Experiments and Transformations. Chapter II

Author: Edwards, A Trystan

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Experiments and Transformations. Chapter II

The Structural Engineer
Experiments and Transformations. Chapter II
Date published

N/A

First published

N/A

Author

Edwards, A Trystan

Price

Standard: £9 + VAT
Members/Subscribers: Free

Buy Now

THE concrete water-tower with horns illustrated in the first article of these series may have appeared to some critics to be a little eccentric. Yet it is quite possible to imagine a time when we shall be accustomed to such eccentricities and even pleased with the curved punctuating members which at first appear so strange. For while “eccentricities” which are not based on logic but are merely senseless novelties have a very short life, unfamiliar shapes with reason, as it were, supporting and backing them are not easily disposed of and have a knack of coming to stay. It can quite well be imagined that the first person in ancient China who designed a torus or gateway with the ends of its transom tilted up was considered by his contemporaries to be quite mad. When once these latter, however, had recovered from the first shock of the novelty they would soon realise the rationality of the formal convention by means of which the transom, instead of being crudely cut off at random, takes cognisance of its own extremities and thus becomes a self-conscious unit of design. The architectural practice of the Chinese (and the Japanese also)shows that the aesthetic value of a short curve or tilt as a punctuation to a straight was widely appreciated not only by distinguished IC artists ” but by innumerable unlettered builders, craftsmen who readily availed themselves of such an effective means of giving expressiveness to their compositions. What makes these curved and tilted roofs and gateways so acceptable to us in the cities and villages of China and Japan is that they are not only beautiful in themselves but are set in an environment in which they support each other. A homogeneous style is necessary if an assemblage of structures is to afford a high degree of aesthetic pleasure. It is not enough, therefore, that a single building should exhibit the particular formal subtlety which results from the method of punctuation we are now considering, for the neighbouring buildings also should have something in common with it. In those rare instances, of course, where a building occupies a position of splendid isolation, this principle does not apply, but in industrial districts it may generally be presupposed that factory and other buildings are present in large numbers, and a plurality of them can be envisaged at the same time. Thus a structure such as that illustrated in Figure 11. would require to be supported by other structures of a similar style-that is to say, having certain members which are punctuated in the same way. In subsequent illustrations I shall show examples of buildings which share some of the characteristics of the water-tower, figure in II., but before venturing to design groups of such buildings it is perhaps desirable to investigate certain other types of punctuation in order that the repertory of the new style may be enlarged before being employed to decorate or beautify a whole assemblage of industrial buildings. A. Trystan Edwards

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The Institution of Structural Engineers

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