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Creativity

History of Scaffolding

Alice-India Garwood
by Alice-India Garwood on May 16, 2018

Scaffolding, much like the crane, is a common sight in cities, towns and villages across the country and around the world. But, unlike the crane, would you believe that very little has changed when it comes to scaffolding.

"Very little has changed when it comes to scaffolding"

Since Ancient Egypt we have used scaffolding as a safe and efficient method to bring our buildings to life. It was in Ancient Egypt that we start seeing scaffolding used for the purposes of construction. Originally using steps to get from one level to another and lifting bricks and materials up to each level.

History Scaffold Scaffolding Construction Technology [Photo credit: Roman Aqueducts]

In fact, during the construction of medieval cathedrals, we used a very similar method many thousands of years later. In medieval times across Europe we were using scaffolding and Roman style cranes to lift materials from one level to another. Not much different to today!

"In medieval times across Europe we were using scaffolding and Roman style cranes to lift materials from one level to another"

Previous to the Egyptians, cavemen were using scaffolding so that they could paint high walls and ceilings within their caves. We know this from the wall sockets - much like those on the European cathedrals mentioned before - around the paleolithic paintings of Lascaux in the south west of France.

History of Scaffolding Cavemen - French Cycling Holidays[Photo Credit: French Cycling Holidays]

What makes this even more interesting is that this is the exact method that Michelangelo used when painting the Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512.

"This is the exact method that Michelangelo used when painting the Sistine Chapel"

We’ve talked a lot about Europe and Africa, well, would you believe in China and the far east bamboo scaffolding has been the standard for over 5000 years? Some countries still use this method today!

History of Scaffolding Pattern Pictures[Photo Credit: Pattern Pictures]

Tying the bamboo together with rope creates light-weight, strong, flexible and portable scaffolding.

“What makes bamboo such an incredible material for scaffolding?” I hear you cry!

Well, where to begin? Due to the speed and density at which bamboo grows it is fantastically sustainable. Not only this it’s strength is unbeatable: It has a higher strength to weight ratio than graphite, higher tensile strength than steel and higher compressible strength than some mixes of concrete!

I cannot handle how magic bamboo is!

In the UK and Europe using metal scaffolding is the standard. It was not until after WW1 however that we got the scaffolding we recognise and work with today.

History of Scaffolding Access Solutions Ltd[Photo Credit: Access Solutions]

David Palmer Jones and David Henry Jones invented the scaffixer, a safer and more reliable method for keeping scaffold poles together. It was such a successful innovation that they were responsible for the reconstruction of Buckingham Palace in 1919. It became the predominant method for scaffolding post war.

"The scaffixer, a safer and more reliable method for keeping scaffold poles together"

The scaffolding we use today is not too far off this same method. In fact it isn’t too far off any of the scaffolding we’ve explored here. Scaffolding is the perfect example of “if it ain’t broken, why fix it?”

Did you know any of this about scaffolding? I don’t know about you but my whole perspective on scaffolding has completely changed!

Tags: Creativity

AUTHOR
Alice-India Garwood

Alice-India Garwood

Content Marketing Executive at Bobtrade. Interested in design, sustainability and the history of construction. I love all things indie and theatrical.