Reinforced concrete is a base material of our art. We architects are up to our knees in concrete most of the time, whether laying it out new, or thinking about some concrete structure that has come into our hands. In this Bulletin we look closer at the way concrete came into our art not very long ago. Expert accounts show something of the threads of its way into our environment on the merits its various great properties.
Sean Johnson and Ian Stapleton Jack Arch Construction – Its origins and use in NSW charts the hybrid construction of mass concrete on curved iron vaults from its British innovation for fire protection of industrial structures, to its adoption in the hands of Australian Public architects as useful practically and architecturally. They raise the surprising structural results of their research during conservation works.
With Noni Boyd in The Age of Concrete we walk the streets of Sydney in the ten years 1906-1916 to find the innovations of reinforced and mass concrete as a wonder material in the towns of our state. It is like a family history for the material, the who and where and why. In her account is something of the air of architects trying something innovative.
Structural Reinforced Concrete was introduced to New South Wales for engineering structures, firstly in the Johnston’s Creek Sewer Aqueduct of 1897. After the Second World War, when the engineering of structure became a principle obsession of architects, we see the use of reinforced concrete as a structural system. The internationally representative Bini domes of the office of the NSW Government Architect are described by Rebecca Hawcroft in “Binishells in New South Wales Schools”. She recounts the impressive efforts of the office in the creation of their school architecture.
Which brings us to the conservation of Concrete Architecture. Scott Robertson’s account of Expansion and Conflict The Docomomo international conference, Seoul, September 2014 tells us that this, the material of modernism, whose persistent theme is of change from outside of a culture, is nevertheless the concern of conservation.
It is merely the case that places which are conserved for heritage values are attractive and lively.
The current project for this issue is about heritage as well. Light in Broken Hill City Living Museum is described by its authors as a proper appreciation of the city’s centre.
The writers of this month’s bulletin are all involved in the heritage promotion of the Chapter, principally through its heritage committee. Thank you each and all.