church of Notre Dame du Raincy, Paris, of 1922–1923, claimed by architectural historian Peter Collins to be the most revolutionary building of the first quarter of the twentieth century. Raincy was a model for other churches by Perret, including St. Therese, Montmagny (1925); a chapel at Arcueil (1925); and St. Joseph, Le Havre (begun in 1950). Perret’s carefully designed shuttering, producing “off-form” surfaces that needed no further finishing work, inspired the so-called Brutalist architecture movement, mostly British, of the late 1950s, as well as Japanese architecture right to the end of the twentieth century.

Beyond what may now be described as orthodox reinforced concrete construction, a number of engineers—the German Ulrich Finsterwalder, the Italian Pier Luigi Nervi, and the Spaniards Eduardo Torrojay Miret and Felix Candela—pushed the versatile material to its technological limits, developing the cantilever and the thin shells that may be regarded as the ultimate concrete form.

See also

Airplane hangars; Maillart’s bridges; Roman concrete construction; Shell concrete

Further reading

Collins, Peter. 1959. Concrete: The Vision of a New Architecture. London: Faber and Faber.

Idorn, Gunnar M. 1997. Concrete Progress: From Antiquity to Third Millennium. London: Thomas Telford.

Straub, Hans. 1952. A History of Civil Engineering. London: L. Hill.

Renault Distribution Center

Swindon, England

High-technology (usually contracted to “high-tech”) architecture was a movement born in the 1960s and sustained through the 1980s. It sought to express zeitgeist—the spirit of the age—defined by its followers as resting in the technological advances of industry, communications, and travel, including aerospace developments. These advances offered an alternative building approach. “High-tech” architects produced machinelike structures of flexible plan, applying lightweight materials such as sheet metal, glass, and plastic to innovative structural techniques; they employed easily assembled, sometimes mass-produced, building components. Usually, the structure was made explicit (often reinforced by colorful paintwork). Sometimes the services were exposed. Constructed between 1980 and 1983, the Renault Distribution Center at Swindon, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of London, was and continues to be regarded as the archetypal high-tech building.

The brief called for a building that established a progressive corporate identity and stood out from the featureless industrial shed typical of the area. It was to suit multiple functions, be quickly constructed, and capable of later extension. Architect Norman Foster of Foster Associates, together with the engineering firm of Ove Arup and Partners, responded with a design for a visually arresting, structurally self-explicit building that dominated what has been described as an otherwise bleak landscape.

Foster was born in 1935 in Manchester, England. He trained as an architect and town planner at the University of Manchester (1956–1961) before undertaking a master’s degree in architecture at Yale University (1961–1962). Soon after, following a brief period with Richard Buckminster Fuller, he returned to England to set up practice with his wife Wendy and Richard and-Su Rogers. They worked as Team 4 between 1964 and 1967 until the partnership was superseded by Foster Associates, now Foster and Partners. In the late 1960s Foster and Richard Rogers made a significant architectural statement at Swindon with the Reliance Controls Factory (1967), one of the last Team 4 projects. Its elegance, use of off-the-shelf components, exposed steel structural bracing, metal cladding, wall-high glazing, flexible plan, and focus on improved employee working conditions all challenged the conventional wisdom about industrial buildings. Reliance Controls was an early example of high tech.

Almost two decades later the Swindon landscape was again confronted—this time by the unconventional form of the Renault Center. Brilliant yellow (Renault’s corporate color) cable-stayed tubular steel masts supported a reinforced polyvinyl chloride (PVC) membrane roof that covered spaces for spare parts warehousing, visitor reception, distribution and regional offices, vehicle showroom, after-sales maintenance training, and staff dining. Its expressive,