Steel is a multi-faceted building material with a wide range of possible applications. Its advantages are on display, for example, in a cost-efficient, flexible module system for (small) dwellings in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, and in an Alpine cable-car station. Steel’s – perhaps somewhat unexpected – sensual qualities are evident in a restaurant in Luxembourg. The pavilion’s striking skin, of pre-oxidised steel with a rough, irregular patina, is every bit as oriented to the sense of touch as is the interior, where the guests encounter furnishings with untreated-steel surfaces.
Above all, however, steel is at present virtually indispensable for bridging long spans and implementing complex geometrical forms. Since the beginning of industrialisation it is the construction material of choice for audacious, lofty structures. What would the history of architecture be without the intricate greenhouses, the glass-covered arcades, and, above all, the great train sheds in London and Paris?