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The construction industry currently contributes to billions of pounds to the economy of the United Kingdom. Construction products and services play an important part in general wellbeing, in addition to generating economic benefits. This sector of activity offers significant growth opportunities, being mostly helped by the movements towards open markets.

What is certain is that the construction industry is very important to the UK and the world, for that matter. It represents the building blocks of the community. The environment that you and the rest of the world live in is a constructed one: roads, schools, houses, hospitals, and so on and so forth. Buildings continue to evolve, materials are more durable, and, last but not least, buildings increase in height and span. The history of the construction industry comprises many innovations. If you are curious to find out more about the evolution of the industry that you know today, keep on reading.

Buildings in the Middle Ages

The medieval period witnessed the birth of the first architect. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio is known in history for his work, entitled De architectura. This book has illustrations in the beginning, which were meant to clarify the descriptions. This treaty represents more than a book on buildings. It explains what architecture is and describes several topics, including but not limited to science, mathematics, geometry, and astrology. In his work, Vitruvius detailed his theory on the architectural order of pillars and shapes, not to mention that he introduced rules for the design of houses. What is worth mentioning in terms of construction are stone roofs, made with cut precision, the Roman arch, and tunnel vaults. It was possible to a universal sense of beauty, which could be applied to all structures.  

The focus on the domestic in the 18th century

Over time, individuals have perfected their construction practices and began to build more permanent structures. Advances in construction and building design took place in the 18th century. Until this point in time, there were no solutions to meet the needs of evolving architecture. Roofs were made largely of timber. Ceilings were made using lath and plaster that were attached to wooden joists. Concrete, one of the most basics construction materials, was not even used at that time. The very first person to deploy concrete was Bernard Belidor in 1750, as a description for mortar. Concrete comprises cement, water, and aggregate, besides a bonding agent. People started experimenting with concrete, being appreciated for its strength. Using concrete for building flooring was quite common in the 18th century. Concrete is still used now in the construction industry, enjoying a sort of cult status.

The British engineer John Smeaton produced the first modern concrete in 1756. What he did was to add pebbles as an aggregate, while at the same time including brick. These days, John Smeaton is regarded as a professional inventor. Back in those days, he may have been considered a little bit absurd. Thanks to his winning formula, it was possible to build the Eddystone Lighthouse. This lighthouse is renowned for its influence on architecture design and the importance in the development of concrete for building use. Megatons of concrete were used in roads and infrastructure. The 18th century was marked by increased road-building activity. The Brits came up with the idea of the Infrastructure state. The roads, unsophisticated as they were, were transformed into a network of highways, connecting every village in the nation. The United Kingdom is still capable of delivering good infrastructure. Building in the 1700s is closely linked to economic and political development.  

The styles of the 18th century

Baroque architecture, in spite of the fact that it enjoyed a great deal of popularity in Europe, has a short appearance in Britain. A new style was required for the new age and the ruling class, that is the Whigs, wanted to lay the foundation of a civilization that was comparable to that of ancient Rome. The buildings of the ancient times served as models for architects. A few examples from the era are:

  • Blenheim Palace: This popular tourist attraction was constructed in the early 18th century, being a gift to Winston Churchill. His family started living there in 1705. The expenses were covered by the state, but that is not what is important. What matters is the fact that this luxurious building is an epitome of Baroque architecture and it is representative for the 1700s.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral: The building was partly destroyed in the Great Fire, which is the reason why is it frequently called Old Paul’s Cathedral. The dome is the largest one in the world and it used to be the tallest structure until the 1960s. The iconic building is a mixture of English medieval cathedrals and the classical style.
  • Chatsworth House: The construction of the building began in 1553, yet it was immediately demolished. The development of the mansion that you know today started in 1687 and was finalized later on. Chatsworth House is an amazing work in terms of architecture, featuring impressive stonework, wood paneling, tapestries, and flooring.

How are buildings built in the 21st century?

Construction is a vast and complex industry. Along with recording astonishing growth, this sector generates a significant share of activities that have not been affected by Brexit. If you take the time to look beyond the walls of the surroundings, you will see that construction is essential for the nation, ensuring affordable housing, supporting economic growth, and contributing to carbon emission reduction. In order to complete projects, workers are resorting to selective materials and equipment. The demand for infrastructure and industrial activity keeps on increasing, so there is no reason to worry that things will slow down any time soon. The United Kingdom is home to some of the most breath-taking modern architecture pieces. There are many incredible buildings to see there, including the Gherkin. The Brits are lucky to have architectural styles from all periods, especially from the 18th century. To sum up, the history of the construction industry in the United Kingdom is basically a history of the way in which the world is constructed around people.