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Felix Candela dies


Felix Candela, exponent of thin-shell concrete structures, has died aged 86. Admired equally by architects and engineers, he was an honorary fellow of the riba, and an Institution of Structural Engineers gold medallist. Born in Madrid, Candela emigrated to Mexico in 1939, and eventually moved to the us in 1971.

He built his first shell structure in 1949, using formwork constructed from straight timbers. Subsequently his use of hyperbolic paraboloids was to produce spectacular structures.

Following the success of the Cosmic Ray Pavilion for Mexico University in the early 1950s, Candela became popular world-wide, and provided a striking concrete structure for John Lewis in Stevenage, his only work in the uk (now demolished). The range of building types was prodigious, from factories to churches, houses to nightclubs, whole villages to transmission masts, and including shell forms which were pure sculpture.

John Winter described Candela as, like Prouve in France and Nervi in Italy, 'both builder and designer, sharing with them the advantages and disadvantages of the situation. The advantages are a close relationship between design and construction and an interest in the formal possibilities of building very cheaply. The chief disadvantage is that the work is often carried out for indifferent architects.'

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