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Ilk. 1 and, 2: Bmding momcnts in modern. portalframe
with hingedfeet and, simply supported beam (red,rawn by
Hooman Koliji, from Curt Si,egel, Structure and Form in
Modem, Architecture, Lond,on, 1 962 ).

FIrsroRY SpneKs
.f-h. purpose of this short article is to explore the sixteenth centuries.
I- 'wisdom of the ancients' byjuxtaposing insights In the modern portal frame with hinged feet (ill.
about structural form made by modern architects and 1), explained the engineer Curt Siegel in 1961 in
engineers with comparable understanding found in Strukturformen der Modernen Architektur, the stiffness
buildings and other structures before the Industrial at the corners induces bending moments of opposite
Revolution and before the development of what is signs which reduces the bending load that would have
considered the modern science of mechanics and occurred along the horizontal member had the form
engineering. The idea is to discuss a different case been merely a beam supported on thin posts (ill. 2).
study in each issue of the CHS Magazine. Readers are Hence, the modern portal frame is self-bracing, that is
encouraged to share their observations and to suggest to say, its form allows it to oppose deflections along the
new cases studies. centre ofthe beam by generating 'counter-rotations'
at the end ofthe beam and through its legs. Siegel
Case Study 2: Saddle Cures, Portal reviewed the three options for material to construct
Frames arid Basket-Handle Arches modern portal frames: steel, reinforced concrete, and
glued laminated timber.
Ifa structural form does not present the advantage of The profile of the cable support for the basket-
being a pure tension structure, such as the hanging handle vault over the tracks of the new Berlin
catenary chain, or a pure compression structure, Hauptbahnhof (train station) by the architecture firm
such as the inverted catenary arch, then the next best von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, with the structural
configuration involves a form that is self-bracing, such engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann and Partners,
that its shape distributes loads with a change of sign who won the 1993 competition, reveals that this
so as to reduce or cancel stresses. The saddle curve structural form has a bending moment similar to the
enjoys this property naturally through the inherent portal frame in the sense that it involves a comparable
features of its form. As the engineer and educator counter-rotation (i11. 3). In Support and Resist:
Mario Salvadori explained in an article on thin shells Structural Engineers and Design Innovation (2007),
in the Architectural Record in September 1954,'as the Nina Rappaport explains that the designers wished to
[saddle curve] shell deflects and tries ofbuckle under keep the steel vault in pure compression, which they
the force of compressive stresses in one direction, it is achieved by adding a'cable support below and above
prevented from doing so by an increase in the tensile the frame, following the bending moment diagram to
stresses in the other direction.' Ingenuity in structural minimize the tension in the steel members of the arch.'
design involves creating forms with this self-bracing Flence they employed a historical form in a new and
property. In this case study, we will consider the modern modern manner.
form of the portal frame and the historical form of the Before the age of modern engineering science,
basket-handle arch, which both satisE/ this criterion. skilled architects and engineers understood the
The basket-handle arch was a favoured aesthetic form in structural mechanics of the basket-handle arch. In
many European countries in the late fifteenth and early bridge design, Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, founding

jan 2013 15
3: Berlin Hauptbahnhof, aaulted roof (redrawn $ Hooman Koliji, from Hans Schober, 'The Berlin Connection', Ciail
Engineering August 2005, p. 48).

director ofthe French Ecole des Ponts et Chaussdes, genealogy of the modern portal frame mayverywell
repeatedly used the basket-handle arch with multiple begin with Delorme's system, because Delorme set his
centres. In7782, when introducing a projected pair of basket-handle arch within an enclosing timber network
bridges at Melun, Perronet explained that he was not so as to create stiffness at the corners, effectively
employing the basket-handle arch for this particular transforming the ensemble into a timber portal frame.
design, and thus that these bridges 'will not be How Delorme explained this structural form and how
strengthened toward the springing by the small arc that French military engineers adapted Delorme's designs in
begins the vaults'. Although Perronet did not speak the the early nineteenth century with subsequent changes
language of modern engineering - bending moment, made by other engineers in succeeding decades, such
change of sign, and counter-rotation - he clearly that it developed eventually into the modern portal
understood that the bending moment at the centre frame, will be the subject of a subsequent case study.
of the basket-handle arch would be reduced by the
counter-rotation occasioned by the small arc at either Richard A. Etlin
end. Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, School
Philibert Delorme employed the basket-handle arch of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University
for his innovative system of laminated wooden arches, of Maryland, College Park; Fellow of the American
constructed of small flat pieces of wood that could be Academy in Rome; Research Associate, Laboratoire
arranged either in flat horizontal layers, as in a flat-tile G6om6trie-Structure-A.rchitecture de Ecole Nationale
vault, or vertically side by side, and intended for spans Sup6rieure d Architecture Paris-Malaquais
ranging from 24to 50 feet. Delorme envisaged an entire
gamut of types: single arch, hollow frameworks and
entire ceilings of connected arches, each with small, flat
tie-pieces that connected the parallel plaques of wood
together. Book two of his 1561 treatise was dedicated to
designs using the basket-handle arch (ill. 4).
As with Perronet two hundred years later, Delorme
clearly understood the structural advantages ofthis
form. Delorme explained that if the wooden voussoirs
of a three-centred basket-handle arch were aligned
according to their respective centres and with the layers
connected in the manner that he stipulated, such a
form would have 'an incredible strength'. Delorme's
detailed instructions as to where to place the connecting
ties linking the parallel plaques of the basket-handle
arch together, suggest that he fully understood the
mechanics of this structural form. Ill. 4: Bashet-handle arch d,esign of h,minated wood (Philibert
The leap from Delorme to the new Berlin train Del,ormc, Nouaelks Inuentions pour bien bastir et d, petits fraia
station is shorter than might be imagined. The 1551, fot. 42).

16 CHS Magazine