Cement Mixers: Architecture’s Modern Dirty Secret



It is difficult in this day and age to imagine how many architectural feats would have been accomplished without cement mixers, concrete, and the majority of the modern equipment found on the construction sites today. The topic of modern architecture tends to divide people’s opinions because you either love it or you or hate it.


However, aside from the actual aesthetic of the building, there may be an underlying darker side to modern architecture. In this article we will look at the overuse of concrete and cement, mixed efficiently in cement mixers. This may leave you to reimagine how we construct our buildings. As you continue to read this article you will learn how concrete, even when mixed with cement mixers, may be a poor choice of material, especially when we take into consideration the environmental impact these sorts of materials can have.




The Construction Of Modern Buildings


Architecture in recent times, particularly modernist architecture, is a movement driven forward by numerous construction technologies. One of the most prominent technologies in this space is cement mixers which has improved the efficiency of cement production. This form of architecture relies heavily on a variety of construction materials and equipment that includes:


  • Reinforced concrete
  • Glass
  • Cement mixers
  • Steel frame
  • Styles which are made to showcase visual expression of function and structure
  • Accepts minimalism
  • And rejects the ornamentation of austere


Modernist architecture originated during the first half of the 20th century and was widely used till the 1980s. This form of architecture laid the foundation for postmodern architecture that is still used today. If you take a look at a lot of buildings and cities globally nowadays you will notice how most modernist and post-modernist buildings tend towards an over-reliance on the materials listed above. This includes cement and concrete that was mixed with modern techniques like cement mixers.


The easy accessibility of new reinforced materials like strengthen concrete enhanced with modern tools like cement mixers, allowed architects and builders to create ever larger and taller buildings that were not imaginable till the twentieth century. Skyscrapers and high-rise buildings started to become the new norm, due to their ability to create residential and commercial spaces in areas that are geographically limited.


The greatest strength of this architectural style has always been the materials used – materials that have been reinforced with modern and scientific advances in construction equipment and technology, like cement mixers which have allowed us to strengthen the materials with uniform mixing techniques.


Although we view these techniques as modern, it is interesting to note that at least in concept these technologies have been around for a long time. Early forms of cement mixers were first noted during the Roman period thousands of years ago. From that period till our modern times concrete and cement mixers have been used consistently and have undergone major changes.


The root cause of the consistent use of concrete and cement mixers is due to its cost-effective nature. Furthermore, it is proven that it is one of the most durable, strongest, and resilient materials to ever be developed. The structures that survived ancient Rome like the Colosseum, and Pantheon, as well as numerous amounts of tombs, can be seen as testaments to the longevity of concrete, reinforced with uniform mixing techniques with equipment like cement mixers.


Another benefit of concrete is its extremely versatile nature, including its effective insulating properties. More than just being cost-effective the concrete used today is also relatively low to maintain. With all the listed benefits it is easy to see why 10 to 20 billion tons of concrete are utilised yearly.




Unfortunately, the issue with concrete mixed in cement mixers is that many experts consider it to be over relied on in our modern period. It is forecasted that in the next 40 years buildings will grow even larger inside. With the floor count in future buildings doubling in size. If this is true, that implies that the demand for concrete and cement mixers will dramatically increase. In the next section we will investigate why these sorts of forecasts may have negative consequences for our environment.


Modern Architecture, Was It A Mistake?


Human beings, societies, health (including physical and mental), and our cultures are intricately connected to the environment, this includes the built environment. This is often incorporated into the core part of in-depth assessments of environmental impact.


Sine the mid twentieth century architects have hotly debate comprises the concept of beauty in architectural styles. The more modern styles have often been scrutinised as “ugly” and even “debased”. There are numerous polls which regard modern architecture as less favorable than more traditional styles of architecture.


A poll conducted in 2020 demonstrated how the majority of individuals tended to prefer the more traditional types of architecture, for example, revivalist and classic modern styles, as opposed to modern styles, modernism and brutalism which over rely on concrete mixed with cement mixers. These preferences were seen cross-culturally and across many demographic categories, this indicates that either modernist styles are disliked, or the overuse of concrete and cement mixers is seen as a negative consequence of this style.


Materials like stone/masonry and timber are among some of the most popular material choices with regards to those polls and this is due to their perceived natural aesthetic. Buildings which have been built with these materials are seen as more friendly, warmer, and all around more inviting. Interestingly many of these opinions may actually be backed scientific evidence confirming these polls.


A few studies have been able to show how buildings can actually affect our moods and general well-being. These studies show that there is an elevated level of mental health problems, for example, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia in people who live in urban areas. This might be a consequence of a noticeably different way of life within the city (including factors like population density), however, the aesthetics of most of the buildings you commonly see in cities do contribute these feelings.


To expand on these results from these studies we can also include the effects of architecture, then maybe one could argue how modern architecture can very well be unhealthy for us. Of course, this can be heavily debated.


Another factor that we may want to consider with regards to architectures societal impact is how it influences the way we interact with others. The efficiently built apartments have less space and are built for only one or two people to live in rather than bigger families. Thus, the space provided actually limits how we can interact with others. This feeling of isolation can actually be enhanced through the materials used, with concrete mixed with cement mixers adding to these feelings.




Is Concrete Negatively Impacting The Environment?


Here now we can discuss the impact concrete and cement mixers may have on our environment. The primary reason for this negative impact is due to the carbon dioxide emissions which are produced from concrete. Some estimations show that if you had isolated the entire concrete industry and reviewed it as a country by itself it would rate as the third largest CO2 emitter in the world.


In 2015 it was estimated that the whole industry emitted roughly 2.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide alone. This is equal to almost 8% of total emissions. In 2019, it was estimated that China contributed roughly 28% and the United States contributed roughly 14% to these construction emissions. These estimations take into account both the concrete being mixed and the CO2 emission related to the running of cement mixers. Concrete has its fair share of the blame for the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.


To add to this, the use of concrete and cement mixers is said to be on the rise over the next few years and beyond. There is an increasingly high demand for cheap, fast-constructed infrastructure and buildings, especially in countries like India and China which are growing at a rapid pace. This will lead to more concrete being made and poured from cement mixers every year.


However, it is important to keep in mind that one of the main issues with concrete is unfortunately the cement which is one of the main ingredients which helps make concrete. If you are unaware, cement is usually used as a binding agent for other ingredients like gravel, water, and sand. These are the ingredients usually utilised to make concrete.


In a lot of instances, the type of cement typically used is called Portland cement. This cement was first created in the early 1800s by an engineer in Britain, currently, it is utilised in almost 98% of the concrete mixed and poured worldwide. It has been shown that in the production of this cement large amounts of carbon dioxide are produced as a byproduct from the creation of a material known as clinker.


This material is a solid produced as a middle product in the process of manufacturing Portland cement, one of the world’s most common types of cement. In short, yes, concrete is negatively impacting the environment but only because of the materials which concrete is composed of.


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