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FIFTY YEARS is a brief interval of time in architectural history, yet in this period the extravagant taste which produced ornate Victorian building has suffered complete re-action, and architects almost everywhere now design primarily for functional requirements and try to produce structures of simple elegance, some examples of which are shown in figures 1-7. There are still a few critics who scornfully refer to most new buildings as “ towers of concrete and glass,” and sometimes with justification, for it requires the highest skill to produce refinement, elegance and simplicity on a large scale. But in spite of the failures, the revolution on the whole has succeeded and the credit must go to men like Gropius, Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Nervi, who have been perceptive, skilled, and courageous enough to defy tradition, and to use new materials, particularly reinforced concrete, in a rational and enterprising manner. The architects of many of the post-war British school buildings have also, more recently, made a notable contribution. In the wider field of engineering structures, designers have determined mathematically the shape which provides strength most economically and function most efficiently, and the uniformity and ease of casting concrete in almost any required shape has thereby endowed with beauty even the most utilitarian structures, which hitherto had been accepted as incurably ugly. Even architects have, at times, credited engineers with producing attractive “ functional ”
structures because of their clean, honest lines.” More often, they have probably had in mind prestressed concrete bridges rather than coal bunkers or, perhaps, photographs of concrete structures rather than the structures themselves. For the photographs showing attractive silhouettes and patterns in black and white have often been deceptive, the structure itself being of elegant form, but drab and shabby on the surface. This, however, is a quite inexcusable constructional fault, as the weathering samples at the Cement and Concrete Association laboratory clearly demonstrate, or more emphatically still, those exposed in the smoky atmosphere of London, on the roof of the City and Guilds College.
Professor A.L.L. Baker
FOUNDATION engineering, which is as old as the art of building, developed through the ages largely on the basis of accumulated experience utilised in conjunction with empirical procedures until, by the early part of the present century, it had nearly
reached the ultimate limit possible without a new, more scientific, approach to the problems associated with the behaviour of the sub-surface materials of the earth. The pursuit of that approach is, in the authors’ opinion, the outstanding feature of the progress made during the last fifty years in this very important branch of structural engineering.
F.M. Bowen and E.O. Measor
IT is a curious point that the study of composite action in structures should appear to be one of the most modern of research subjects, for the best of designers have from ancient times been accustomed to look upon the structure as a whole. Bridge builders in particular, and medieval craftsmen in masonry structures, made good use of structural continuity. The advent of cast iron, and later of steel, has led to a specialization and a degree of precision in the analysis of frames that has become by now somewhat fictitious, unless of course the frame really is a bare frame. This over-concentration on frame analysis has led to a neglect of the study of the whole structure.