The return of grace?

The Chapel of King’s College Cambridge is famous not just for its choral music but also for its architecture. A unique expression of the high Gothic style, it has a fan-vaulted ceiling that looks like a living web of stone. This ethereal construct is in fact very solid.

The delicate masonry is, according to The Economist of 3rd June 2017, “strong enough that it is possible to walk onto the ceiling’s shallow vault, in the gap beneath the timber roof.”

Such structures have fallen out of fashion these days, continues The Economist: “They are too complicated for the methods employed by most modern builders, and the skilled labour required to produce them is scarce and pricey. Now, though, new technologies are beginning to bring this kind of construction back within reach. Powerful computers allow designers to envisage structures that squeeze more out of the compromise between utility, aesthetics and cost. And 3D printing can help turn those complicated intricate designs into reality.” The article continues with a discussion of the FreeFAB 3D printing technology run by the construction firm Laing O’Rourke. Cause to hope that grace, as well as utility, will characterise some of the landmark building projects of the future.

View Archive