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The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering of Masonry Architecture

The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering of Masonry Architecture

The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering of Masonry Architecture
By Jacques Heyman

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Book Description

In this book, Heyman provides a thorough and intuitive understanding of masonry structures such as arch bridges, Greek temples, and Gothic cathedrals. Although the approach is firmly scientific, the author does not use complex mathematics. He introduces the basis of masonry analysis in the first two chapters, after which he considers individual structures--including piers, pinnacles, towers, vaults and domes--in more detail. This lucid and informative text will be of particular interest to structural engineers, practicing architects and others involved in the renovation and care of old stone buildings.

Book Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1183388 in Books
  • Brand: Brand: Cambridge University Press
  • Published on: 1997-07-28
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.98" h x .39" w x 5.98" l, .59 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 172 pages


  • Used Book in Good Condition

Editorial Reviews

"...this book is a delight for the student of architecture, engineering, history, and art... The book is clearly written, meticulously illustrated, and beautifully bound. The author's fascination and love of his subject is infectious." M.-A. Erki, Applied Mechanics Review

" of the most fascinating books on structural engineering that this reviewer has read in recent years." S.C. Anand, Choice

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful.
3For PE's only
By No Fat Chicks
What is the time scale for the settlement and cracking of an old stone building? I'll probably never know, because despite its claims (and other reviews), this is a book for neither beginner nor layman. This is an academic text for practicing and professional structural engineers, and makes no bones about it; the very first sentence of the preface explains that the chapters in these books were previously published separately as articles in scientific journals, and then synthesized into a whole. And, like most journal papers, this book assumes an incredibly high degree of specialized knowledge. I figured that having an engineering degree myself, I could just brush up on my statics and follow right along; sadly, that was not the case.

The key thing to realize is that this is not some rehash of someone else's theories streamlined for the masses; this is *the* seminal work on how these building stay up, written by the guy who figured it out. This is not the book that references the original source, this IS the original source that other works reference. Read any other paper on the subject, and you will more than likely find this in the bibliography, or passing references to the "Heyman Theory". And, like all good niche scientific papers, it's very terse, poorly edited, and irritatingly overpriced. And while that's fine for Springer Press, you can't call your book "clear" and "lucid" and then pack it full of esoteric technical jargon.

As an example, here is a except from page 8 of the introduction: "If the material of the arch of figure 1.3 is linear-elastic (or obeys any other known deformation characteristic), and if the abutments are rigid, then a unique position can be calculated for the thrust line which equilibrates the given loads (self-weight and any others specified)." It's like this right out of the gate, and only gets more dense as the chapters continue. If you can't immediately recall, say, the difference between elasticity and plasticity, or what makes a structure hyperstatic, then this book is probably out of your league no matter how many times you read each paragraph. Or maybe I'm just a dimwit, I don't know.

A much better alternative (and potential workup for this book) for anyone who is technically inclined but not a licensed structural engineer is "The Science of Structural Engineering", also by the same author. It covers much of the same information, but presents it in a readable, historical context, details the evolution of how new theories replaced the old ones (and why), and has enough example diagrams to demonstrate the problems and solutions without your eyes glazing over.

All that being said, however, if you are interested in this subject either professionally or in passing, you will likely have to get this book at some point no matter what: apart from being the first, it's essentially the only.

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
5For Layman AND Engineer Alike
By Ray
Jacques Heyman's text is without doubt one of the most interesting books I've read in the last couple of years. I became interested in gothic architecture after seeing for the first time in person a gothic structure, the St. Eustache church in the Les Halles area of Paris. It was 2001, and this first sight of such a building forced me to hearken back to my undergraduate engineering mechanics classes from a decade earlier. The stunning magnificence of my "find" in central Paris that day eventually drove me to more fully explore the structural operation of this style of architecture which lay behind the dramatic visual appearance of "gothic."

I began my little quest by identifying, and then visiting, the principal gothic structures in France (with the help of such great books as Stan Parry's introduction to gothic architecture). I then attempted to identify the key architectural elements common in all these structures. Finally, I researched the historical development of the style all the way from Suger's St. Denis basilica to the emergence of the Renaissance. But all this research left me with some unanswered questions. How do simple forms, such as the pointed arch, the flying buttress, and the barrel vault, actually operate? Why would such forms remain standing up, even when, in some cases, surrounding parts of the building had been destroyed in times of war, or perhaps by stone-robbing to build other structures (for example, structures at Ourscamp, Soissons, and Caen)? For that matter, why even use features such as the flying buttress, when other, simpler forms would suffice?

The Stone Skeleton thoroughly answers these questions, not from an aesthetic or historical view, but from an engineering view, where geometry, stereometry, thrusts, force vectors, the pull of gravity, and the physical properties of concrete and stone are the principal actors of interest. Although it is true that the book does investigate the subject through the lens of engineering (this is the books forte, and why it is such an invaluable addition to the subject), and the volume occupies itself at length with the examination of forces present in concrete and stone structures, most anyone with a moderate mathematical background and the patience to re-read a paragraph until the concepts become clear can profit from this text. In my mind, it is a missing link in the immense genre of gothic architecture texts.

I picture this text to have two related, but nevertheless discrete, audiences. The first is the one described above, the person who is interested in gothic architecture as an historical and aesthetic art phenomenon, and wishes to develop a greater understanding of the structural factors behind such structures. With a little work and patience, the text more than fulfils this need. But the second audience is the actual engineering student or in-practice engineer who wishes to develop a more sophisticated knowledge of the mechanics of concrete and stone structures. In this sense, I could easily see this work used as the textbook for an entire undergraduate or master's level course, or perhaps as a text for a directed independent study, where the end result is a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of stone structures and the actual operation of the architectural devices present in gothic structures (barrel vaults, groin vaults, domes, arches, pointed arches, piers, flying buttresses, pinnacles, and so on).

I remember at some point in my gothic investigations I came up with a nagging question: why is the lower side of a flying buttress curved? Why not just lay a straight, diagonal beam from the outer wall of the building to the outer buttress pier? Was the curve added for aesthetics? Or was there some important design principle at play? Eager to find the answer and certain that this little fact would be easily discovered, I turned to my mini-library of gothic, only to be repeatedly disappointed (often, tantalizingly so, with texts that ALMOST addressed the question). The answer finally came in Heyman's text, along with many such similar questions. If you, too, are interested in such questions, this book is for you.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
4Four Stars
By Ric
Another excellent book concerning the building of a cathedral. Structural engineering 101 is a helpful prerequisite.

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