Henry van de Velde
prof. Gustave Magnel (expert in concrete), prof. Jean-Norbert Cloquet (expert in concrete)
Concrete by reinforcement
Concrete is a relatively brittle material that is strong in compression but less so in tension.
To increase its overall strength, steel rods, wires, mesh or cables may be embedded in concrete before it sets. This reinforcement, often known as rebar, resists tensile forces. By forming a strong bond, the two materials are able to resist a variety of applied forces, effectively acting as a single structural element .
In this case, the concrete can be made by mixing the components directly on site, or it may be transported from a production plant in concrete-mixer trucks.
This method has the disadvantage of leaving the concrete exposed to the elements while it is setting. Whereas, with other methods, the environmental conditions can be controlled during setting, providing greater control over the outcome, with cast-in-place concrete a series of tests and protocols are necessary to verify its final strength.
- textured walls
- wooden formwork finish
- stamped concrete
- exposed aggregate concrete, colored concrete, etc.
Beams are the horizontal load-bearing elements of the frame. Columns are the vertical elements of the frame and act as the building’s primary load-bearing element. They transmit the beam loads down to the foundations.
A shear wall resists loads parallel to the plane of the wall. Collectors, also known as drag members, transfer the diaphragm shear to shear walls and other vertical elements in the seismic force resisting system. Shear walls are typically light-framed or braced wooden walls with shear panels, reinforced concrete walls, reinforced masonry walls or steel plates.
State of Conservation
The Book Tower at the University of Ghent is a late work by the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde. The building houses the university library and reading rooms, as well as a large storage area. Van de Velde associated the storage function with a surprising typology: a tower. The decision had a logic to it. It would be the fourth tower in the skyline of Ghent; whereas the others represented religion and politics, the new tower would symbolize knowledge and the university’s extraordinarily important role in the life of the city.
The building was designed with a U-shaped floor plan around a central courtyard. A program of reading rooms, consultation rooms and classrooms occupies the ground floor, with administrative offices on a mezzanine level. The tower is located at one of the corners. It has a square floor plan of 20 meters per side and is 64 meters high. It has storage capacity for 3 million volumes and a characteristic top, which also serves as an observatory.
As one would expect from its architect, the building is a “total” work that pays close attention to detail and design, both in the construction elements and in the interiors and furnishings. Concrete is not only used in the tower for its structural capabilities; its expressive qualities are also harnessed. Although Belgium was one of the pioneering countries in concrete construction, the material’s use in this instance was exceptional for the period. The building’s structure was also innovative: structural 18-cm-thick concrete perimeter walls and an interior “skeleton” made from a framework of beams and pillars to support lateral forces. The lower sections of the building also have exposed concrete façades on the outside, although they are only 8 cm thick, with an air chamber and interior walls made of brick.
The building began showing problems with concrete carbonation in the 1970s and has undergone an intense and complex rehabilitation process; it was a magnificent intervention which, in addition to returning to the building its original appearance, has provided the opportunity for testing technical solutions that will be useful for other buildings with similar pathologies.
Flemish Region, East Flanders (province) B-9000 Ghent
Fundación DOCOMOMO Ibérico