Joe Zadeh at Noema:
Most of humanity now lives in cities made possible by concrete. The majority of buildings, from skyscrapers to social housing, are made of concrete or contain large amounts of it. Even buildings made from steel, stone, brick or timber are almost always resting on concrete foundations and are sometimes masking an unseen concrete frame. Inside, concrete is ceilings and floors. Outside, it is bridges and sidewalks, piers and parking lots, roads and tunnels and airport landing strips and subway systems. It is water pipes, sewers and storm drains. It is electricity: dams and power plants and the foundations of wind turbines. Concrete is the wall between Israel and Palestine and the Berlin Wall and most other walls. It is “almost anything,” wrote the architect Sarah Nichols in an essay this year, “almost anywhere.”
Concrete is modern, yet ancient. There’s a sense in which it was born in the bowels of volcanoes, formulated by the eruptions of the Earth.