The history of precast concrete
Working on large-scale construction projects is very complicated, even for the oldest contractors, designers and planners. As simple as choosing between precast concrete and cast concrete may be a major decision.
In general, learning more about the development of materials or construction methods can provide you with the information you need to make more informed decisions.
At Metromont, we believe precast concrete solutions are often the best choice for a given job - whether financially or sustainably. However, precast concrete is not always a “going” solution, and it has only recently been adopted in large-scale commercial projects.
Today, let us walk a little along the memory line to see how far the prefabrication has been.
Precast concrete is as long as the concrete itself. Around 1300 BC, builders in the Middle East discovered how to use limestone, the predecessor of modern cement, to cover their clay houses to produce hard, cement-like paint.
Centuries later, the Romans began mixing crushed limestone and other soft rocks with sand and water to form early concrete. Pouring concrete into a mold or wooden form helps to form intricate aqueduct systems and catacombs for precision measurement and construction durability.
Despite the bad weather or other environmental problems, it was impossible to precast the concrete and immediately install multiple floors. It was impossible for the ancient Romans to build a large underground tunnel that still exists today.
In this regard, the earliest version of precast concrete helps to stimulate the expansion of many large cities in Europe and Asia. This is also a proof of the really durable concrete as a building structure.
Let us fast forward to today.
Precast concrete today
Despite these early uses, it was not until the early 20th century that precast concrete became widespread or popular in most of Western Europe and North America.
Just before the First World War, the British city engineer (and football net inventor) John Alexander Brody patented the construction of a prefabricated panel building, what was the architectural innovation at the time.
He eventually paved the way for future architectural innovation.
On June 18, 1954, the Precast Concrete Research Institute was established as a technical exploration committee for all information and practice related to prefabricated/prestressed concrete. Since its establishment, PCI has developed, maintained and disseminated knowledge of the prefabricated and prestressed concrete structure industry, thus creating and maintaining many industry standards.
Today, prefabrication is widely used for the construction of superstructures or frames of buildings. Due to its versatility in shape, texture and color, it is often used as a building facade to mimic the appearance of more expensive materials such as limestone, granite or stone. But perhaps the greatest benefit of precast concrete is that it can be used as both a structural and architectural element, providing a complete precast concrete building.