The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 9 (1931) > Issues > Issue 1 > Discussion on "The Aesthetic Side of Structural and Constructional Engineering."
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Discussion on "The Aesthetic Side of Structural and Constructional Engineering."

Mr. HUGH DAVIES said that Mr. Robertson had to-night given a display of his extraordinary versatility and breadth of view in regard to some abstruse problems of architectural design, moreover although he had written an eminently readable paper for the purposes of the meeting he had not bothered to read it but had given an equally interesting lecture of a different character without any notes and apparently without any previous preparation. Those who had known Mr. Robertson for a good many years, and had admired his work at the Architectural Association, knew that he had in an unusual degree attempted to realise the problems of the structural engineer, and to co-ordinate the aims of the structural engineer with those of the architect. In his lecture to-night Mr. Robertson was concerned primarily with the aesthetic aspect of design; and if there waa one characteristic that had particularly impressed the present audience, it was that Mr. Robertson had very largely abandoned the habit which architects of twenty or thirty years ago followed of interpreting architectural design primarily in terms of ethics. In those days we had heard much about honesty, truth, and other ethical attributes: Mr. Robertson had indeed mentioned the quality of honesty in building but it was to point out the absurd lengths to which undue adherence to such principles might lead designers of buildings when dealing with details in iron, concrete and other modern materials. Instead of that Mr. Robertson had unfolded some of the elements of the aesthetics of buildings as exemplified in the work of a few modern architects, and had done this in a manner that all had been able tograsp and appreciate. As an architectural expert who had interpreted the principles upon which structural engineers had, often unconsciously, created beautiful structures, and structural engineers would feel it was an encouragement to go on following out the ideas they had frequently expressed when building bridges and similar structures. He (Mr. Hugh Davies) would have very much enjoyed it if Mr. Robertson had elaborated a few more of the principles of design with which engineers were specially concerned. In the early part of his speech he had referred to the aesthetic qualities of the Parthenon, and of some notable Roman buildings, and his analysis of the motives underlying the form of such buildings and the manner in which the motive was given expression had been very illuminating. One would have liked it if Mr. Robertson had gone on further to elaborate another type of construction which was very interesting to structural engineers, and particularly to ferro-concrete constructional engineers, namely the dome. There were those who held the opinion that the dome had not been fully explored in this country as a motive in modern construction. But the Americans had seized upon it and had given some extremely interesting demonstrations of the application of domes to modern requirements in structural wor