Crystal Palace – An Extract

(from architecture of Eden )

pg 112 – Under Paxton , the site of the Great Exhibition glasshouse quickly became a highly efficient building factory, His mechanized system churned out timber sash bars at the rate of nearly 3 miles a day. Even the painting was automated; the bars were whipped through a paint bath and then the excess paint brushed off. For the cast iron trusses Fox Henderson borrow from the mass production techniques initially used for railway buildings. They were to be weighed to check for air pockets and then pre-stressed using hydraulic jacks to provide uniformity in the truss depths over a variety of spans.


The key to Paxton’s design was repetition and weight. Small and light components were easily lifted into place with block and tackle. the fast ‘dry construction’ was vital to the building’s success. The frame would be raised quickly. The beams were placed into sockets in the columns, and then locked into place by hammering in two wedges (the is really close to my design make comparison!!)

After the Exhibition, Paxton’s team simply packed up the hall and moved it to Sydenham where it survived for another eighty years before the fire.


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