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PRESENTER: Every time you're in your own home, out shopping or making the journey to and from work, you're surrounded by that most familiar of all materials: concrete. It's what our houses, bridges, schools, town centre and offices have been made from for more than a hundred years. Yet, in Britain, it's the building material that's the most reviled. Generally any mention of concrete will conjure up images of ugly, run-down inner cities. But now it appears a renaissance is on the cards for this versatile material. Malcolm Fisher, of the British Concrete Association, is here to tell us all about concrete's comeback.
MALCOLM: In the space of thirty years, concrete has evolved from one of the most despised building materials to the coolest around. This is because the future of the construction industry will be largely influenced by the need to conserve the Earth's resources, be they materials, land or energy. The need for more office space and housing in our already overcrowded cities will lead to more sky-scraping tower blocks, hence the need for a durable and versatile material like concrete. Although in a hundred years from now we will be using a family of new materials, including a ceramic form of concrete, any constructions this century will certainly be made of conventional concrete - and they won't be the only things. Concrete will be used to make everything from toothbrushes to aeroplanes. Already Russian submarine designers are turning away from traditional materials m favour of concrete - the principle being that, because concrete becomes stronger under high pressure, vessels built with it will be able to plunge to greater depths. Concrete that conducts electricity might also change the way we heat our homes and offices. By replacing one of the usual ingredients of concrete with a mixture of semi-conductive materials, a British inventor has found a way to dramatically improve its ability to conduct electricity. The concrete can then be used to provide domestic heating, as it heats up when electricity is passed through it. Doorsteps, driveways, and even runways and bridges that de-ice themselves in cold weather are other potential uses. The thermal properties of concrete can also be used to achieve the reverse effect and cool offices by allowing the fabric of the building lo store heat and release it at night. Office blocks are currently being designed without air-conditioning in favour of this new method. With good design, detailing materials and the proper curing time, these buildings could last up to two thousand years. Over the last century, architects, builders and scientists have learnt a great deal about the pitfalls of structural weakness and poor aesthetics. Whether concrete is used to repair old structures or create new ones, it's the one building material that will truly shape the foundations of our society well into this third millennium. Far from being Countess Spencer's "monstrous carbuncles of concrete", the cities of the future will show concrete in all its beauty.
The presenter claims that in Britain concrete is associated with
Malcolm says that while, in the
past, concrete was a
material, it is in demand
Concrete's renewed popularity is a
result of a necessity to maintain the level of the
High buildings will necessitate the
substances such as concrete.
In the future, not only buildings,
could be made of some form
Concrete can be used for heating if
it can be made to
mean it can also be used to
lower temperatures in a building.
If properly built, the buildings of the future could stand
for as long as
Whatever it is used for, concrete is likely to have a far-reaching
effect, on life in the third
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