in the period after the war, alfred hardy became widely known with his construction method for concrete mushroom constructions. he was the only belgian of whom a project was included in the 'twentieth century engineering' retrospective (1964), held at the museum of modern art in new york; namely the hangars in grimbergen. on the verge of his international breakthrough hardy lost his life in a car accident and has since fallen into oblivion.
alfred hardy was neither an architect, nor an engineer. he was merely a contractor, a 'selfmade man', who managed to acquire experience and perception simply from the daily practice of building. his projects didn't just remain drafts but were successfully executed thanks to their connection with concrete reality. although initially there were serious objections to the enormous cantilevers of his concrete mushroom principle. the fact that they are still being used today proves the contrary. with a central cylindrical support structure, his designing principle managed to take advantage of the many qualities of reinforced concrete. the roof consists of a dome and a hollow plate. the concrete of the cantilever plate is subject to radial compressive stress, whilst the tensile stress is being absorbed by a concentric armament.
the first creation to which the principle is being applied is at the same time his most famous, the two plane hangars in grimbergen (1947). beneath the cantilever, sports planes can be arranged radially and there is room for repair works centrally below the lamppost. the space is closed up by aluminum sliding doors. the sheer typological and functionally compact use compel admiration. with its radius of 25 meters (approx. 82 feet) and concrete width between 6 and 12 centimeters (approx. 2.5 - 5 inches) this also applies to the technical aspect.
after the realization of the hangars, hardy designed a whole array of application opportunities, based on the principle: blocks of flats, houses, a car park, a gas station and much much more. the possibilities seemed endless. from france, an interest was shown in these possibilities, but the execution was long in coming.
ultimately, the principle was only applied in a small number of cases, of which include his own residence (1954) and a shed in villepreux (1953). sadly, the breakthrough of it was interrupted by his tragic death in 1965.
on the 10th of september the hangars in grimbergen were awarded with a monument status.