural elements, those elements will carry load proportionate to their relative stiffness. Therefore, the load an element will attract increases the stiffer it is.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
RSHP's Merano wins RIBA accolade.
How to differentiate between partial possession and early use.
Ofwat proposes £12 billion additional investment and £50 bill reductions.
Avoiding 'winner's curse' and other useful info.
Developing test methods for video flame/smoke detectors
Waiting for a new deal ...but will funding materialise?
Our servers have reached another milestone. Why not write an article and be seen by our 6.5 million users.
RSHP celebrates competition win in Paris.
All about approved inspectors.
Whilst apparently confusing, German conservation is actually not that different.
The rise and fall of council housing. Book review.
Drivers of change in global heating markets.