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The Use of Reinforced Concrete in Modernism Essay

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The usage of concrete was explored by the Early Christian and Roman architects but fell out of use throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. The material was only fully explored again in the later half of the 19th century but only for mundane purposes where the material was cheap, easy to work with, and versatile, but most importantly it’s fireproof characteristic. In 1870, the idea of reinforcing the concrete was born; steel rods were to be inserted to increase its strength. Taking this principle, Ernest Ransome (America) and Francois Hennebique (France) both developed frame systems. From this, open plan workspaces with large windows were created and it was proved to be well accommodated where fire had previously been a danger. Hennebique’s system used slim vertical posts, thin parallel beams on brackets and floor slabs; this resulted somewhat like a timber frame. Concrete was one of the most flexible materials and one with a least determining form. Concrete relied on its mould and the intelligence of its designer to give it aesthetic qualities for one to appreciate it. This became much more obvious when the architects of the last 19th century attempted to discover a style based on this material.
One of the pioneers who used reinforced concrete as a building material is Auguste Perret. Auguste Perret was heavily influenced by reading the works of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc who backed the unification of architectural form and techniques of construction which had lost its technique in the 19th century. Perret spent 1891-1895 in the Académie des Beaux-Arts under the guidance of Julien Guader. He taught his students the classical principles of composition and proportion with the analysis of building types. Perret left ...


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...lture, 2011.
http://www.dieselpunks.org/profiles/blogs/concrete-and-classics-auguste (accessed 28th April 2011)
13. David Watkin, ‘A History of Western Architecture’, London: Peter Kent, 2005
14. Catherine Croft, ‘Concrete Architecture’, United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing, 2004
15. ‘Albert Kahn : architect biography’, Architect-Architecture, 2009.
http://architect.architecture.sk/albert-kahn-architect/albert-kahn-architect.php (accessed 1st May 2011)
16. Francis S. Onderdonk, ‘The ferro-concrete style: reinforced concrete in modern architecture : with four hundred illustrations of European and American ferro-concrete design”, United States, Hennessey + Ingalls, 1998
17. Howe, Jeffery. "Frank Lloyd Wright". A Digital Archive of American Architecture. 1998. Boston College. 2004. http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/fa267/FLW.html (accessed 29th April)


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