25 January 2009

Memories of Swiss Construction Online

In a recent post I linked to a paper by Bill Addis that is freely available at the Memory of Swiss Construction Online website. I think the website is an excellent historical resource for serious students of bridge engineering, and hence worth a short post of its own.

For monolingual English speakers such as myself, the most useful part of the site is the extensive digitised collections of IABSE publications, including conference reports, journals etc, dating back to 1932 (see cover image, right). These include material on all sorts of specialist subjects, such as ship collision with bridges, cable-stayed bridges, and numerous individual structures such as the Ganter Bridge. The most recent IABSE publications remain available only to members, but making so much material available freely still represents exceptional generosity.

Of particular interest to me, for example, is IABSE's 15th Congress report which includes amongst many other things an extensive set of papers on aesthetics in structural engineering. But the real benefit is for historians - there are IABSE papers dating back several decades, many by key figures in bridge engineering history.

For those whose language skills are wider, there's more excellent material to be found in the archived Swiss journals such as Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt and Schweizerische Bauzeitung (cover image shown right for the very first issue), some of which date back to the 19th century. These include original papers by engineers ranging from Robert Maillart to Jürg Conzett - all relatively easy to locate through the search system provided.

If only others with similar resources would follow suit: access to the equivalent records of the Institution of Civil Engineers can cost as much as £1,776!

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