The Curve in Architecture

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The Curve in Architecture
© Oscar Niemeyer

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A landscape architect once asked us, “Are you straight edged or curve people?” At the time, I didn’t get the point, but he hit the nail on the head. I don’t know what it says about us, but we like curves. Fast forward to significant trends in today’s architecture, and you see curves everywhere.

The Curve in Architecture
3XN Denmark’s Blue Planet Aquarium

Landmark public buildings like Zaha Hadid’s 2022 World Cup Soccer Stadium in Qatar, Fernando Romero’s Museo Soumaya, and 3XN Denmark’s Blue Planet Aquarium grab your attention immediately. But, curved footprints and profiles are starting to define the shape of homes and apartment towers, too. But, building curves require new and innovative methods and materials.

Supporting the curve

Designing buildings dominated by curves presents new challenges. For example, the expansion of San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art adds sculpted shapes to offset the blocky pile of the original building. In an attempt to reflect the ripples on San Francisco Bay, architects called for individual panels of fiberglass composites pieced together to form a three dimensional curtain.

Regardless of the building’s surface or apparent shape, there is some functional geometry underneath. You still need horizontals and verticals to define space and support weight. And, all buildings of significant size have complex underground worlds.

Laying the foundation

You tend to think of architecture as the look of the place, but it demands the complex contribution of engineering starting well below ground. Under any major building winds a complicated system of spaces and places for electricity, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and other building services.
These spaces fill floors below the street surface. And, in some environments, that means holding back the water table, working around or redirecting sewage lines, and working with existing subway tunnels.

Digging the ditch

Filling those spaces starts with excavation, often many floors down. Protecting the workers who make all this happen are trench boxes. The trench shield is a simple idea that places strong sidewalls to create a space within which workers can do their job safely. Depending on the depth of the work, you choose the resistance needed to protect against buckling and collapse. Spreaders brace the walls and can adjust to various widths.

Project managers call for digging trenches to lay phone lines, fiber optic cables, back flow valves, and more. Trench boxes are solid and reusable; others can be adjusted or disassembled. A rubber-tired backhoe will pull or push the trench box unit along as workers complete their tasks.

The Curve in Architecture

Aluminum trench boxes

Aluminum trench boxes have an advantage in their light weight. For example, the ICON’s small trench boxes can be carried on a half ton pickup truck. It takes only two workers to assemble the trench box’s hollow 2.5″ double walls without special tools. Boxes vary in length and width, but they serve most architecture and engineering needs.

The Curve in Architecture

Of course, a leading feature lies in the reusability of the apparatus. Construction units dedicated to excavations will have an inventory of trench boxes. Smaller users will rent their units as needed.

Designed to meet engineering standards and comply with OSHA guidelines, trench boxes shore up walls to protect workers from collapsing soil, rocks, and erosion. You can connect the workers and their productivity in a series of boxes, in systems when necessary, or move them along as work progresses.

Municipal Sewer & Water reports that trench collapses kill two to three employees each month. Some 68 percent of the victims died working for construction firms with fewer than 50 employees. That’s a sobering thought worth attention and the easy cost-effective solution provided by trench boxes.

About the Author:
Wendy Dessler
Title: Super-Connector at OutreachMamaWendy is a super-connector with OutreachMama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

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