In the 5 minutes of this video, José Antonio Torroja Cavanillas (Madrid, 1933), the son of Eduardo Torroja Miret (Madrid, 1899-1961), presents a very graphic example of how concrete laminar structures resist thanks to their shape. This type of structure is used for roofing. They can be said to take construction to one of its limits, covering large areas with concrete slabs of minimum thickness.
Laminar structures in Spain are necessarily associated to Eduardo Torroja, the great innovator in construction with armoured concrete, and the creator of completely new structures that earned him unprecedented international renown.
The laminar roofs designed by Eduardo Torroja include the roof of the Algeciras food market (1935), which covers a 47.62-metre span with concrete just 9 centimetres thick, the canopy of the Zarzuela Racetrack in Madrid (1935), which is 5 centimetres thick at the ends of its 12.80-metre cantilevers, and the roof of the Recoletos Fronton Court in Madrid (1936) which, with a sophisticated geometry, covers a 55-metre span with 8-centimetre thick armoured concrete.TheAlgeciras market (Cadiz) and the racetrack (Madrid) remain in a perfect condition, but the Fronton court was hit by a bomb during an attack on Madrid in the civil war, and collapsed a few days afterwards.
José Antonio Torroja Cavanillas became a civil engineer in 1957 at the School of Civil Engineering of Madrid (Escuela de Caminos de Madrid). Three years later, he started to work in his father’s project office, which he took over when his father died in 1961. Since then, he has been the best supporter of the work of Eduardo Torroja. He has enormous expertise in the calculation, design and construction management of all kinds of structures, especially viaducts made from armoured, prestressed concrete. There are more than forty bridges and viaducts in his curriculum, including the international bridge over the Miño River (1992) and theTamaraceite viaduct (1993).
Torroja Cavanillas was Professor of Armoured and Prestressed Concrete at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.He was the director of the School of Civil Engineering of Barcelona from 1973 to 1979, and of the Madrid School from 1981 to 1989. He was named doctor honoris causa by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.
José Antonio Torroja presided the Civil Engineering Association for twelve years (1988-2000), which gives some idea of how respected and admired he is by his colleagues. He received the National Engineering Prize in 2007.
José Antonio Torroja now presides the Eduardo Torroja Foundation, created in 2004 to combine civil engineering with architecture, following the “model of thinking and action with which Eduardo Torroja created his international, multidisciplinary school”.