Paul Cottancin

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Paul Cottancin
Born(1865-01-12)January 12, 1865
Reims, France
Known forReinforced concrete and brick structures
Interior of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre Paris (75) Eglise Saint-Jean de Montmartre 06.JPG
Interior of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre

Paul Cottancin (12 January 1865 - 1928) was a French engineer and a pioneer in the use of reinforced brickwork and concrete. He is known for the church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre in Paris, which he designed in collaboration with the architect Anatole de Baudot.

Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre church located in Paris, in France

The Church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre is located at 19 Rue des Abbesses in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.

Anatole de Baudot French architect

Joseph-Eugène-Anatole de Baudot was a French architect and a pioneer of reinforced-concrete construction. He was a prolific author, architect for diocesan buildings, architect for historical monuments, and a professor of architecture. He is known for the church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre in Paris, the first to be built using concrete reinforced with steel rods and wire mesh.



Paul Cottancin was born in Reims in 1865. [1] He studied engineering at the École centrale des arts et manufactures. [2] He received a diploma from the École Centrale in 1886, and filed his first patent in March 1889 for a type of metal frame for reinforced cement or other reinforced materials. [3] He subsequently moved to England and then to Ireland. He worked as a contractor and a consultant, and also as engineer for his own structures. [1] He filed a series of patents up to 1900 as he refined his reinforced concrete system. [4]

Reims Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Reims is a city in the Grand Est region of France, lying 129 km (80 mi) east-northeast of Paris. The 2013 census recorded 182,592 inhabitants in the city of Reims proper, and 317,611 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. Its primary river, the Vesle, is a tributary of the Aisne.

Paul Cottancin died in 1928. [1] He has been seen as having considerably more artistic sensitivity than was common with engineers of his day. [5] He thought of his structures in terms of surfaces and forms. [3]

Cottancin's system

Cottancin did not use heavy bars within thin layers of concrete, but dissipated force by using wire meshes and nets distributed throughout the material. [6] His 1889 patent was for wire mesh embedded in 50 millimetres (2.0 in) concrete slabs, supported by "spinal stiffeners", or triangulated ribs. [7] With his iron or steel trellises he could make plane or curved shapes. [3] The structures that employed his designs typically have plate-like arches and struts. [6] Cottancin also experimented with hollow masonry laced with wires and filled with cement. [6] The bricks have the same compression strength as the cement, while the wires resist extension. Using bricks avoids the need to build and remove forms for the cement. [8]

In contrast to other engineers working in reinforced concrete, Cottancin did not see the material in terms of the actions, tension and compression of the component materials. [1] Instead, he viewed the sheets of reinforced concrete used for the walls and floors of his buildings as a monolithic material in its response to stress. [9] Cottancin's woven mesh may be viewed as a precursor to modern welded sheets of steel fabric. [10] However, Cottancin's system was less practical than the béton armé technique of François Hennebique, perfected in 1897, which became standard practice after Paul Christophe published Le béton armé et ses applications in 1902. [11]

François Hennebique French civil engineer

François Hennebique was a French engineer and self-educated builder who patented his pioneering reinforced-concrete construction system in 1892, integrating separate elements of construction, such as the column and the beam, into a single monolithic element. The Hennebique system was one of the first appearances of the modern reinforced-concrete method of construction.


Ceiling vaults of Saint-Jean de Montmartre Paris (75) Eglise Saint-Jean de Montmartre 09.JPG
Ceiling vaults of Saint-Jean de Montmartre

Saint-Jean de Montmartre

Cottancin worked with Anatole de Baudot, a structural-rationalist pupil of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, in the design of the church of Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre. Building started in 1897, but was suspended in 1899. The immediate reason was an infraction of planning regulations, but doubts were raised about the ability of the reinforced concrete floors and piers to carry the loads. Extensive tests were carried out, subjecting the components to extreme stress, before construction was allowed to resume in 1902, complete in 1904. [8]

Eugène Viollet-le-Duc French architect and author

Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was a French architect and author who restored many prominent medieval landmarks in France, including those which had been damaged or abandoned during the French Revolution. His major restoration projects included Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint Denis, Mont Saint-Michel, Sainte-Chapelle, and the medieval walls of the city of Carcassonne. His later writings on the relationship between form and function in architecture had a notable influence on a new generation of architects, including Antoni Gaudí, Victor Horta, and Louis Sullivan.

