The bridge between technology and design: When it comes to a successful integration of two disciplines that are usually treated as separate, Munich-based building technology expert Klaus Daniels can look back on several decades of experience. His projects illustrate how architecture and engineering can work hand in hand, based as they are on an approach in which building services are seen neither as a catalyst for an “overall idea of the building” nor as mere aids to the architectural design. The projects presented in this volume have set international standards in the architecture and technology debate.
As I read Professor Hammann’s impressive and painstakingly documented work, I was reminded of a saying I have often heard quoted by athletic coaches and motivational speakers: “There are those who make things happen; those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.” Clearly, distinguished engineer Klaus Daniels, whose professional philosophy and impressive career form the core of this book, falls into the first category.In fact, Daniels’s work serves as a sort of condensed history of the evolution of forward-thinking mechanical engineering, especially in Germany, since the seminal 1972 report by the Club of Rome, ‘Limits to Growth.’ Daniels, like many other visionary and concerned leaders, was deeply influenced by the report, which predicted, among other events, a coming energy crisis, increasing impact of climate change, developing shortages of water resources, and worsening global nutrition shortfalls. The report’s sobering conclusions are fairly summarized by Hammann: “… limited global natural resources are incompatible with continuous population growth, the growing affluence of that population, and their increasing demands on standards of living.” Hammann’s book opens with a quick yet comprehensive survey of the political and ecological realities that gave rise to the imperative for sustainability that guided Daniels’s work. Interestingly, Hammann points out that much of the initial impetus toward more sustainable practices in industry came from the rapidly rising cost of traditional energy sources, rather than a specific push for “green” practices. Indeed, the topic of cooperation and collaboration – as opposed to the guarding of fiefdoms and professional jealousy – between architect and engineer runs throughout the book and is especially evident when Hammann turns to a discussion of Daniels’s academic pursuits as Chair of Technology in the Department of Architecture at the Swiss Federal Technology Institute. Throughout Creative Engineering, Hammann includes an abundance of figures, illustrations, and technical data to document not only the outcomes of Daniels’s work, but also the viability of the conclusions drawn from those outcomes. He further provides needed cautions about the use and misuse of the term “sustainability,” suggesting that the word is often used to identify practices that fall far short of what is needed to maintain the Earth as a viable habitat for future generations. In sum, Ralph E. Hammann’s Creative Engineering is not only a tribute to a visionary, innovative, and influential engineer; it is also a survey, a warning, and a plan of action. Anyone who is interested in answers to the thorny questions of sustainability that plague both developing and developed nations will find cause for both concern and hope while reading this meticulously researched book. - Thom Lemmons (Managing Editor, Texas A&M University Press)