Structures in sculpture
Engineering balancing art
Organized by the San Pablo CEU University and the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE), the conference entitled “From Structural Design to Design of Structures” was held in early February 2018. One of the partners of IDOM, Jorge Bernabéu, a lecturer at the Civil Engineering School of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, participated in the event. The main objective of the conference was to stimulate creativity in the design of structures.
Jorge made a presentation entitled “Structure in sculpture. The impossible balance”, looking at classical and contemporary sculptor from the perspective of structural engineering. The aspiration of sculpture to transcend the material employed requires, in many cases, the collaboration of engineering to solve the challenges that art poses.
For example, the statue of Filipe IV mounted on horseback dating from 1640, and located in the Plaza de Oriente in Madrid, was an unprecedented piece of sculpture with a very difficult physical resolution: a horse reared up on its hind legs. Galileo Galilei participated in resolving the structural challenge, and proposed that the thickness of the bronze used decreased from the tail and legs (an almost solid structure) to the head, which is barely two millimeters thick.
The piece by Eduardo Chillida, suspended under the Juan Bravo bridge in Madrid, is the first application of concrete as a sculptural material. The piece, fruit of the collaboration of the sculptor with the Civil Engineer José Antonio Fernández Ordóñez, hangs from the piers of the bridge, levitating 70 cm above the ground, as if it were defying gravity.