The church structure is based on reinforced cement piers and rib vaults, roofed in two layers of reinforced cement separated by a 4 millimetres (0.16 in) layer of slag. [12] The walls consist of two layers of brick separated by a 7 centimetres (2.8 in) air gap. The church is faced on the outside with orange brick. [13] This was the first religious building to be built from reinforced concrete in France. [14]

Methodist church, Exeter

Methodist Church in Sidwell Street, Exeter, England (behind the "Duke of York" pub) Junction of York Rd, Sidwell St and Summerland St, Exeter - - 1067546.jpg
Methodist Church in Sidwell Street, Exeter, England (behind the "Duke of York" pub)

Cottacin designed the Methodist Church in Sidwell Street, Exeter, England, built between 1902 and 1907. As with other buildings, the structure combined reinforced concrete and reinforced brick. The red brick wall is made of two 3 inches (76 mm) brick skins joined across a 20 inches (510 mm) cavity by reinforced diaphragms. [15] Each brick has four perforations. Vertical wires run through these perforations, and are interwoven with horizontal wires that run through each bed joint. [16] Inside, a gallery 13 feet (4.0 m) wide is cantilevered from three walls. The roof has an octagonal dome with 2 inches (51 mm) of reinforced concrete resting on an inner skin of reinforced brickwork. [15] A decorative lantern tower and ventilation turret tops the dome. [16] There are ornate moldings around the doors and windows that look like stone but in fact are reinforced concrete. [17]

Other structures

Tulle Theater Theatre tulle.jpg
Tulle Theater

Other structures that used his system included:

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Concrete, usually Portland cement concrete, is a composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement that hardens over time—most frequently in the past a lime-based cement binder, such as lime putty, but sometimes with other hydraulic cements, such as a calcium aluminate cement or Portland cement. It is distinguished from other, non-cementitious types of concrete all binding some form of aggregate together, including asphalt concrete with a bitumen binder, which is frequently used for road surfaces, and polymer concretes that use polymers as a binder.

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Reinforced concrete (RC) (also called reinforced cement concrete or RCC) is a composite material in which concrete's relatively low tensile strength and ductility are counteracted by the inclusion of reinforcement having higher tensile strength or ductility. The reinforcement is usually, though not necessarily, steel reinforcing bars (rebar) and is usually embedded passively in the concrete before the concrete sets. Reinforcing schemes are generally designed to resist tensile stresses in particular regions of the concrete that might cause unacceptable cracking and/or structural failure. Modern reinforced concrete can contain varied reinforcing materials made of steel, polymers or alternate composite material in conjunction with rebar or not. Reinforced concrete may also be permanently stressed, so as to improve the behaviour of the final structure under working loads. In the United States, the most common methods of doing this are known as pre-tensioning and post-tensioning.

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Alexandre Bigot was a French ceramicist. He was primarily a ceramics manufacturer; producing the designs of many artists and architects of the French Art Nouveau movement; including: Jules Lavirotte, Hector Guimard, Louis Majorelle, Henri Sauvage, Henry van de Velde, Auguste Perret, Andre Arfidson, Anatole de Baudot and more.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Wells 2010, p. 137.
  2. Lucan 2009, p. 282.
  3. 1 2 3 Delhumeau 2003, p. 148.
  4. Delhumeau 2003, p. 149.
  5. Wells 2010, p. 221.
  6. 1 2 3 Wells 2010, p. 138.
  7. Edgell, Rathbone & Roberts 1986, p. 8.
  8. 1 2 Ayers 2004, p. 260.
  9. Wells 2010, p. 137-138.
  10. Macdonald 2008, p. 32.
  11. Frampton 2012, p. 569.
  12. Ayers 2004, p. 260-261.
  13. Ayers 2004, p. 261.
  14. Hollis 2006, p. 171.
  15. 1 2 Otter 1994, p. 79.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Edgell, Rathbone & Roberts 1986, p. 9.
  17. Otter 1994, p. 80.