Thinking about the future

What will be the main reason for using concretes in the future: their applicability or durability? What cements will we build from, and how should we choose them? A house of the 21st century is “concrete in unity with nature” – such questions and such challenges were posed by the participants to Dni Betonu conference, which took place on October 8-10 in Szczyrk. ‘The entire conference aimed in one direction: how to estimate the present product – concrete – in the future so that its lifecycle could be unlimited. Future, future, and once again future, this is what we all think about,’ said Andrzej Ptak, the President of the Polish Cement and Lime Association.

The Dni Betonu conference, organized by POLSKI CEMENT and the Polish Cement and Lime Association, was participated by almost 350 persons. The participants came from many countries. Apart from Polish scientists dealing with concrete, the conference was participated by the guests from Canada, Ukraine, the USA, Belgium, Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. The conference took place in the picturesquely situated Klimczok Hotel in Szczyrk between 8 and 10 October. About 80 lectures were submitted for the conference organized under the name of DNI BETONU. TRADYCJA I NOWOCZESNOŚĆ (Days of Concrete – tradition and modernity), yet the organizers decided to accept 67 of them. All lectures submitted were included in the book entitled Dni betonu. Tradycja i nowoczesność (Days of Concrete – tradition and modernity) and on the specially prepared CD with conference materials. The programme was divided into ten sessions. ‘The conference was organized in a very modern way. Each session was assigned a coordinator in charge of lecture selection,’ said Prof. Andrzej Ajdukiewicz. Apart from him, the coordinators included: Prof. Wiesław Kurdowski, Prof. Lech Czarnecki, Prof. Janusz Szwabowski, Prof. Wojciech Radomski, Prof. Jacek Śliwiński, Prof. Jan Małolepszy and engineer architect Ryszard Jurkowski, MA. On the first and the last day, sessions took place in the main conference hall. On the second day, sessions were divided into two rooms, where presentations took place simultaneously: in the audiovisual hall and the Spring Hall.

Renaissance of concrete technology
‘If we trace progress in the technology of concrete worldwide in the last 25 years, and in Poland during the last decade, it can be easily stated that new generation concretes have dominated the research and publications. They have made many scientists worldwide deal with this issue,’ said Prof. Andrzej Ajdukiewicz, coordinator of Session I “New Generation Concretes”. ‘This period is a great renaissance of concrete technology, great renaissance of material studies, which has stimulated the development of concrete structures of both reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete. Therefore, during the session I chaired we mainly talked about high-performance concretes. Session I was opened by the lecture by Professor Pierre-Claude Aitcin (Universite de Sherbrook, Canada) entitled “Durable high-performance concrete – the art and the knowledge”.’ ‘At the turn of the 21st century it will not be hard to predict that application of high-performance concrete will increase in order to prolong the usable lifespan of concrete structures exposed to difficult weather conditions. Another reason for this is high interest of the society with ecology,’ said Professor Aitcin. Professor Jan Olek (USA) presented the lecture “High-Performance Concretes – an overview of technological experiences from the USA”.

Concrete: a modern and economical material
Session II was devoted to ready mixed concrete. The session was opened by the lecture by Prof. Francesco Biasioli (University in Turin, Italy, secretary general of ERMCO – European Ready Mixed Concrete Organization) entitled “Ready Mixed Concrete – a new image of the old material meeting the demands of the 21st century”. ‘The fact that concrete industry is prepared to take all effort to keep concrete considered as an optimal building material, and the ready mixed concrete as the best way for its delivery, leaves no way for doubt. In such conditions, recognition of the significant role of ERMCO and increasing the group of its members will help to improve the public image of the ready mixed concrete production and the competitiveness of our product. The organization supports and will keep supporting activities for the benefit of the ready mixed concrete, so that it remains the most modern and economic building material for the purposes of construction industry in the 21st century,’ said Prof. Biasioli.

Light as concrete
Authors of all the lectures presented searched for the ways to improve durability of concrete, and therefore to increase the effectiveness of structures of concrete and reinforced concrete. All lectures in Session III referred to “Durability of Concrete”, and in Session IV – “Concrete in architecture”. Prof. Dariusz Kozłowski presented a lecture entitled “Archaeology of ideas and forms – intentional concrete of Louis Kahn”. ‘In his realized and intentional work, light is treated as an architectural building agent, similarly as building material – concrete. Kahn’s concrete, with perfect texture and colour, works well with natural stone,’ said Prof. Kozłowski.

Other Sessions had the following topics:
Session V – “Properties of concrete”
Session VI – “Concrete in utilities infrastructure”
Session VII – “New technologies of performing concrete structures”
Session VIII – “Small concrete elements”
Session IX – “Concrete in transport-related construction industry”
Session X – Conclusion of the conference.

Messages, questions, challenges
The last lecture entitled “Technology of concrete in education and professional activities of a construction engineer” was prepared by Professors: Kazimierz Furtak, Jacek Śliwiński and Janusz Szwabowski. At the background of the general profile of a graduate of a construction department, the authors presented the needs of a contemporary engineer as concerns the knowledge on engineering and technology of cement-based concretes.

‘The subject “technology of concrete” is usually taught at the second year of studies, directly after “building materials”. The very succession of these subjects does not raise any objections. The teaching of the technology of concrete as a whole, however, raises some objections as it comes long before classes in construction subjects, such as: structures of reinforced concrete, prestressed structures, bridge construction, or industrial construction. This does not encourage the listener to associate concrete with a material subject to a very complex system of various forces and loads: mechanical, thermal, and chemical,’ claim the authors. They also sketched the desired changes in education to implement in the curriculum. According to the authors, the discussion of the role and the most favourable course of education concerning concrete should be taken by the society, and should become one of the fields of the Section on Building Materials and Section of Concrete Structures of the Committee on Civil Engineering and Hydroengineering of the Polish Academy of Sciences. During the plenary session chaired by Prof. Lech Czarnecki, main conclusions of the conference were formulated, as well as questions and controversies, and the challenges. ‘The conclusion of our conference is a very modern solution,’ said Prof. Czarnecki.
‘I believe that the idea of organizing a conference, which originated four years ago, is a good idea. Therefore I am glad to announce that the next DNI BETONU conference will take place on October 13-15, 2004,’concluded Andrzej Ptak, the President of Polish Cement and Lime Association.