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[2008-01-23]
History of Construction
 
Man has constructed buildings and other structures since prehistory. The technology and economy of construction work has changed throughout history.

The first bridges made by humans were probably wooden logs placed across a stream. The first buildings were simple huts, tents and wind shelters, built by their inhabitants. As cities formed, division of labor and professional crafts like masonry, metalworking and woodworking emerged. Governments began to regulate construction in efforts of urban planning. Simple machines like levers and pulleys came into use, as well as nails. Arches, vaults and domes were used to create spans. In ancient Rome, concrete was invented. Occasionally, slaves were used as workforce, but not as often as depicted in popular culture (for instance Egyptian pyramids were built by free men).

In the Middle Ages of Europe fortifications, castles and cathedrals were the greatest construction projects, Craftsmen became organized in guilds. The pile driver was invented around 1500.

The industrial revolution was manifested in new kinds of transportation installations, such as railways, canals and macadam roads. These required large amounts of investment. New construction devices included steam engines, machine tools, explosives and optical surveying.

As steel was mass-produced from the mid-19th century, it was used, in form of I-beams and reinforced concrete. Glass panes also went into mass production, and changed from luxury to every man’s property.

Plumbing appeared, and gave common access to drinking water and sewage collection.

With the second industrial revolution in the early 20th century, elevators and cranes made high rise buildings and skyscrapers possible, while engineering vehicles and power tools decreased the workforce needed. Other new technologies were prefabrication and computer-aided design.

Trade unions were formed to protect construction workers’ interests. Personal protective equipment such as hard hats and earmuffs also came into use.

From the 20th century, governmental construction projects were used as part of macroeconomic stimulation policies, especially during the Great depression.

In the end of the 20th century, ecology, energy conservation and sustainable development have become more important issue of construction.
 
 
 
 
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