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Mr B. Clancy (F) (Brian Clancy Partnership): Could the authors say what problems, if any, were encountered in keeping the pile casings vertical during driving/sinking?
Building work on the French Pantheon (the Church of Sainte-Genevieve) was started in 1756, and there was a celebrated dispute, in 1770, as to whether or not the crossing piers would be strong enough to carry the projected dome. In the event, the piers were indeed found to be defective, but not for the reasons originally suggested. The technical history of this building is presented in this paper; the form of construction led effectively to a thin skin of each pier carrying the entire load. Local stress concentrations then produced the splitting and spalling observed in the piers. Similar defects may be seen in some crossing piers of medieval cathedrals; although the details of construction are different, medieval piers, as those of the Pantheon, can have weak central cores. Professor J. Heyman
Academics are frequently accused of wasting their time on ‘irrelevant’ research and directing their energies towards utopian and esoteric goals, which are far removed from ‘real-world’ problems. One would like to think that there is no need to remind hard-headed engineers of the immediate and tangible relevance to their needs of large areas of university research. R. Narayanan