Eladio Dieste : biography
Atlántida, Uruguay]] Door of Wisdom, locally nicknamed 'The Gull', a sculptural tribute to Dieste at [[Salto, Uruguay, using his techniques]]
Eladio Dieste (December 10, 1917 - July 29, 2000) was a Uruguayan engineer and architect who made his reputation by building a range of structures from grain silos, factory sheds, markets and churches, all in Uruguay and all of exceptional elegance.
Dieste was born in Artigas department. His uncle was the poet Rafael Dieste.
A particular innovation was his Gaussian vault, a thin-shell structure for roofs in single-thickness brick, that derives its stiffness and strength from a double curvature catenary arch form that resists buckling failure.The double-curvature masonry vaults of Eladio Dieste, Pedreschi, R, Theodossopoulos, D, ICE Proceedings, Structures and Buildings, Vol 160, Issue 1, pp 3-11, Thomas Telford - ICE Virtual Library
There were several architects in South and Latin America who were working in the modernist language, such as Carlos Raúl Villanueva in Venezuela and Félix Candela in Mexico, but Dieste, was one of the few to bring architecture and structural engineering into close proximity, especially when undertaking humble commissions. His buildings were mostly roofed with thin shell vaults constructed of brick and ceramic tiles. These forms were cheaper than reinforced concrete, and didn't require ribs and beams. In developing this approach, even in comparison with modernists the world over, he was an innovator.Anderson, Stanford. Eladio Dieste: Innovation in Structural Art, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004).
Dieste is quoted about his use of materials and structure:
- There are deep moral/practical reasons for our search which give form to our work: with the form we create we can adjust to the laws of matter with all reverence, forming a dialogue with reality and its mysteries in essential communion... For architecture to be truly constructed, the materials must be used with profound respect for their essence and possibilities; only thus can 'cosmic economy' be achieved... in agreement with the profound order of the world; only then can have that authority that so astounds us in the great works of the past.Quoted from Modern Architecture since 1900, p575.
With regard to structure Dieste stated:
- The resistant virtues of the structure that we make depend on their form; it is through their form that they are stable and not because of an awkward accumulation of materials. There is nothing more noble and elegant from an intellectual viewpoint than this; resistance through form.Quoted from Eladio Dieste - The Engineer's Contribution to Contemporary Architecture, page 21.
Many of the techniques that he developed to achieve these forms, such as pre-stressing of brickwork and moveable formworks, were in advance of contemporary techniques in the developed world.
He died, aged 82, in Montevideo.
- Fausto Giovannardi , . Borgo San Lorenzo, 2007.
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