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Role of engineers and materials in transformation of architecture
in 19th century
Aashish Gupta
Roll Number: 06216901611
Studio 3b,
Sushant School of Art and Architecture

19th-century architecture was greatly influenced by earlier architectural movements and
foreign, exotic styles, which were adapted to the new technologies of the early modern age.
The revivals of Greek, Gothic, and Renaissance designs were fused with contemporary
engineering methods and materials. The main types of nineteenth century architectural
styles included: Greek revival (1800-1900); Gothic Revival (1810-1900); Neo-
Renaissance; Industrial Architecture (1850-1900); and Skyscraper Architecture (1885-
1900). Gothic Revivalists and Neo-Classicists were happy to use the new materials and
industrial techniques to achieve the effects they wanted. Ideas and techniques included
classical cast iron for example in the 1820s John Nash, specified cast-iron Doric columns for
Carlton House terrace, London, for ease of construction and prefabrication, iron-and-glass
structures were a marvel of the age. Curving roofs and delicate iron tracery, linked by great
expanses of imported plate glass, created translucent space. J. C. Loudon and J. M. Crook
had forecast that the coming age of iron would mean an end to all established architectural
systems: all habitual notions of... proportion must, of course, be discarded. Instead of
adapting the new material to their designs, architects would have to adapt their designs to
the new materials.

Impact of industrial revolution on architecture
The industrial revolution which began in England about 1760, led to radial changes at every
level of civilization throughout the world. The Industrial Revolution made fundamental
changes in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and housing. Architecture changed in
response to the new industrial landscape. The economy shifted from one based on manual
labour to one dominated by machine manufacture. In the second half of the 19th century
dislocations brought about by the Industrial Revolution became overwhelming. For the new
modes of transportation, canals, tunnels, bridges, and railroad stations, architects were
employed only to provide a cultural veneer. The possibility of travel brought about the
migration of population from the countryside. Thereby, larger towns and cities began to dwell
resulting in more buildings which further led to Urbanization. New buildings like factories,
mills, godowns, housing, etc. were pacing. Increased vehicular transportations as distances
increased, and economy improved. Banks and insurance companies came up raising the
requirement of new buildings. Commercial scene of buildings also changed. Now work was
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no longer done by hand, it was mechanized. This also led to creation of new managing posts
like managers, labourers, technicians- office buildings to give space to these posts.
Hospitals, jails, law courts came up, these, along with banks and insurance companies are
largely due to British society. Law courts became an entity of their own. Now, the emperors
declined in their power, proper administration systems were established for punishment.
Cities had central business districts (CBD) or were themselves CBDs.
Impact of industrial revolution in India
After the revolt British felt that they had to know India to rule it better. James Fergusson felt
that they had to understand India deeper. Also, with the advent and works of the ASI
(Archaeological survey of India) by Sir Edward Cunningham, Indians were able to know their
past and take pride in their achievements. ASI works- Cataloguing of Indian measurements,
aided considerably with photography. Many companies were established, Railway Lines,
Bus Routes, and Sea Routes were constructed. New rail lines from Thane to Bombay.
Textiles were also the first to use modern production methods. First cotton mills came into
establishment. The Bombay spinning and weaving company established. Beginning of 20

century First steel mills were being put up. Education was promoted by the British. New
schools and colleges were built. Mayo College in Ajmer, Raj Kumar College in Rajkot- to
learn sports, philanthropy and etiquette- ideas promoted by the British. New housing was
made. Libraries, conservatories, town halls, public gardens became part of any reputed
town. Museums also came about. Recreation facilities like clubs and gymkhanas were
developed. Mistris and stahpathis became proper workers instead of being court artisans-
shows how the construction of building evolved. These artists were either bazaar trained or
any of the British school students- Madras school of industrial art, Sir JJ College of art, Govt.
College of art, Calcutta.

New Materials

Mass production became possible in glass, iron and later steel. The machine tool industry
introduced a precision in manufacture which, when applied to building, enabled the erection
of large and safe structures built from uniform components. The railways needed stations,
great bridges and viaducts. The architects were hardly by training equipped to supply the
design demand - except perhaps to suggest a style - and the engineer-builder appeared to
answer the need. Telford's Katherine Dock warehouses in London, and the Marshall Field
Warehouse in Chicago, by Richardson are early and late examples of storage design whilst
the London rail termini provide a range of solutions from the Doric portico of Euston (1838)
designed by the architect Philip Hardwick to the plain brick arch frontage of Kings Cross
station by Thomas Cubit.

Cast and wrought iron have different characteristics. Wrought iron has ten times the
strength of wood under compression and one hundred times that of stone. Cast iron is twice
as strong as wrought iron under compression, but is less strong under tension. This explains
why wrought iron has always been used for suspension bridges and cast iron for arched
bridges. Iron has been defined as a linear two-dimensional fragile-looking material, in
contrast to the solid, three-dimensional sturdiness of masonry. Linearity is irons most
rational form. These characteristics led away from the solid, block-like, closed type of
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building, towards an open, linear, articulated frame. The frame principle can be seen in its
earliest form in the tent and in its most ingenious form in the Gothic cathedral. New about the
iron frame was simply the range of possibilities it opened up.

