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Vol. 53 (2012) No. 1 March n. 171

Robert Maillart's Key Methods from the Salginatobel Bridge Design Process (1928)

< Table of Contents for Vol. 53 (2012) No. 1 March n. 171
  • Journal Name: Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (J. IASS)
  • ISSN: (Electronic Version) 1996-9015
  • ISSN: (Print Version) 1028-365X
  • Issue: Vol. 53 (2012) No. 1 March n. 171
  • Pages: 39-47
  • Title: Robert Maillart's Key Methods from the Salginatobel Bridge Design Process (1928)
  • Author(s): C. Fivet and D. Zastavni
  • Keywords: design methods, structural definition, graphical methods, graphic statics, Robert Maillart, three-hinged concrete bridge
This paper sheds light on some of the graphical methods used by Robert Maillart to design the Salginatobel Bridge, a three-hinged concrete structure spanning 90 meters. Built in 1929, this masterpiece has since received extensive recognition both for its structural elegance and its efficiency. However investigations into the design process enabling this degree of perfection remain incomplete. Studying Maillart’s original working drawings, this paper reviews the earliest stages chronology of the Salginatobel Bridge design process. It focuses on three methods: the use of graphically controlled parabolas, the minimization of bending moments within the bridge and the geometrical definition of the foundation block. These graphical methods reveal how Maillart simultaneously dealt with geometry and the flow of forces throughout using a straightforward, handy and efficient form-finding process which is still relevant today.

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