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senior research associate, Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University

The greatest innovation in the history of building and construction has to be the invention of concrete, which is now the second most used resource in the world (after water, but I guess that’s also pretty important!). Even though the Egyptians, in around 2500 BC, and the Romans, from 300 BC, used early types of ‘pozzolanic’ cements, it was the development and patenting of Portland cement in 1824 that enabled the concrete revolution to take place and for us to build structures bigger, longer and taller (and relatively cheaper) than ever before.

The introduction of reinforcement to the concrete in the latter part of the nineteenth century enabled even stronger, longer and more robust spans and structures to be built and developments continue today with new and exciting types of concrete such as self-compacting, lightweight, ultra-high strength, and even light-transmitting concrete.