Concrete, the 5th element: “This material has united Switzerland, more than certain myths”

He is everywhere but we no longer see him. In Switzerland, from bunkers to works of art, concrete is in all its forms. At a time of essential debate on the environmental impact of its production and growing urbanization, its omnipresence raises questions. Read all this week.

With 584 kg of cement per inhabitant used each year, Switzerland is one of the countries that consume the most concrete, ahead of its French, German and Italian neighbours. However, historically, the use of concrete began later in Switzerland than in these countries. Today decried for its ecological impact, but still widely used, the material has had a unique history. Salvatore Aprea, an architect by training, architectural historian and curator of the Archives of Modern Construction at EPFL, talks about its expansion, which is closely linked to the development of civil engineering in the country.

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