chapter  Seven
16 Pages

Precast

WithSimon Henley

The Second World War split Europe, and much of the world, in two. In the West, there was a political consensus in favour of social democracy – especially in Europe, where governments actively promoted a form of command economy and invested in the modernisation of the state, the redistribution of wealth, the creation of opportunity and the reconstruction of their towns and cities. The postwar period thus brought with it an enthusiasm for standardisation. Numerous blocks of flats, housing estates, schools, universities and hospitals testify to this process of industrialisation. Most precast components are produced in a factory. Many buildings of the 1950s and ‘60s were quite literally manufactured by the contractor, who set up a plant on site. Precasting offered huge potential for the ornamentation of construction and the elaboration of the elevation. Minerals and Physical Metallurgy Laboratory building for Birmingham University was tough.