Monuments of concrete | Íñigo García Odiaga

Recoletos Fronton, Madrid, 1935, Eduardo Torroja and Secundino Zuazo´s work

The first half of the 20th century supposed the accession of the reinforced concrete as the new material of the architecture. His structural capacity opened the way for the inventiveness in the sense of the utilization of big structures of concrete for building public. Still today this generation of architects and engineers who experimented with new forms derived from the use of the concrete are respected and acclaimed, and his works have great echo in the most contemporary architecture.

Racetrack of the Zarzuela, Madrid, 1936, Eduardo Torroja y Secundino Zuazo’s work

Freyssinet, Torroja, Maillart or Nervi are the names of these construction teachers and engineers who with the new century opened new ways. His contribution in the area of the construction goes far beyond of the managing of the reinforced concrete, introducing not only the use of newly materially but new formal tipologías that were improving his behavior.

For example it is necessary to emphasize the figures of the French engineer Eugene Freyssinet who was the first one in the use of concretes pretensados, or that of Eduardo Torroja who bet for the use of structures will be laminated by you of low thickness. Torroja’s work, as his personality, sober and silent, is still alive in the memory and in the references of the schools of engineering of the whole world.

Recoletos Fronton, Madrid, 1935, Eduardo Torroja and Secundino Zuazo´s work

The fronton and the bolatoki of the neighborhood native of San Sebastian de Añorga, managers by Rezola Cements in order to replace the old equipments were inaugurated in the year 1949. The interest of both buildings is in the risky exposition of the structure of cover. The thinnest sheet of concrete of 5 centimeters created by means of conical interlaced forms gives to the above mentioned cover a light and wavy aspect. This lightness expressed by the cover is possible thanks to the concept of sheet, which by means of his section in curve he acquires mechanical sufficient conditions to replace the traditional girders.

Other two key works in Torroja’s path are the fronton Recluses and the Racetrack of the Zarzuela, both in Madrid. The fronton Recluses, constructed in 1935 with the from Bilbao architect Secundino Zuazo, is a great space covered by a sheet consisted of two circular sections of almost 60 meters of length and with a few triangular lattices that were allowing the entry of the light of the north to illuminate the field without dazzling the pelota players.

The vault of the Recoletos fronton, Madrid, 1935, Eduardo Torroja and Secundino Zuazo´s work

The vault of the Recoletos fronton is maybe the maximum expression of the structural engineering where function and it forms they reach a point of simplicity and beauty, simultaneously precisely and harmonicly. Torroja covers the fronton with a vault that is not such, since the detailed study of the structure discovers that actually it is a question of a double curved girder that it rests on the front and on the rebound, a solution that he bets for the ingenuity opposite to the squandering, and of the one that big conclusions might extract nowadays.

The marquee of the Racetrack of the Zarzuela, which demolishes almost thirteen meters, is probably another Eduardo Torroja’s great building. Besides the showiness of the structural system him it is necessary to add two situations of context that increased the epic of the building. On the one hand the building was finished on July 18, 1936, and there was inaugurated five years later in 1941, after having resisted strong impacts of artillery during the civil war, what I contribute an added value to the structural system. On the other hand the building and his rash structure are this time in full nature, in a vegetable landscape in which the curved geometries of concrete of the cover of the grandstand contrast with total brightness, increased his monumental character.

Platform of Longchamp’s Parisian racetrack, Dominique Perrault’s work

These architectures have performed vital importance in the current formulation of buildings, in which the structures have great importance, as stadiums, polysport or big equipments.

Evolution of the section of the platform of Longchamp’s Parisian racetrack, Dominique Perrault’s work

The project presented for the reform of Longchamp’s Parisian racetrack, Dominique Perrault’s work supports this relation of the big structures of concrete with the landscape. The lot is in one of the major green spaces of the French capital, and the project claims that the landscape is kept constant, so that the racetrack adds his vegetation to that of the forest that surrounds it.

Reform of Longchamp’s Parisian racetrack, Dominique Perrault’s work

Once solved the functional problems of arrival, and tránsitos of horses, jockeys and public in the level of support of the building, the offer takes force presenting a monumental structure of concrete that solves the platforms. Big sloping and wide wrought horizontal props describe a piled up but unstable geometry that it seems to speak about the movement and the own speed about the racetrack. The structure shapes somehow the totality of the building, and the inclination of the horizontal planes of the platforms towards the track to facilitate the vision in the line of goal, they amplify the monumental rotundity of the set.

The only element seems to acquire another protagonism. It is a question of the prismatic volume of glass that with 123 meters of length and 23 of width it finishes off the building in a great flight. This piece shelters the cafeteria, the restaurant and the rooms vip of the racetrack. His singular location him contributes conference panoramic on the Seine and the Bois de Boulogne beside placing the equine equipment in the skyline of the French capital.

This rotundity of the structure of concrete undresses and cleared of any ornament opposite to the natural disorder of the surrounding landscape, reaffirms the exposition of the big structures of concrete of beginning of last century and reveals the value of the monumentalidad as architectural resource, also in the contemporary epoch.

General sight of the reform of Longchamp’s Parisian racetrack, Dominique Perrault’s work

íñigo garcía odiaga . architect

san sebastián. december 2013

It´s published in ZAZPIKA _ 2011.12.04

Íñigo García Odiaga

Doctor Arquitecto y profesor asociado de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, ETSASS. Editor de NOMU. 1/5 del estudio de arquitectura VAUMM. Vivo en Donosti.

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