IMPROVING DURABILITY BY ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
Many surviving traditional structures have mellowed with age and remain serviceable as a tribute to their builders’ understanding of the materials and their owners’ prudent maintenance. The record of durability of reinforced concrete structures inspires less confidence. The mistakes of our forefathers fell down long ago and have been forgotten, but from them the classic traditional styles of masonry, brick and timber construction developed which gave long, useful lives with only simple maintenance. The rapid development of concrete during the twentieth century has coincided with the fragmentation of education in the professions, resulting in a failure to appreciate the characteristics of the material that relate to overall durability rather than just strength. The product of this lack of understanding has been ugly structures, suffering from premature staining, cracking and spalling, marring the reputation of reinforced concrete.