Concrete has historically been the most popular structural ingredient used in the Australian construction industry, but that’s changing as the industry begins harnessing the power of steel.
‘Man-of-steel’, ‘nerves of steel’, ‘steely gaze’. Replace ‘steel’ with ‘concrete’ in those statements and they just doesn't have the same ring to them.
It's no coincidence that steel has worked its way into the English lexicon as a metaphor for strength and reliability, and now, it's well and truly worked its way into the Australian construction industry.
Structural steel currently makes up 20 per cent of non-residential Australian high-rises, but this is expected to grow to 25 per cent by 2017.
Steel is increasing in popularity for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fast construction time it offers on site. We all know time is money in the construction industry, especially when it comes to labour costs; not only can steel get the job done quicker, it requires less manpower.
Steel means fewer concrete pours and, consequently, fewer trucks on site, which means less noise, less material waste and less traffic disruption. Over the lifetime of a project, steel also provides greater flexibility for developers, architects and designers. Not only does it leave open the option of changing designs as tenant needs change, but it's easier to build with steel on top of existing buildings.
Breaking concrete myths
Concrete has its strengths but, globally, steel is the preferred product in most overseas construction, particularly in the USA and UK. Builders understand that steel allows for progressive architectural design, which is one of the main reasons the steel industry is driving innovation in Australian construction.
In the final analysis, when compared to concrete, steel offers faster construction time on site, less labour and greater flexibility, now and in the future.