On Friday 26th June Engineers Tony Hunt & Mark Whitby and Architect George Ferguson spoke to a lively audience of engineers, architects and enthusiastic lay people at Rook Lane Chapel on the subject of Benjamin Baker.
Tony Hunt gave the opening talk on Baker himself and the revolutionary design of the Forth Bridge. He raised the question of why Baker is not so well known as his early Victorian predecessors.
George Ferguson explored the purpose of iconic structures and how the boundaries between architects and engineers could be blurred.
Mark Whitby began his talk with a response to George’s assertion that the professions should become more closely linked. He then moved on to discuss the development of bridge design from the boom of the railways to the present day.
The debate was then thrown open to the floor and stimulating questions came thick and fast. Amongst the topics covered were materials science, construction, maintenance and longevity of bridges and architects’ involvement in bridge design. Examples ranged from Sydney Harbour bridge to the Millennium bridge and from the Pont de Quebec to Millau Viaduct. The audience was both inspired and inspiring on the subject of Baker’s influence on architecture and engineering and took us on a journey around the world and through history. The discussions then spilled over into a beautiful summer’s evening in the garden of Rook Lane Chapel.