History of construction – a backdrop for the innovations of the past century

The history of building is marked by a number of trends. One is the increasing durability of the materials used. Early building materials were perishable, such as leaves, branches, and animal hides.

Later, more durable natural materials such as clay, stone, and timber, and, finally, synthetic materials, such as brick, concrete, metals, and plastics were used.

Another is a quest for buildings of ever greater height and span; this was made possible by the development of stronger materials and by knowledge of how materials behave and how to exploit them to greater advantage.

A third major trend involves the degree of control exercised over the interior environment of buildings: increasingly precise regulation of air temperature, light and sound levels, humidity, odors, air speed, and other factors that affect human comfort has been possible.

Yet another trend is the change in energy available to the construction process, starting with human muscle power and developing toward the powerful machinery used today.

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