Iron and after 1860 steel, made it possible to achieve spans wider, to build higher, and
develop ground plans more flexible than ever before. Glass in conjunction with iron and
steel, enabled the engineer to make whole roofs and whole walls transparent. Reinforced
concrete, introduced at the end of the century, combines the tensile strength of steel with the
crushing strength of stone.

Architects knew little about these things, they left them to the engineers. By about 1800
architecture and engineering had become separate professions for which a separate training
was provided. Architects studied in the offices of older architects and in schools of
architecture, until they set up themselves in practice. Engineers were trained at special
university faculties or special technical universities.

The most perfect examples of early iron architecture, the suspension bridges are the
work of engineers, not of architects. The early culmination of the iron-architecture was
perceptible in the constructions of large greenhouses. The gardeners and horticulturists
used to the iron- and glass-work of conservatories. These giant greenhouses were made of
cast-iron and glass. The elements could be fabricated industrially and rapidly erected on a
light foundation. The semi-circular vault and the ceiling were glazed throughout. The modular
system, the new scale, the fantastic dimensions, the simplicity of the architectural design,
the repetition of simple forms and the rapid erection had consequence for architecture.

Crystal Palace, London,

was completed in 1851 to house the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. This was a great 564m
long, prefabricated structure of glass, iron and timber. It was the masterpiece of Joseph
Paxton, who had experimented with the design and construction of lightweight palm and lily
houses in the gardens of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. Paxton made maximum use of
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plate glass, employing 300,000 sheets rolled for the purpose in France. The Crystal Palace
was the worlds first large-scale prefabricated building, foreshadowing a new generation of
factories. Paxtons innovative designs were inspired by the structure of the giant water lily
leaf. Architects had been looking for strength, durability, simplicity of construction and speed,
this they got from Paxtons ideas. These included his previous adventures in The Great
Stove, 1837-40 which was the first massive structure to consist entirely of cast iron and
glass which Queen Victoria said was the most stupendous and extraordinary creation
imaginable. Also The Palm House completed in 1848 by Paxton, shocked the public as it
was unimaginable to be able to see through a piece of architecture completely, creating a
soft atmosphere from the massive greenhouse. The influential design of the Palm Houses
curved glass made spectacular use of both cast and wrought iron. The glass follows the
smooth curve of the structure with assurance and was repeated in the Crystal Palace. This
iconic piece of cast iron and glass architecture was most well-known for its ease and speed
of construction but perhaps this ease of construction made a new style and model for future
architectural generations to learn and develop from. Perhaps the idea of construction itself
has become ease for form and function.

Contrasting with the Crystal Palace, the University Museum, completed in 1859, in
Oxford uses the versatility of iron to create new opportunities and designs. In 1855, it had
been labelled as an experiment...of the greatest importance to architecture; an attempt to
try how Gothic art could deal with those railway materials, iron and glass. Approaching the
museum, one first encounters a characteristically Victorian attempt to use old forms for a
new purpose, contrasting with this iron architecture. This commercial building makes the
visitors encounter a gothic revival stone wall and discover an iron and glass roof inside,
which may have a direct link with the glasshouse effect of the Crystal Palace in 1851. The
barrel vault construction reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral was recreated in iron and glass to
create a spectacular roof. The main hall boasts remarkable and forward-looking cast-iron
Gothic columns supporting a daring glazed roof. The Gothic cathedral effect emphasises the
importance of the purpose of the building and perhaps the significance that the Victorians

The Garabit Viaduct is a railway arch bridge
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spanning the Guyere River near Ruynes-en-Margeride, Cantal, France in the mountainous
Massif Central region. Constructed, with structural engineering by Maurice Koechlin between
1880 and 1884 and designed by Gustave Eiffel and opened in 1885. adopting the same two-
hinged crescent-arch form but employing an arch visually separated from the thin horizontal
girder. The Garabit Viaducts arches were engineered to have support hinges, allowing the
crescent shape to widen. This method both simplified calculations and improved resistance
to wind loads. Wrought iron was used and he adopted the concept of trusses or a series of
open triangles to assuage wind force that would blow right through them. Truss work also
provides stability when loads are applied through the theory of tension and compression
forces. This states that the forces are exerted on the diagonal and vertical segments causing
them to resist one another. The compositional factors of the design complement the
surroundings well, here the arch reflects the natural form of the river below and therefore
creates and balances the structure, perhaps even linking it with nature
For the same exhibition in Paris for which Eiffel built his tower, in 1889, two engineers
designed the Galeries des Machines, the largest free span then attempted, and rested it on
rocker pads which gives the appearance of lightness to the large and heavy structure - a
purely engineering solution. Near Milan Cathedral, the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele was built
to rival in height the Cathedral's nave in glass and cast iron. At the end of the century the
Amsterdam Bourse (Stock Exchange) was built by Berlage in brick, steel and glass in an
undecorated bare functional style which heralds the new architecture of the 20th century.

