A high-tech material for sustainable cities

29 October 2008

From November 14 to 16, Lafarge and the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées (LCPC), are inviting children and adults to the Grand Palais museum to discover or rediscover all the facets of concrete during the "European City of Science", which will mark the start of the annual "Fête de la Science" (Science Festival). A voyage to the heart of this material, to show all the possibilities offered by a mixture of water, sand, aggregates and cement, so simple in appearance, but which through research has become a high-tech material!

Welcome to the "Technological Garden of Concrete"!

The Lafarge / LCPC exhibition area (stand n°26), invites visitors to stroll through the "Technological Garden of Concrete", a guided tour divided into four parts:

  • "The nature of concrete, a liquid stone"
    This area presents the different components of concrete: local, natural resources, available in large quantity. Concrete is a living material, a fresh product that has to be consumed locally.
  • "Once upon a time...the technological history of concrete"
    The research laboratories open their doors to show the fundamental research undertaken by research specialists over the last twenty years. This has enabled innovative results that have made concrete a high-tech material.
  • "Concrete, when innovation leads to creativity"
    Far from its sad and grey image, in a few short years concrete has become a material which lends itself to all forms of architectural creativity: bridges, houses, collective buildings and even furniture, magnify concrete, which expresses itself in all shapes and colors.
  • "Concrete, an essential material in the era of sustainable development"
    At a time when increasing attention is being paid to more sustainable ways of developing the world's cities, concrete has a promising future, as a reliable and economic material that respects the environment and which plays a role in construction systems, helping to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

A sensorial experience focused on the material

Interactivity is a key feature of the Lafarge/LCPC exhibition area. To gain a better understanding of concrete, visitors are invited to:

  • handle the material via a waterproof "glove-box"
  • immerse themselves in the fluidity of concrete in a 3D space: a "shower" of unusual sensations
  • discover the thousand and one possibilities of concrete, with a ball of light concrete or an amazingly fine ampersand made of fiber-reinforced ultra-high performance concrete
  • try out the comfort of a magnificent concrete chair made for the Yves-Saint-Laurent boutique in Paris
  • find out what goes on in a concrete research laboratory, where the researchers at the stand will help visitors to understand the mysteries of the science of concrete.

Visitors, transformed into adventurers in the world of concrete, will be able to test their knowledge with a quiz, and take home a concrete sample with an autumnal flavor, made from Ductal®, Lafarge's fiber-reinforced ultra-high performance concrete.

The stand design was entrusted to Alain Moatti, architect at the Moatti et Rivière agency: "Concrete is part of our current and future environment, that scientific research is helping us to make more inhabitable. Our project lies between two worlds, like a frontier area where scientific research mingles with a certain idea of the future", he explains.

Concrete, a research material

With 10 billion m3 consumed every year, concrete is the world's most heavily consumed product, after water. In the heart of our cities, it is the only material able to respond to huge construction needs, in an era of accelerated worldwide urbanization.

Thirty years ago, concrete was the fruit of an empirical formula. Since then, Lafarge, through its Research Center near Lyons, France, the world's leading building materials research facility, and the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées, a public organization, have adopted an approach based on scientific understanding at the nanometric scale for research into cement and concrete, revealing their highly technical nature. This has made it possible to develop new concrete products. More durable, more fluid, more resistant, they also help to limit the material's impact on mankind and the environment and to respond even better to the challenges of sustainable construction, while allowing levels of architectural prowess that would have been inconceivable a few years ago.

Today, ready-mix concrete is manufactured totally on a "made-to-measure" basis, in highly automated concrete plants capable of producing up to 500 different formulas. Each formula responds to a specific application or requirement, which makes concrete a material that is able to adapt to current needs and challenges, constantly evolving. An exciting material!

About Lafarge

Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With 90,000 employees in 76 countries, Lafarge posted sales of Euros 17.6 billion and net income of Euros 1.9 billion in 2007.
Lafarge is the only company in the construction materials sector to be listed in the 2008 ‘100 Global Most Sustainable Corporations in the World'. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities, working for sustainable construction and architectural creativity.

About the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées

The Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées, a public organization in the field of scientific research, pursues its activities of research, development, consulting and expertise in the fields of mobility and infrastructure, risks, energy, city planning and territorial development. It develops knowledge in geotechnics, civil engineering structures, civil and urban engineering and the environment. These fields concern objects with a long life-span, generally of a public nature and with high safety requirements. Five of its fifteen Scientific Units carry out research into concrete. These divisions are as follows: Concrete and Cement Composites, Operation and durability of civil engineering structures, Sustainable approaches in civil engineering, Physical Chemistry of materials, and the Navier mixed research unit.

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