Any man worth his salt should know the difference between cement, concrete, and mortar. I am not that man. They’re all just gray sludge to me. But This Old House explains the difference between the three in a very easy to understand way.
The most popular artificial material on Earth isn’t steel, plastic, or aluminum — it’s concrete. Thousands of years ago, we used it to build civilizations, but then our knowledge of how to make it was lost. Here’s how we discovered concrete, forgot it, and then finally cracked the mystery of what makes it so strong.
In modern cities, there’s concrete at every turn. So it might surprise you to hear that, until now at least, we haven’t really understood how it works at the microscopic level—despite the fact that we trust it to build huge structures.
If we want to someday live on Mars, spaceships won’t be enough. We would need a Martian city—and this is how we might build one.
A new kind of concrete from the UK building materials company Tarmac instantly soaks up gallons and gallons of H20–simultaneously preventing flood conditions while also conserving water by cycling it directly back into the ground.
I’m going to put this as gently as possible: 3D printing entire buildings, right down to the fixtures, doesn’t make a ton of sense yet.
In 1982, the ground beneath the historic port city of Pozzuoli began to rise like a cake in the oven. Within two years, the swell had exceeded 6 feet. Then the earth started shaking—first, a swarm of microquakes. When the first magnitude 4 quake hit, Pozzuoli became a ghost town overnight.
Fashioning beautiful weapons from found objects is always so fascinating to see. How does a person look at a chunk of concrete and see an elaborately detailed knife handle? How can we turn a piece of a shovel into a really sharp knife? Watch John Heisz work his magic below. There are a lot of satisfying noises that…
It’s hard to find a more polarizing architecture—even among scholars it’s most likely to be described as “ugly,” “unloved,” or even “hated.” I’m talking about Brutalism, the blocky unfinished concrete style which used to be very common in cities around the world, but is now being demolished at an astounding rate.
This enormous, cathedral-like building is the main water tank of the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel facility in Kasukabe City, 19 miles north of Tokyo, Japan, which is one of the most famous water infrastructure complex in the world, and also the world’s largest underground flood diversion…
Concrete is an amazing building material: cheap to create, strong when used correctly, and hard-wearing, too. But turning it into exotic and shapely forms can be prohibitively complex and expensive. Now, a 3D printer capable of producing one-off moulds as large as a phone booth could help turn architectural dreamw…
Bill Gates has an incredible statistic: According the USGS' cement statistics, China has used more concrete from 2011 to 2013 (6.6 gigatons) than the United States in the entire 20th century (4.5 gigatons). It blows my mind but, then again, as Gates point out, look at Shanghai's evolution in just 20 years...
Watch this high-density polyurethane foam raise concrete slabs thanks to the magic of physics. The foam, called PolyLEVEL, is applied through a hole drilled in the concrete, expanding under the concrete and pushing it up.
When the Miami's Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science opens in 2016, it's going to have an absolutely bonkers aquarium—imagine a giant camera lens, tilted on its side, that lets visitors walk below the tank and look up into it. Building it, as you might expect, entailed a feat of perfectly-timed engineering.
If you've ever wondered why the ancient structures of Rome have endured for millennia, when our own modern concrete is susceptible to cracks and crumbles, well, now you have your answer. Researchers recreated the Roman recipe and discovered that the formation of a certain kind of crystal in the concrete is the reason…
Our modern world is literally built on concrete. This cheap, strong material is everywhere—skyscrapers, bridges, highways, tunnels—and it's hard to imagine what our cities would look like without it. But concrete has a weak spot, and climate change could make it even worse.
Sand–humble, measly, regular old sand—is a hot commodity these days. As construction booms in Asia and the Middle East gulp up billions of tons of sand each year, beaches thousands of miles away are getting robbed and turned into rocky, pockmarked versions of their former selves.
If you didn't know know better, you'd think the Refugi Liepthaus in the Alps was just another quaint log cabin from afar. But if you get close, you'll realize that those ridges on the walls are not logs but a beautiful brutalist exterior. It's awesome.
A new water-repellant concrete impregnated with tiny superstrong fibers promises to leave roads and bridges free of major cracks for up to 120 years.
Concrete pipes never looked so inviting. At the Prahran Hotel, a pub in Australia, stacks of pre-cast concrete tubes have been turned into cozy, wood-paneled booths for sharing a pint or two. From the outside, they look like kegs (get it?) or portholes—in any case, nothing remotely as dystopian as the phrase "concrete…