A Feat of Engineering

I was watching a TV series about feats of super engineering. The earlier episodes had featured world famous bridges, globally acclaimed tall buildings and ports built on turbulent coastlines.

I had missed the first few minutes of this particular episode but thought that I could easily get the gist of what I had missed, so I kept watching. The narrator was talking to the designer about the initial brief given to their design firm:


The Design

  • Must look modern and should overcome the flaws identified in the competitors’ models
  • Alternative designs should be submitted to include the various needs and processes (stages) of life
  • Should be able to function independently or as part of a set, for ordinary days and special occasions
  • Should have optimum functionality in varied weather conditions
  • Low maintenance of the structure is essential.


The Structure

  • Any structural engineering including wires, cables, hooks, elastic, buckles, inserts and loops should not be visible as far as possible
  • Excellent load bearing capacity and tensile strength essential
  • Required to fit unknown, unseen shapes in motion
  • Comfort should be given the utmost importance.


The Materials:

  • Light and attractive as possible
  • Soft and breathable yet strong enough to withstand the stress of the structure including but not limited to metal wires, buckles, elastic, inserts, hooks, cables, loops etc.
  • Cost should not be prohibitive.

This brief seemed to be for a much harder task than building a bridge or a port. It must be something completely different but so far, the program had showcased structures that had to be built- bridges, buildings, ports etc. I wondered what this episode was about…

The design brief seemed to allude towards many things- light material maybe something to do with a plane or a space rocket; comfortable  – maybe a harness, a parachute, paragliding maybe? Breathable yet strong enough to withstand the stress of the structure- yacht? Sailboat? Attractive material? …. Perhaps eye-catching like fluorescent or high visibility for quick rescue operations.

Low cost- an economical version of something conventionally associated with an astronomical cost? Structural engineering should not be visible as far as possible? Load bearing capacity and tensile strength? Optimum functionality and low maintenance aspects that turned the discussion to gravity!

Should fit unknown, unseen shapes in motion?! How on earth could anyone design anything like that! What was this? I was getting more and more lost and confused by this discussion.

It was making no sense! So I looked through the TV guide listing and there it was …..

Feats of Super Engineering: Building a Bra