Eduardo Torroja

Eduardo Torroja
Born 27 August 1899
Died 15 June 1961 (1961-06-16) (aged 61)
Nationality Spanish

Engineering career

Projects Tempul cable-stayed aqueduct
Significant advance concrete-shell structures
Awards Wilhelm Exner Medal, 1954

Eduardo Torroja y Miret, (27 August 1899 – 15 June 1961) was a Spanish structural engineer, a pioneer in the design of concrete shell structures.


Ingeniero Torroja Market, Algeciras

In 1923 Torroja began work for the Hidrocivil company, headed by the engineer José Eugenio Ribera. He planned and directed various types of work including the foundations of bridge piers, bridges, water supply and sanitation works, and various urban buildings.[1] Torroja's first large project was the Tempul cable-stayed aqueduct (1926) in Guadalete, Jerez de la Frontera, in which he used pre-stressed girders.[2] In 1928 he established his own office.[1]

Modesto López Otero, director for the Madrid University City (Ciudad Universitaria de Madrid) project, formed a diverse team of young architects to design the various buildings. Torroja joined the group in 1929. He worked with Manuel Sánchez Arcas, sharing his interest in new architectural forms that rejected preconceived formulas.[1] The first collaborative work of Torroja and Sanchez Arcas was the pavilion of the Construction Commission of the university city, completed in June 1931.[3] They worked on the heating plant (Central Térmica) and the clinical hospital for the university city.[4]

Sánchez Arcas and Torroja designed an enclosed and semi-spherical shell for the 1932 Algeciras market hall.[5] The 9 centimetres (3.5 in) thick concrete roof was 47.5 metres (156 ft) high, vaulted, supported on eight pillars. As an engineering work it is considered Torroja's masterpiece.[6] Sánchez Arcas and Torroja founded the journal Hormigón y Acero (Concrete and Steel). In 1934 they founded the Instituto Técnico de la Construcción y Edificación (ITCE, Technical Institute of Construction and Building).[4] Other founding members were the architect Modesto López Otero (1885–1962) and the engineers José María Aguirre Gonzalo (1897–1988) and Alfonso Peña Boeuf (1888–1966). The ITCE was a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and applying technical innovations in engineering civil structures.[7]

Roof of La Zarzuela Racetrack, Madrid, Spain

Eduardo Torroja designed the thin-shell water tower in Fedala[8] and the roof of "Zarzuela" racetrack in Madrid[9] in the form of a hyperboloid. He also used steel with great élan, as at the roof of the Football Stadium, Barcelona (1943). He designed innovative structures in numerous parts of the world, including Morocco and Latin America. His books include Philosophy of Structures (1958) and The Structures of Eduardo Torroja (1958).

Personal Characteristics

Torroja believed that a structure should follow the personality of its designer. Some believe every specific twist and turn in a structure reflects an important event in one’s life. Believing in the latter, Torroja developed new ways of looking at structures as well as ways to increase the strength of the structures without dimming aesthetics. Torroja illustrated an interest in forms of art that dwindled within most of his structures which often incorporated his visions.

Socioeconomic and Political Environment

In the 1920s, Europe was left in ruins to struggle with economic and political recovery. Since Spain was short on steel supplies, Torroja had to pursue other materials. In his search for new materials, Torroja became famous for his exploration of alternative uses for horse manure, which was found to be a strong and cheap in-cost material. Today, Torroja is renowned for his development of reinforced concrete.[10]



Further reading

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