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The history of reinforced concrete

21-09-2014 | J. van Wijngaarden

Around 1845 the French gardener Joseph-Louis Lambot pioneered flower boxes of cement with iron wire. Fer ciment (cement iron) was the name of this invention. Long before this time the advantages of concrete were already known, but their reinforcement was unknown.

The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans applied concrete in bridges and aqueducts. During the construction of the Colosseum in Rome, the Romans also used concrete. Lime or trass (finely ground volcanic tuff) was used as a binder.

After being forgotten for a long time, concrete returned to the building process in 1824 with the invention of the Portland cement.

In the middle of the nineteenth century florist Joseph Monier further experimented with the application of the Fer ciment (cement iron). Beton armé ( reinforced concrete ) was the name of the patent, which he applied for in 1868 for his invention. Monier applied his invention especially in water basins and pipes. In 1875 the first reinforced concrete bridge in the world was built on an estate near Chazelet (France).

The brothers Picha bought this patent for Belgium in 1880 and started a cement iron factory in Ghent. Via Zeeuws-Vlaanderen reinforced concrete came to the Netherlands, this because the brothers Picha married daughters of the Steven family from Sas van Gent. In 1888 a branch was founded in Sas van Gent by the Picha brothers.

During the Zeeland Industry Exhibition in Middelburg, the company showed roof plates, wells and a concrete rowing boat, called De Zeemeeuw (The Seagull). Shortly after this exhibition the cooperation between the Picha brothers  and the Amsterdam based company Maatschappij tot Houtbereiding tegen Bederf startes. In July 1890 this led to the establishment of the Amsterdam Factory of Cement Iron Works (System Monier).

The first larger bridge of reinforced concrete in the Netherlands is the Schollenbrug in Amsterdam (1900), built by the Amsterdam Factory of Cement ironworks. Since the beginning of the last century, reinforcing steel has become an indispensable material for contemporary construction.

Source: Hans Schipper, BUILDS IN CONCRETE !, Introduction and acceptance of reinforced concrete in the Netherlands (1890-1940).

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