eugene freyssinet


Eugene Freyssinet, Airship Hangars in Orly, France, (1921-1923)

“The First World War brought Freyssinet many military commissions including a series of aircraft hangars at Istres, Bouches-du-Rhone in 1917 and these twin dirigible sheds which were built at Orly between 1916 and 1924. As with Eiffel’s career, Freyssinet’s genius resided as much in his constructional method as in his prowess with a given structural technique. In these paraboloid arches, he demonstrated for the first time his mastery of moving formwork for the casting of in-situ concrete. These 300-foot-wide, 200-foot-high vaults were each built in two stages. The first stage consisted of 55 feet high springing, cast in place as an integral part of the reinforced foundations on either side of the hangar. The fully ‘folded’ and partly glazed concrete shell arch cast above this springing was built by adding one V-shaped rib at a time. These ribs were cast into movable plywood molds which in their turn were supported by a mobile timber formwork, 7.5 meters wide… These remarkable forms, each 915 feet long were destroyed at the end of the Second World War.”

— Kenneth Frampton and Yukio Futagawa. Modern Architecture 1851-1945