Let us return to the first architecture class on structures and the classification of structural efforts. In most structures, whether natural or man-made, compression forces are the primary actors. These are efforts undertaken with equal and opposing loads, applied in the interior of the structure, which tend towards the shortening of the piece in one direction - or compressing it, as the name indicates. It is not difficult to find examples of this: for example, a stone wall or a wooden log can resist the weight of a covering through internal compression efforts that are inherent to each material. Tension efforts, on the other hand, tend to lengthen components in the direction of the applied force of action. Steel, for example, is a material with good tensile strength. It is used in reinforced concrete precisely in the parts where the piece is in traction. But it is also possible for a structure to only have tensile parts, as is the case of membrane, tensioned, or tension structures, which consist of surfaces pulled by the action of cables or ropes in which the masts absorb compression efforts.
Steel: The Latest Architecture and News
Metaphorically, building bridges equates to creating new opportunities, connections, and paths. The first bridges likely formed naturally with logs falling across rivers and natural depressions, though humans have also been building rudimentary structures to overcome obstacles since prehistory. Today, technological advances have made it possible to erect bridges that are both impressive and sculptural, playing a key role in transportation and connectivity. Usually needing to overcome large spans, with few points of support, bridges can be quite difficult to structure. But when is the bridge more than a connection between two points, instead resembling a building with a complex program? How can these 'bridge houses' be structured?
Shortly before the First World War, Harry Brearley (1871-1948), who had been working as a metalworker since he was 12 years old, developed the first stainless steel. Seeking to solve the problem of wear on the inner walls of British army weapons, he ended up obtaining a corrosion resistant metal alloy, and added chrome to the cast iron. The invention found applications in almost all industrial sectors including for the production of cutlery, health equipment, kitchens, automotive parts, and more, replacing traditional materials such as carbon steel, copper, and even aluminum. In civil construction, this was no different, and stainless steel was soon incorporated into buildings.
For a small child, understanding the concept of time and its passage is very difficult. As a result, children are often impatient when expecting something or confused when trying to remember something from the past. They live in the present, and learn the notion of time only little by little. But accepting the passage of time, and the reality of aging, is something that plagues us even as adults. The lucrative cosmetic and plastic surgery industries show how humanity seeks to control or deny the passage of time, an urge that has proved to be relentless.
After centuries of using wood for the development of window and door carpentry, the Rationalism of the 20th century began to adopt a new material for these purposes: steel. Driven by industrial production, and promoted by architects such as Adolf Loos, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, steel was evolving to generate increasingly thin and resistant frames. However, efficient and low-cost materials, such as aluminum and PVC, gradually began to replace its widespread use, increasing the size of the frames and losing steel's "clean" aesthetic when applied to a growing architecture of large glass paneled facades.
At present, new technologies have refined their production processes, developing minimal profiles of high rigidity and precision, which take full advantage of the transparency of the glass and deliver new comfort and safety features. We talked with Jansen's experts to deepen our understanding of their application in contemporary architecture.
Cracks, which could be classified according to their thickness as fissures or fractures, are serious problems in the construction industry that can negatively affect aesthetics, durability and, most importantly, the structural characteristics of a project. They can happen anywhere, but occur especially in walls, beams, columns, and slabs, and usually, are caused by strains not considered in the design.
The use of steel in architecture is considered as one of the most innovative construction developments in history, allowing architects to create structures in scales they never thought they could. Fast-forward a few centuries, and steel remains as one of the most crucial materials in architecture. But there is a lot more to the material than just tensile strength and durability, some architects were well-aware of steel's potential and transformed it into lighting fixtures, facades, decorative elements, and finishes.
Here are 15 projects where architects looked beyond steel as structural support and explored its diverse possibilities in architecture.
3D printing itself is no longer a new technology, but that hasn’t stopped researchers and innovators around the world from coming up with new applications and opportunities. Some experiments with new materials have been driven by sustainability concerns and others are simply the result of imagination and creativity. Others have chosen to invest their time utilizing more traditional materials in new ways. Materials, however, are just the beginning. Researchers have developed new processes that allow the creation of objects that were previously impossible to print and, on a larger scale, new building typologies are being tested - including a Mars habitat!