Civil engineering is
This has reference
to the Point of View "Civil engineering is noble too!"
by Dr N. Subramanian published in the September 2000 issue
(pp. 507-508) of your Journal. Every word of Dr Subramanian’s
"point of view" deserves full support. There is
in fact a fatal discrepancy between the image of civil engineers
and their role in society. Without civil engineering there
would be no civilisation.
I believe that
beyond what Dr Subramanian said there is one further important
reason for this discrepancy. We tend to neglect our cultural
responsibility —we miss the chance to invest in our bridges,
towers, roof structures, industrial plants, etc,. beyond
our technical knowledge and experience our creative fantasy.
Thus, we miss the best part of our profession: to conceive
and form our structures from a cultural point of view. The
only equivalent to built-up nature is culture.
an infrastructure may be technically and functionally perfect
it is only through culture that it integrates into civilisation.
We engineers must insist that art and culture are indivisible.
Not only public buildings, banks and museums, deserve public
attention, for example, in the form of design competitions,
but also other structures. Bridges, which are often much
larger and imposing than buildings, be it in an urban (flyovers)
or natural context (viaducts), should not be selected on
the basis of least cost.
In the public
opinion civil engineering is neither high-tech nor creative.
But in fact it is both, more than any other profession.
We should not
accept that inspite of all the admirable scientific and
technical progress from materials through computer assistance
to robot manufacture, our structures lack in beauty and
variety, all standard, clumsy and ugly, not really reflecting
that progress. This gap is evident especially in India with
its unique historic architecture and art.
which appears grey and low-tech will today neither attract
public financial support for research and education nor
young and creative talent which is worse. To be attractive
for the rising generation, a practical profession today
must either be high-tech (physics, electronics, aeronautics,
biotechnics...) or artistically creative (movies, music,
fashion, architecture ...), apart from the exhibitive alternative
(politics, events, sports...).
that in the public opinion civil engineering is neither
high-tech nor creative. But in fact it is both, more than
any other profession!
structures should, scientific and intuitive influences should
combine reamlessly. Structural art is impossible without
both knowledge and fantasy. Quality can only result from
a truly holistic approach. Therefore civil engineering will
appeal to scientific and creative talent as well — if we
reanimate our cultural responsibility! If we neglect the
cultural aspect, we remain what we are, grey technocrats.
If we neglect the scientific-technical aspect, we get what
is praised incidently on pp. 509-510 of the same issue of
The Indian Concrete Journal (Review of a book titled
"What is a Bridge..... The Making of Calatrava's Bridge
in Seville" - Editor). This is the other extreme, unacceptable
as well. No, a bird is a bird and a bridge a bridge. And
if such a bridge costs Rs 2.2 lakhs/m2, it is unsociable
and irresponsible, not at all able to outstrip the works
of Maillart, Torroja, Candela, Nervi, because they were
able to create structural art in its true sense by combining
both aspects with their social responsibility bearing society
in mind. After all, the ultimate goal of structural design
is to provide the adequate aesthetic expression for the
most perfect and the most efficient technical and functional