Falkirk Wheel, Scotland
The Falkirk Wheel was once thought to be an impossible idea to reconnect the Forth and Clyde and Union Canal between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The wheel is part of a reinforced concrete aqueduct and the structure is sometimes referred to as loosely designed around the ribcage of a whale. The system works by using a boat lift and channel of water to set the boats onto their new path.
Possibly c126 AD
The ancient Romans were pioneers and used concrete architecture to create many amazing buildings that have lasted hundreds or even thousands of years. Of course, the ancient Romans didn’t have access to reinforced concrete strengthened with steel, but they did use a form of concrete.
Los Manantiales Restaurant, Mexico City
Félix Candela, 1958
The Los Manantiales Restaurant roof gives a sense of lightness from the relatively thin curves that make up the structure. It was designed efficiently and provide show-stopping architectural innovation. The iconic arches are present all the way around, meeting in the middle above lucky diners. The arches and curves look kind of like a perfectly designed shell, with the concrete lips never touching the earth.
MuCEM, Marseille, France
Rudy Ricciotti, 2013
Built on an abandoned port, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations incorporates taking advantage of the amazing sea views with an artistic exoskeleton made from fiber-reinforced ultra-high-performance concrete! The inner museum is dappled with natural light and is a piece of art on its own. The upper layers provide visitors with the opportunity to sit down and observe the sweeping views of sun and sea. A concrete ramp connects the museum to the neighbouring Fort St-Jean.
A Variety of Concrete Dams
There is a huge number of spectacular dams worldwide that use reinforced concrete as their main building material. There are four main shapes, adapting for the strength and function needed. The arch dam is one of the most elegant and important engineering structures.
These are curved so that the arch faces the water which works because concrete is a very strong material when compressed or pushed, but not when it is stretched. Dams are hugely important in modern society because they store water that will be needed in the future and raise the level of water upstream when needed. They are also key in creating hydropower.