Look, 'self-healing' concrete implies a certain degree of intelligence

No. 217 - Celebrating Concrete

Construction (File photo)
Construction (File photo)

What are we skinning? The news that Malta will play host to a prestigious and much-needed academic event that is highly germane to both the country's natural inclinations and needs: an international concrete conference!

Why are we skinning it? Because for a country where overdevelopment has become a key watchword, seeing giant billboards advertising the very same thing contributing to its ecological downfall lands with a particularly heavy thud.

Wait, so this is a conference on concrete? Like, concrete-concrete? For what it's worth, the full title is 'Concrete Sustainability: Materials and Structures', and it is being organised by austere-seeming entities such as our very own University of Malta, along with the International Federation for Structural Concrete.

Imagine working there... At the University of Malta? I imagine it's not TOO intellectually taxing, given the government has substantially cut its research budget...

No, I meant the other one. Oh right! Yeah, the International Federation for Structural Concrete sounds like both a Bond villain lair AND the kind of institution you'd really want on your side if stuff grows sideways.

It may grow sideways in fact. How do you mean?

Well, it seems like 'self-healing concrete' is on the conference agenda. Cutting edge stuff.

Cutting rock stuff, but we'll see how things develop going forward. You laugh, but there's something about all of this which puts me into a massive funk.

Why so? Well, seeing this almost makes me think that Malta's status as a concrete jungle is not only accepted, but that it's been actively validated by not just the highest echelons of industry, but of the academic world as well.

Look, if we're gonna get busy building, we may as well do it with the best material out there. I've walked past Mercury Towers after its launch this week.

Did it inspire you to dream about the wonders that even more innovative and intelligent concrete could lead to? No, it made me think we kind of need to hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and take it from there.

But don't you think our forebears would want us to capitalise on the best materials available to us? Maybe. You'd have to travel back in time and ask the builders of Ġgantija just what kind of material they'd aspire towards.

The best we can do, it seems, is build a block of 22 flats right under its nose. See? The concrete conference is needed now more than ever.

Do say: Conferences on common building materials are of course a normal thing to witness and attend... but in overdeveloped Malta, concrete just hits different.

Don't say: Look, 'self-healing' concrete implies a certain degree of intelligence, of the kind that is beyond the purview of most of the Maltese developer class.