FAH101H1 Lecture Notes - Wrought Iron, Lewis Cubitt, Crystal Palace, London
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Materiality and Technology
-Industrial revolution has major impact on all parts of civilization. A movement from an old society to a more modern, industrialized society, factories being put in
place, technology affecting the ways ppl travel, railways being developed, etc
-One of the major changes for archi is the introduction of iron as a building material, everything we were looking at before were masonry/wood. Introduction of iron
will completely change the direction of buidling
Flax Mill, Shrewsbury, England, Charles, Bage, 1796-1797
-First introduction of iron into structures/buildings happened in a very vernacular way. First used for factories, not considered as high architecture.
-Charles Bage was sredited of being a major player in the introduction of iron into the great mill buildings, which is required as a result of industrial revolution: need
factories to produce new materials, and the buildings are not like any buildings before in terms of size and capacity
-In Flax Mill, ﬁrst time see iron frame construction
-Not completely iron, combined with masonry walls.
-Introduction of slender iron columns is revolutionary,
-In order to open up the ﬂoor space to as much open areas as possible so that it could serve best as a factory, taking less footprint of the ﬂoor than the
traditional columns. An economic means in constructing and getting the size they wanted.
-A lot of architects did not embrace iron as a building material immediately, suspicion, usual
-Started its life as building materials for factories, being introduced very slowly
Crystal Palace, London, Joseph Paxton, 1851
-Built for the ﬁrst world exposition: idea is to have an exposition that could bring all of the countries together, to come to show what kind of goods and innovations/
inventions that have been made
-In constructing an exhibition hall, ﬁnd the full scale exploitation of the new material - iron, both cast iron (more brittle but better for tensile strength), wrought iron
(more malleable, can create details/curves)
-Also within the frame there are panels of glass: advance of glazing/glass also started around this time
-Massive building: 1850 feet long, 400 feet wide, very long linear structure with incredible span
-Designed with a long, liner, nave-like structure with a cross transept
-Was the largest contained interior space at that time
-In order to create a massive exhibition hall, the material iron, b/c it’s new, wasn’t ﬁrst considered. Held a design competition for building a temporary structure for
the exhibition hall
-Joseph Paxton proposed a building to make use of the new material that was simple and easy to construct and deconstruct, the design was much cheaper
-The idea of using iron is probably precipitated by the fact that he worked with Decimus Burton and Richard Turner, garden structure (low art)
-Palm House, royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, 1845
-Helped Paxtion in understanding how to how this material work
-Iron started in factories, then garden architecture, then temporary structure, gradually, as these examples are accepted, iron was eventually incorporsted into buildings
-He understood the fact that with iron construction you can have built in modules, pre-fabrication. Designed the building in a number of stalk sections/pieces, e.g., an
arch, all the components are made in factory and assembled on site. A main Save time (allow the pavilion to open in time for the exhibition) and money, one way that
the architect could sell the innovation to the client
-Advantages of iron construction
-Pre-fabrication: cheaper and faster
-Strength, long span over large space
-Can be ﬁlled with glass, allow for a lot of lighting
-Also perceived to be more ﬁre-proof than wooden building: not true, iron melts, when the temp is high enough, wrought iron twists and cramble
-Became a well-known building, a technological marvel in the minds of the mid-19th cent. visitors
-Architects started to see how the material could be used and started to slowly accept it as an option for designing buildings rather than factory/garden structures.
King’s Cross Station, London, Lewis Cubitt, 1851-52
-Train station: one of the ﬁrst type of buildings embracing iron materials
-Industrial revolution increases ppl’s ability to travel by introducing railways, and hence train stations, a new building type in 19th century, can better exploit the
possibilities of the new material, harder to do so for building types that have been around for a long time
-Date about the same time of the Crystal Palace
-The architect was trained as an engineer
-Exterior maintained the use of masonry, within the building the industrialized material came into play
-In the back of the building, the train sheds is where the material was exploited, not the headhouse.
-Train sheds span over the tracks, created two semicircular lunette on the exterior: trying to draw attention to the technology and celebrate it, unlike in some other
cases where an architect designed a traditional looking facade hiding the technology
-Decoration on the iron: created details with wrought iron, can create details to ornament the iron structure, not simply a industrial look like the Flax Mill
-This kind of spaces created awareness in ppl of the endless possibility of iron
Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve, Paris, Henri Labrouste, 1843
-One of the ﬁrst French architects to use iron, predates Crystal Palace
-Formal library building, an example of trying to hide the use of iron structure from the exterior
-On the exterior: masonry load bearing structure stone, has an arcade of semicircular arched windows, very Renaissance styles. But within the spandrels panels
engraved the names of the people whose books will be housed inside the library, an example of didactic ornamentation, to inform the passerby what the building it
through speciﬁc ornamentations. Similar idea as Ledoux’s prison, buildings speak to the viewer.
-Building is rationally laid out, central circulation area that leads to grand staircase, stacks on one side and ofﬁce space on the other. 2nd ﬂoor is completely devoted to
the large, 2-store reading room
-First ﬂoor: thick support load bearing system made of masonry to support the second ﬂoor, still has the load bearing capacity. Semi-decorative arch made of cast iron
between the columns, introducing the material to the visitor.
-Once the visitors make their way up the grand staircase and making their way up, on the second ﬂoor reading room, they are then made aware of the extent of the
-Rounded arches similar to Cubitt’s trainstation, a masonry loadbearing wall holding the truss of the columns, large span of iron arches, relatively small/narrow
column, holding more space than the lower ﬂoor masonry, amazed the viewer with the extent of the room due to the slenderness of the column.
-Use of iron in high architecture, extensive use of iron inside, but not outside
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