Construction Methods for Concrete Houses of the 1920's
Economy is a consideration in favor of concrete as a material for house construction. While lumber and labor have advanced considerably, the materials used in concrete have increased only a trifle in cost. Cost is influenced, of course, by size, design, local conditions, etc.
The picture to the right shows a concrete house where the walls, floors, roof, stairs are of concrete. Even the shingles, moldings and cornices are of concrete monolithic with the structure as a whole.
Portable houses or garages of concrete slabs, all ready to be set up, can be bought in a variety of not unpleasing elevations.
While the Americans have been developing the science of concrete work, the architects of southern Germany have made splendid progress in the artistic employment of the new material. Severe and simple in treatment, but exquisite in proportion, their large buildings and small houses have both beauty and character. Erected in a city or town, their white facades, in which the windows are finely placed, ennoble and dignify a street; and when one of these white houses is set in the green country-side, it mingles with the landscape in a picturesque way which delights the eye.
The picture on the right shows a military mess hall in the course of constuction. A seventy-six foot concrete wall is being raised into position.
In America we are making churches and houses in sections. A wooden platform is laid on the ground, and machinery is placed beneath it, by means of which it can be raised. All door-frames, window-frames and other openings are set in their proper positions on the platform, and the reinforcement of steel rods is arranged horizontally and vertically. Then the concrete is poured in. In this manner a wall 200 feet long and three stories high can be cast in a single day. It is allowed to set for forty-eight hours, and then a small engine puts in motion the machinery beneath the platform, and the huge wall rises from the inside, slowly and quietly, to its permanent upright position. When all the walls are in place, the corners from which steel rods project and interlock are "poured," and floors and roof of concrete are cast in the ordinary way. The wooden platform and its machinery can be used over and over again.
Concrete houses are stronger and more completely proof against damp and fire than other forms of construction. They cost less to build and less to maintain, owing to the extraordinary durability of the new material. It can be made in various colors, and molded into harmonious lines and exquisite forms. From the point of view of health, no building material can be compared with it. Hospitals and schools and large buildings should be constructed entirely with it. Especially is it necessary to do away with wooden floors and wooden stairs and all kinds of boarding. This is easily done in a modern concrete building, where the floor and wall surfaces can be designed in softly beautiful colors. Concrete is vermin-proof, no rats or mice or insects can burrow into it. Moreover, the fungus growth which spreads in the course of time in old buildings cannot form on the new material, and there are no lodging-places for the microbes of disease. By means of a hose, a building of reinforced concrete can be cleaned inside and out with ease and rapidity.
Cheap and beautiful, sanitary and ever-lasting, modern concrete is surely destined to revolutionize the habitations of man throughout the world.