Archive by category | Materials science

Master builder: Ove Arup

Ove Arup by Godfrey Argent, 1969

He was the structural innovator behind Sydney Opera House, founded the world’s leading engineering consultancy, and pioneered the philosophy of “total design” — the equal partnership of engineers, architects and designers in construction. Anglo-Danish engineer Ove Arup (1895-1988) is now celebrated in this first retrospective of his work, Engineering the World, at London’s Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, part of its Engineering Season.  Read more

Industrial optimist: Moholy-Nagy revisited

László Moholy-Nagy Dual Form with Chromium Rods, 1946 (Plexiglas and chrome-plated brass)

I’m standing in the spiraling rotunda of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, and over me dangles a chaotic mess held together by translucent Plexiglas. In the shadow the sculpture casts on the wall, the shapes converge in a pleasing negative blending intention and happenstance – impossible to predict, yet clearly part of a plan. On evidence, this is an artist thinking experimentally, and in multiple dimensions.  Read more

Suspended animation: Calder’s sculptural revolution

Alexander Calder's mobile Black Widow, c. 1948 (wire and painted metal),  Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil, São Paulo.

She hangs dark, immense and pocked with holes in a white room, a beast of many parts languidly revolving in the air. Part leaf, part lever, all magisterial grace, Black Widow is a quintessential Calder mobile — one of the signature inventions of the extraordinary twentieth-century artist-engineer.  Read more

Graphene structures at the cutting edge

Graphene structures at the cutting edge

Did you ever make paper snowflakes as a kid? The kind where you fold a circle of paper several times, cut shapes out, then unfold it to reveal a beautifully symmetrical pattern? This is kirigami, the ancient Japanese art of paper cutting. Now physicist Melina Blees has applied the same technique to the ‘supermaterial’ graphene — strong sheets of carbon a single atom thick.  Read more