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Bridges: The science and art of the world's most inspiring structures [Hardcover]

David Blockley
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 17.67
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Book Description

25 Feb 2010
Bridges touch all our lives - every day we are likely to cross a bridge, or go under one. How many of us stop to consider how the bridge stands up and what sort of people designed and built something so strong?

Bridge building is a magnificent example of the practical and every day use of science. However, the story of bridges goes beyond science and technology, and involves issues relating to artistic and cultural development. After all, bridges are built by people, for people. Bridges can be icons for whole cities; just consider New York's Brooklyn Bridge, London's Tower Bridge, and Sydney's Harbour Bridge. Such bridges can be considered functional public art, as they have the power to delight or be an eyesore.

David Blockley explains how to read a bridge, in all its different forms, design, and construction, and the way the forces flow through arches and beams. He combines the engineering of how bridges stand up with the cultural, aesthetic, and historical importance they hold. Drawing on examples of particular bridges from around the world, he also looks in detail at the risk engineers take when building bridges, and examines why things sometimes go wrong.

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Bridges: The science and art of the world's most inspiring structures + Dan Cruickshank's Bridges: Heroic Designs that Changed the World
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (25 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199543593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199543595
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 489,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


David Blockley expertly describes the processes, relationships, materials and philosophies of engineering. (Hugh Pouliot, Canadian Geographic)

Engaging and thoughtful book. Bridges deserve our attention. (David Rooney. History Today)

About the Author

Professor Blockley is an engineer and an academic scientist. He has been Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, and the Royal Society of Arts. He has written four other books including The Penguin Dictionary of Civil Engineering (2005).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This book is written by a professor of engineering, but with the general reader in mind. Although it deals with technical matters, these are presented in a way that does not require a high level of mathematics or physics. It has 50 illustrations including many magnificent photographs.

The structure of the book is as clear as the structure of the bridges that it discusses. After an introductory chapter it considers the four main types of bridge in turn; beams, arches, trusses, and suspension. It then considers the question of safety, and finally the development and maintenance of bridges as team work.

Bridges are considered as works of art as well as civil engineering, and the book is very rich in references to other arts and to culture in the widest sense, with references to Newton, Kant, Michelangelo, Giotto, Palladio, Herodotus, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, and many others. David Blockley also considers bridges as symbols, icons, landmarks, and as objects of inspiration.

There are fascinating sections on many celebrated bridges including the wobbly Millennium Bridge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Salginatobel Bridge, and the Millau Viaduct.

This is also a book that could be of value to schools. It brings maths and physics to life, and could be a vehicle for taking students on trips to visit bridges to see how these disciplines are used in practice in ways that are important as transport links as well as being imaginative and inspirational.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good 25 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is. A great book, especially if you like bridges. I got this for my friends 40th as she is mad on bridges!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nice book giving information on that most common place of items, the bridge. Includes stories of bridges that stayed up and a few that have come down.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish it 7 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"A picture is worth a thousand words". The publishers should have remembered this as this would have prevented the author from getting entangled in descriptions of the bridges and what they are made of. That said, as a scientist myself, I even found the explanations of the few equations featured in the book to be confusing! There are many technical words which are not explained which make those complicated explanations incomprehensible. Seeing the bridge one reads about on a photo would surely have helped the reader...
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