We usually think of concrete as a distinctly modern building material, but it’s been around for centuries. Concrete – Victorian style. Today, on Engineering Works!
When we see concrete today, it’s usually part of a bridge, a dam or a big public building. Structures that depend on concrete’s strength and durability. In fact, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building, is built largely of concrete. But engineers have used concrete since at least ancient Roman times, and some of their concrete buildings are still around today.
The Pantheon in Rome, built by Marcus Agrippa in 126 AD, is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in existence. Oddly, after the Roman Empire collapsed, builders used concrete very seldom until it was – rediscovered – in the mid-1700s.
By the later 1800s, engineers and architects were trying concrete in all sorts of buildings. Clonalis House, in County Roscommon in Ireland, is the first so-called mass concrete structure in Ireland. This means the concrete was poured on-site. The mansion has 45 rooms and cost 10,000 British pounds sterling when it was built in 1878 by the O’Conor Don family. The owners, descendants of the last high kings of Ireland, live in it today. A bit of trivia for music lovers: a harp said to have been owned by the Irish harpist O’Carolan is on display in the library.
Our house isn’t made of concrete, but that’s where we’re going when we’re done. See you next time.
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Start the discussion: So many things we think of as modern ideas – like concrete – have been around for a long time and used for unusual things. What other pieces of modern technology got their start a long time ago? Must be lots. Let us know if you think of any.