We love concrete.
Concrete is a fascinating material that is used in a wide variety of applications around the world – from paving stones or concrete pipes to high-tech engineering structures. What is less well known is that the material was already used in its original form – lime mortar – over 12,000 years ago. From this concrete mixture, the Romans later developed Opus caementitium, consisting of burnt lime, water and sand mixed with volcanic ash, and used it for building, inter alia, the dome of the Pantheon in Rome – which, with its 43-metre diameter, is still preserved today.
Since the 19th century, tamped concrete has increasingly been used – a mixture of gravel, sand, cement and water compacted by tamping, which can be produced in virtually any shape desired using appropriate formworks. Major constructions of tamped concrete include the bridge over the River Murg in the northern Black Forest, built in 1885, and the two upper bridges over the River Iller in Kempten.
Nowadays, concrete is predominantly used in the form of reinforced concrete or prestressed concrete. The combination of modern high-performance concrete with tension-proofed reinforcement made of reinforcing steel or prestressing steel thereby ensures maximum flexibility and the production of tensile-loaded construction components. The new technology enables a freer use of the building material and has thus also played a decisive role in furthering the advance of architectural modernism since the 1920s.
Reinforced concrete is now the most important building material in Germany, with well over 100 million cubic metres being used in construction each year. It is used for making all kinds of construction components and is, after water, the most commonly used building material worldwide.