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Steel construction

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?

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