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François Hennebique


François Hennebique (April 26, 1842 – 7 March, 1921) was a French engineer and self-educated builder who patented his pioneering reinforced-concrete construction system in 1892. Before his work, the greatest problem in reinforced concrete construction was the monolithic joint, meaning the integration of separate members of construction, such as the column and the beam, into a single monolithic element. The Hennebique system was one of the first appearances of the modern reinforced-concrete method of construction.

Hennebique had first worked as a stonemason, later becoming a builder, with a particular interest in restoration of old churches. Hennebique's Béton Armé system started out by using concrete as a fireproof protection for wrought iron beams, on a house project in Belgium in 1879. He realised however, that the floor system would be more economic if the iron were used only where the slab was in tension, relying on the concrete in the compression areas.[1] His solution was reinforced concrete - a concrete slab with steel bars in its bottom face.

His business developed rapidly, expanding from five employees in Brussels in 1896, to twenty-five two years later when he moved to Paris. In addition, he had a rapidly expanding network of firms acting as agents for his system. These included L.G. Mouchel in Britain, and Eduard Zublin in Germany.[2]

Between 1892 and 1902, over 7,000 structures were built using the Hennebique system, including buildings, water towers and bridges. Most of these were by other firms licensing the technology, although Hennebique designed some structures himself, including the 1899 bridge at Châtellerault (pictured).[3]


  1. ^ McBeth, Douglas: "Francois Hennebique (1842-1921) - Reinforced concrete pioneer", Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1998
  2. ^ McBeth, op.cit.
  3. ^ Billington, David P.: "The Tower and the Bridge", Princeton University Press, 1983

External links and sources

  • François Hennebique information at Structurae
  • CIVL 1101 - History of Concrete Construction - Course material at University of Memphis
  • Information on the S.S. Francois Hennebique, a concrete ship built during WWII.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "François_Hennebique". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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