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Issue 2(66)/2021, p. 39-50

doi: 10.37190/arc210204

Wessel de Jonge

Concrete heritage in the Netherlands. Valuation and conservation of concrete and reinforced concrete structures


   The article deals with reinforced concrete structures in the Netherlands in the interwar period. The aim of the article was to present the changes in the use of reinforced concrete and the introduction of various light concrete products for the construction of light façades structures such as curtain walls. Reinforced concrete, which appeared in Dutch architecture around 1900, causes conservation problems today, which are discussed in the article on the example of the Sint Jobsveem (Jan J. Kanters), the Zonnestraal Sanatorium in Hilversum (Jan Duiker, Bernard Bijvoet and Jan Gerko Wiebenga) and the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam (Johannes Brikman, Leendert van der Vlugt and Jan Gerko Wiebenga), involving the author’s own experiences related to renovation works on these buildings. The most serious problem today is the porosity of concrete and the process of its carbonation due to the high level of CO2 caused by air pollution. In the past, the influence of cement alkalinity and its role in protecting reinforcement against corrosion was not well understood. The damaging effects of curing agents such as calcium chlorides were unknown. The focus was mainly on the relationship between the water-cement ratio and the compressive strength. Today, concrete repair methods are usually selected individually, depending on whether we are dealing with exposed or plastered concrete work, and on the size and scale of the damage. The most effective way to protect concrete against carbonation is to use a special waterproof protective coating – offering the highest possible diffusion resistance to carbon, sulfur and chloride ions and the lowest possible diffusion resistance to water vapor. Such a coating protects concrete against the penetration of CO2 and acid ions, and at the same time allows free evaporation of moisture from the concrete to the environment. The described experiences show that even heavily damaged concrete can be restored. It is a matter of cost and the challenge of keeping its original appearance.

Key words: concrete, reinforced concrete, the Netherlands, conservation, interwar period

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