WIT Press

The Impossibility Of Linear Reading The Evolution Of Reinforced Concrete: The Case Of Spain (1896–1973)


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41 - 49




388 kb


M. Sagarna, L. Etxepare Igiñiz, I. Lizundia, E. Uranga


The evolution of the quality of an artificial material in subsequent periods should not present setbacks. Technological development and monitoring the execution should ensure a favourable outcome in quality. However, socioeconomic and political forces can distort the course of this evolution, making it impossible for a linear reading; serving as an example of this is the history of reinforced concrete in Spain. The material was introduced to Spain about 120 years ago from European patents. After the war, and after several glorious decades, came the decline of these patents with the consequent liberalization of the technology and the publication in 1939 of Instruction for Concrete. This liberalization came into effect in a context of scarcity and high cost of construction materials, so that the concrete used in the reconstruction of the cities turned out to be a very poor material. Various decrees and orders published at this time established a number of limitations in the use of iron and cement, both depleting the quality of the material used, and as a result, developing a black market, further adding to the decline in quality. Later in the 60s, overcoming these constraints, the quality of materials began to improve. In 1973, a new regulation on the use of concrete introduced a section on quality control. Thereafter, the increasing control ensured the proven quality of the material and its continuous improvement to the present day. A series of tests conducted in buildings made of reinforced concrete in the Basque Country during the twentieth century, shows that the strength and quality of concrete from 100 years ago can be much better than of concrete from 60 years ago, attesting to the inability to perform a linear reading of its evolution.


concrete, history, quality, patents, regulations, restrictions