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The Metaphysics of Concrete

By news editor, on 27 February 2012

Professor Adrian Forty (UCL Bartlett School of Architecture) began the Lunch Hour Lecture on 21 February by capturing the audience’s attention with the startling statistic that almost three tons of concrete are produced every year per person. It is now second only to water in terms of human consumption.

Although, perhaps the obvious question would be, how is this massive amount of concrete used each year? This was not the focus of the lecture. Professor Forty, instead chose to concentrate on the less mainstream topic of the metaphysics of concrete. “As well as having physics, concrete has metaphysics,” he explained.

For the laymen (myself included) Professor Forty explained that this was basically a consideration of how we make sense of a material, which is now so present in our lives, but has been around for little more than a century.

Concrete is abundant within our world, but it seems to evoke very different opinions in different people. In Western countries, it gets the blame for ‘erasing nature’ and making everywhere look the same. Despite this antipathy from some, it remains a medium of interest to many architects and engineers.