Skyscraper Architecture
During the second half of the 19th century in the United States, it was the possibilities of cast
iron and steel in the building of multi-storey unit constructions that were most effectively
exploited. After the installation of the first safety elevator by Otis, it became possible to use
as well as build tall buildings. Skyscraper architecture was first seen in New York, but the
genre was mastered by the Chicago School of architecture during the late 1880s and 1890s,
thanks to pioneer architects such as William Le Baron Jenney(1832-1907), Daniel Hudson
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Burnham (1846-1912), Dankmar Adler (1844-1900), Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), Cass
Gilbert (1859-1934).

Chicago School
Chicagos architecture is famous around the world- style developed here, also called
commercial style. Started at the turn of th 20
century. Many architects were a part of this.
One of the first to promote steel framed structures. Later grew and gave use to European

Chicago School
Steel framed structures with masonry cladding usually terracotta and large plate glass
windows. Limited exterior ornamentation. Some C.S skyscrapers used Neo Classical
elements. Some skyscrapers have the 3 tier column beam. Chicago window- flat fixed glass
in the middle. Smaller hinged shutters on either side. Solved both light and ventilation issues.
Later when projected out, gave rise to bay window. Renowned architects- Dankmar Adler,
Henry Richardson, William Holabird, Louis Sullivan. 1
skyscraper in the world- Home
insurance building, Chicago 1885. 1
steel framed building- Wanwright building,1891,Chicago
by Louis Sullivan, had soaring vertical bands to emphasize vertically-first skyscraper in the
true sense. Other buildings- Carson, Pirie Scott and co. building, Montank building, etc.

Chicago School
1960s majorly due to innovations of Bangladesh, structural engineer Fazlur Khan.
Introduced new structural systems of framed tube structures as 3d space structure
composed of 3,4 or more, braced frames or shear walls joined at or near there edges to form
a vertical tube that resists forces in all directions by cantilevering from the foundations. First
building- The write chestnut apartments by Khan himself. Other buildings are Sears tower,
John Hancock center, WTC, PETRONAS all have a tube structure

Chicago's Home Insurance Building
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(designed by William Le Baron Jenney) was the first steel-frame skyscraper in 1885, with a
height of 138 feet, though some claim New York's seven-storey Equitable Life Assurance
Building, erected in 1870 takes the title due to its innovative use of a skeletal frame. Another
early skyscraper was Burnham and Root's Rand McNally Building (1889), the first all-steel
framed high-rise, as was Louis Sullivan's Carson Pirie Scott Store (1899). New materials,
concentration of population in new fast growing urban areas, particularly Chicago and New
York in the mid-19th century, solid rock foundations, available capital and such inventions as
the elevator resulted in the growth upwards of American city buildings. The engineers
provided the means and the architects, taking over, exploited them. The first design, not
executed, for a real skyscraper of 28 storeys in Chicago by L. S. Buffington in 1887
preceded Louis Sullivan's Wainwright (1890) and Guaranty (1896) buildings by only a few
years. Sullivan's buildings were however much ahead of Buffington's and indeed later
scrapers such as Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building (1934) in showing the way in which
scraper architecture design was to go. Sullivan's vertical emphasis through the load-bearing
columns became the later theme rather than the attempt to extend vertically an historically
based design - for example a vertical Italian palazzo.

19th Century Buildings and Architects :
Crystal Palace, London (1851)
Designed by Joseph Paxton.
Industrial Architecture: 300,000 panes of glass on wrought-iron framework.
Originally erected in Hyde Park before being moved to Penge Common.
Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris (1854-75)
Designed by Henri Labrouste.
Industrial cast-iron construction.
Eiffel Tower, Paris (1885-89)
Designed by Gustav Eiffel and Stephen Sauvestre.
Industrial Architecture: Giant viaduct pylon, prefabricated iron girders.
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Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor (dedicated 1886)
Designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.
Consists of Female figure of Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who holds a torch
and a tablet evoking the law, with the date (July 4, 1776) of the American Declaration of

Palais Wagner, Vienna (1889-91)
Designed by Otto Wagner.
combining delicate metalwork with ornament.
The Galerie des Machines, Paris (1889)
Designed by Ferdinand Dutert and Victor Contamin.
Industrial Architecture: Metal/glass hall, with three-hinged arch structure.
Carson Pirie Scott Department Store, Chicago (1899-1904)
Designed by Louis Sullivan.
Foreshadowed the uniform grid designs of Modernist architecture.
Wainwright Building, St Louis (1890-91)
Designed by Louis Sullivan.
Based on a grid of pronounced structural verticals
Second Leiter Building, Chicago (1890-91)
Designed by William le Baron Genney.
Steel-frame construction: metal frame draped in a light masonry curtain wall.
Reliance Building, Chicago (1890-95)
Designed by Daniel Burnham and Charles Atwood.
Steel-frame construction: a wall of glass and white terracotta.
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Guaranty Building, Buffalo, New York (1894-5)
Designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler.
Cladding with steel structure.

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