Introduction to steel's role in construction in Europe


To inspire designers with an enthusiasm for steel construction. To identify the advantages of steel for construction in Europe, emphasising its future potential and the rewarding challenge it offers.


Steel has been produced for about 120 years. It is a modern material with an exciting future.

The advantages of steel are described together with recent developments that have enhanced them, i.e. improvements in manufacturing; an enhanced range of properties; improvements in fabrication and speed of construction, adaptability, consistent quality, lightness, stiffness, and strength.

The future development of uses of steel are discussed.


Steel was first produced in the Middle Ages, but it was not until just over a century ago that it was used for structural engineering.

Today, many remarkable structures demonstrate the possibilities of this well developed material in their clear and transparent appearance (see Pictures 1-4).


Picture 1: Bridge structure made of structural hollow sections

Picture 2: European Patent Office building (The Hague, Netherlands)

Picture 3: Bay Adelaide East Tower (Toronto, Canada)

Picture 4: Hovenring bridge (Netherlands)


The strength-to-volume ratio, the wide range of possible applications, the availability of many standardised parts, the reliability of the material, and the ability to give shape to nearly all architectural wishes are some of the reasons to choose this material for the main structure and for other elements of a building or other construction.

Safe and strong steel structures are assured by well-educated designers with Quality Assured and Quality Controlled production. A long life with a small amount of maintenance can be guaranteed by using well designed details, a high level of pre-production in modern well-equipped mills with skilled employees, and modern corrosion-resistant systems.

Steel structures are resilient, flexible in use, and adaptable. As the most collected and recycled material in the world, steel is now part of the way forward for circularity in sustainable construction.

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