Concrete has a long and illustrious history. Some concrete structures built centuries ago retain their integrity to this very day. In fact, concrete is still the No. 1 building material in all the world. But when was precast concrete invented?
According to some estimates, concrete is used twice as often as every other building material combined (based on tonnage produced). Concrete is so ubiquitous that we hardly notice its presence anymore, whether we’re traversing the concourse of a gigantic sports stadium or the roadway supported by the pillars of a river-spanning bridge.
Concrete is all around us — and beneath us, too! In fact, Rogue Valley Precast concrete makes up a significant amount of our region’s buried infrastructure. With products ranging from septic tanks, sewer pipes, catch basins, and parking curbs, precast concrete represents a near-limitless resource for utilities, municipalities, and construction companies.
But back to the topic at hand: When was precast concrete invented?
The Invention of Precast Concrete
Historians tend to agree that precast concrete was first utilized in massive public works projects throughout Ancient Rome. These included aqueducts and tunnels. The Romans knew that precast concrete afforded builders with something that had theretofore been missing: the ability to create the same concrete piece over and over.
Precast concrete made it possible for builders to work with materials of consistent density and dimensions. The precast concrete process itself makes this consistency possible.
In addition to the ancient Romans, many Greek builders were well aware of the benefits of precast concrete form. They designed and built structures to move massive amounts of water or to host massive numbers of people (e.g., for sporting events, plays, courts, etc.).
And as we’ve mentioned, many of these structures remain not only standing but in use!
Long after the fall of the Roman Empire, precast concrete purveyors continued to make their products even more structurally sound. In the 1800s, the emergence of steel-reinforced concrete made concrete even sturdier.
British civil engineer John Alexander Brodie encouraged the construction of housing using precast reinforced concrete. Brodie and other city engineers were well aware of the ease and wide availability of precast products made from concrete.
And while history has shown that other materials are often more fashionable — stone, marble, steel — builders return to concrete again and again for its durability, customizability, and affordability.
A true precast concrete construction renaissance began in the early 20th century. It continues to grow today. Through the years, advancements in production processes and technologies made it possible for precast concrete to be used in a wider variety of structures.
The rest is history!
Modern Precast Concrete
Today, you can see cured precast concrete forms in everything from fireplaces, building foundations, and bridges. As we’ve seen — and as millions of visitors to Rome can attest — concrete lasts for centuries. That makes it an ideal material for builders seeking durability and budget-conscious partnerships.
An additional benefit: Concrete comes from raw, natural products. It’s a sustainable material and can be used regardless of climate, geography, or environment. Wet climates, extreme heat, and other environmental stressors are no match for precast concrete.
A wide range of construction projects features precast concrete products. Many new constructions feature precast concrete paneled buildings. In fact, precast paneled buildings, including office buildings made with precast, prestressed concrete and structural steel, remain popular forms.
Questions about the precast concrete industry? Get in touch with the experts at Rogue Valley Precast today.