• Ivan Jordan RIBA

Big Steels

Updated: Jun 7, 2018

The steelwork has arrived on site, and there is plenty of it. At moments like this the architect sometimes wonders: did the structural engineer really mean that ? I was on site to see the arrival of the first steels. It transpired some adjustment was required for the footings, too, so we had the engineer on site to ensure no Rumsfeldian "unknown unknowns" happened.

Well, the  main post we are installing (pictured) is holding up one end of a steel that holds up the back of a detached house, and a the substantial extension we are building. So it is an important lump of structure. Ad the site foreman said to me "203 x 203 on paper doesn't seem like that big a deal, but when you see it in the flesh, it's BIG".

Actually, as I look at the photos now, it's not that big, just adequate. We have yet to see most of the steel. Pictures over the next couple of weeks will show the skeleton of the structure as it grows. It will be all bolts and plates and other macho stuff, before being enveloped in timber and glass: there will be architectural dishonesty, as the steels are disappeared, but I try not to get too hung up on that. So long is the sensual qualities of the finished construction are good for the hand and eye. Right now it looks like a oil rig, unusual for architecture in Devon, and the finished building will retain the massiveness, the grand proportion, but with softness and warmth - the skeleton analogy, again.  Flesh on the bones.

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