Dan Cruickshank’s Bridges: Heroic Designs that Changed the World. Dan Cruickshank
Чтение книги онлайн.

Читать онлайн книгу Dan Cruickshank’s Bridges: Heroic Designs that Changed the World - Dan Cruickshank страница

Название: Dan Cruickshank’s Bridges: Heroic Designs that Changed the World

Автор: Dan Cruickshank

Издательство: HarperCollins

Жанр: Архитектура


isbn: 9780007412334






      Heroic Designs that Changed the World



       Title Page















      Select Biography




       About the Publisher


      Great cities are built on great rivers and so, sooner or later, great bridges arise – bridges that not only connect and transport but also that play key roles in creating and defining the character, nature and aspirations of the city. Bridges, among all their many attributes, are incomparable place-makers, man-made landmarks that vie with the memorable works of nature. This is most obvious in cities and towns, but is also the case in more remote places where so often it is bridges that excite, that stir the imagination, as they soar above chasms and canyon, knife across vast tracts of water – as they dare and achieve the almost unimaginable.

      Humanity’s inventiveness and structural ingenuity in the creation of bridges, in the evolution of structural systems, in the utiliz ation of technology and materials, is on a par with the engineered excellence of the Gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe. Great bridges and great cathedrals both express – in the most sublime manner possible – the aspirations of their age, of the civilisation that built them. In Europe and America the genius of bridge building was – in the past – expressed most forcefully in mighty works, especially by the great railway bridges of the 19th century – utilitarian objects of supreme daring, forged of wrought-iron, steel, masonry in sweat and blood – that in the perfection of their function and their fitness for purpose achieved poetic beauty.

      Now – in the early 21st century – there are few structural restraints that can stymie bridge-builders, there is little that engineers dare not aspire to, little that they cannot achieve. This has become the age of the mega-bridge where boundaries of ambition and scale are being regularly extended through ever growing technological prowess. This is impressive with unprecedented structures being realised. But often these mega-scale solutions are formulaic. Now, in many ways, the outpouring of ingenuity and creativity that distinguish the best bridges of the past is found not in huge creations but in smaller bridges where the challenge is not so much to achieve a crossing on an heroic scale but to do so in a manner that is consciously intended to delight and to give a place identity. In parallel to the rise of the mega-bridge is the evolution of the gem-like, small-scale bridge – often only a pedestrian bridge such as the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in England – that functions not just as a route but also as a work of art – as a creation that provides a promenade, that grants character, distinction and sense of place.

      This book is a very personal journey into the world of bridges. I focus almost exclusively on those I’ve seen and experienced and so, naturally, the text dwells on those that exist rather than on great bridges that are no more, like Robert Stephenson’s seminal Britannia Bridge, Wales of 1846-50 that has been largely rebuilt and altered out of all recognition. This means, of course, that virtually all the works described can be seen – and enjoyed – by all who read this book and who – like me – are always thrilled and stirred by the sight of a good bridge.

      Dan Cruickshank

      August 2010.


      ‘Always it is by bridges that we live.’

       Philip Larkin, ‘Bridge for the Living’

      From earliest times, mankind has built bridges, and still today bridge construction remains heroic, the most absolute expression of the beauty and excitement invoked by man-made constructions that are practical, functional, and fit for their purpose. Bridges that are leaps of faith and imagination, that pioneer new ideas and new materials, that appear both bold and minimal when set in the context of the raw natural power they seek to tame, are among the most moving objects ever made by man. They are an act of creation that challenge the gods, works that possess the very power of nature itself. They are objects in which beauty is the direct result of functional excellence, conceptual elegance and boldness of design and construction.

      Like most people, I am addicted to bridges – to their raw, visceral punch, to their often astonishing scale and audacity, enthralled by their ability to transform a place and community and amazed by the way a bold bridge can make its mark on the landscape and in men’s minds, capture the imagination, engender pride and sense of identity and define a time and place. A great bridge – one that defies and tames nature – becomes almost in itself a supreme work of nature.

      Bridges embody the essence of mankind’s structural ingenuity, they show how nature can be tamed by harnessing nature, how mighty chasms and roaring waters – the very embodiment of natural power and grandeur – can be spanned by utilizing the structural forces and principles inherent in nature; bridge design demonstrates – with startling and dramatic clarity – the structural potential of different materials and how these materials can be given added strength through design, through the use of forms that work in accordance with the structural laws of nature. For example, stone can be given additional load-bearing capacity and be used to bridge wider spans by being wrought to form well-calculated arches, and wood and metal can achieve great spans if used not as simple beams but when fabricated to form lattice-like, triangulated, trussed structures, where load-bearing capacity comes not through mass but from thoughtful engineering.

      The most thrilling bridges are, in many ways, those not enhanced by superficial or extraneous ornament or cultural references. What moves and impresses is their honest expression of the materials and means of construction – their only ornament is a direct result of the way in which they are built and perform. A great bridge has an emotional impact, it has a sublime quality and a heroic beauty that moves even those who are СКАЧАТЬ