The Past, Present and Future of Concrete Construction

  • Gabriel Lim IEM
  • Chat Tim Tam Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore
Keywords: Concrete, Cementitious Materials, Additions, Admixtures, Strength, Consistence, Durability, Sustainability


Concrete has always been the major construction material since the historical past, at present and will continue into the future.  This presentation covers the period from the first UK design code (CP 114, 1957) in UK to the current European design code (BS EN 1992-1-1: 2004) and their associated standards on concrete and its constituent materials.  The 10th Professor Chin Fung Kee Memorial Lecture in 2000 on “Concrete: From 2000 psi to 80 MPa and Beyond” was delivered before the adoption of Eurocodes.  This new system is based on performance approach, in place of the more prescriptive approach of the former UK system.  Engineering education and practice have to meet the changes with updated knowledge to benefit from these advances in design, materials and construction.  The main emphasis is on changes in concrete with new types of cement, addition, admixture and the diminishing stock of aggregates.  Replacing the traditional reliance on past experience with innovative approaches in concrete technology based on acceptance of rational performance criteria leads to progress in the construction industry.  The progressive advances over the past six decades provided by personal experience have transferred through the teaching, research and development of new concrete concepts in concrete technology to the construction industry.  There is also an urgent need to look into the future direction for concrete and the associated challenges ahead with the expected global warming to achieve higher levels of strength, consistence and durability for a sustainable concrete construction industry.

Author Biography

Chat Tim Tam , Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore

Ir. Er. Dr Tam has been involved with the study of concrete and its constituent materials for over 50 years after graduating in Civil Engineering in 1958. He began his academic career in 1963 at the Department of Civil Engineering of University of Malaya and since 1979, at the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, of National University of Singapore. Throughout this period, the transfer of findings and practices from the more established countries in temperate climatic regions to meet the required performance in tropical climate has provided the motivation and challenges in research and engineering practice. 


Recognizing that the difference in ambient temperature between the two regions is a significant factor requiring consideration in the performance of concrete, the need to develop modifications to achieve similar performance and to introduce them through local standards and site practice has been his on-going career activities. An example is the introduction of layered casting method for thick raft foundations to minimize potential DEF and early thermal cracking in tropical climate.


Ir Dr Tam obtained BE (Hons) and ME from the University of Adelaide, South Australia and PhD from the University of Calgary, Canada.  He is a registered P.Eng. in both Malaysia and Singapore, C.Eng. in UK, FIEM, FIES, FIStructE, FACI, FCS and member of Technical Committees in ASTM, ACI and Enterprise Singapore for over 40 years, and the transition to Eurocodes in Singapore since 1 April, 2013. Past President of Singapore Concrete Institute, First Life Member (1997), and Life Time Achievement Award, (2009), Past President of ACI Singapore Chapter, and Distinguish Chapter Member (1999). Recipient of Gold Medal, SISIR, (1985), Distinguish Award, SAC, (2006), Distinguish Partner Award, SINGLAS, (2010), Special Recognition of Partners, (2016) SPRING, and CSM Excellent Award, Concrete Society of Malaysia, (2008). Effective from 1 July 2019 Ir. Dr Tam received Honorary Fellow appointment at NUS.

How to Cite
Lim, G., & Tam, C. T. (2021). The Past, Present and Future of Concrete Construction . The Journal of The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia, 82(2).