How to calculate slopes, and gradients
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As an architect you will need to know how to calculate slopes and gradients in differing situations. The most common occurrence of this is working with ramped access to buildings, groundworks, car parks and so on. Slopes can be measured in angles, percentages and ratios. For this post I will focus on the measurement of slopes in ratios, mainly because gradient ratios are stated in the building regulations. At the end I will also take a quick look at slope percentages and how to work them out.
Approved Document Part M of the building regulations specifies limits for ramp gradients for access to a building. If access to a building is too steep it is not deemed to be a safe access and creates difficulty for people in wheelchairs who may not have the strength to propel themselves up a slope, or may have difficulty slowing down when descending a slope that is too steep. Some people find they need to stop frequently when ascending/descending ramp and therefore suitable landings are required at specified intervals to allow for this.
The table below shows the guidelines from the building regulations:
To work out the gradient of an existing slope you will need the distance of the slope (run) and the height of the slope (rise). The method that follows may not be the most mathematical way to work out the ratio gradient of a slope – but it is really simple and has always worked for me!
Remember to convert units so they are the same. For example, we have a 10m ramp run and a rise of 500mm. Convert the run to 10,000mm.
How to work out the gradient
How to work out the rise
How to work out the run
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How to work out slope percentage
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