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It’s the most prevalent man-made material in the world. There’s so much of it to go round that each person on this planet could own three tons. By all accounts, that’s a lot of concrete. Yet, if you think about it, we rarely think about concrete at all. It’s existed in its modern form for only two brief centuries.

Yet the cement-and sand-based substance has seeped unstoppably to all four corners of the world, and it’s done this in such an unassuming manner that it seems like it’s always been here, that it isn’t a relatively new kid on the block. In those 200 years, it’s become a silent – barely noticeable – and ubiquitous observer of our lives. It’s just ‘there’, a bit like the air, or the sky. But is it really as invisible as all that?

In 200 years, it’s become a silent – barely noticeable – and ubiquitous observer of our lives

Let’s be flat-out honest here. There’s a side to concrete that has always been repellent, right? It’s often seen as the poor, basic, unloved sibling of other substances. Little wonder that whenever concrete is mentioned or referred to, the first associative thought that crystallises in many a mind is a faceless urban landscape, deprived of – and, in turn, depriving others of – the greenery of nature. Who is the worst (but by no means the only) culprit? Enter the commie block.