Building materials and construction: Constructing a quality of life

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Catastrophes and new societal ambitions energized the huge construction effort undertaken between 1910 and 1970. The floods of 1917 and 1953 led to enormous investments in coastal defences. The government also undertook major investments in the construction of roadways and other infrastructural works. New building codes, damage incurred during the Second World War and population growth incited new housing construction on a colossal scale. Demand for building materials grew apace. The need for wood and mineral subsoil resources transformed nature and landscapes in the Netherlands and at foreign sites. Dutch forestry practices were rationalised. Imports from the Baltic regions by and large met the Dutch demand for wood. But the creation of monocultures and production forests in these regions reduced local biodiversity. Gravel and marl were mined above all in the province of Limburg. That led to tensions with local stakeholders. Gravel extraction transformed the floodplains of the Meuse into a lake landscape. It led directly to the Excavation Law, the first environmental law in the area of land-use. After 1970, regulations concerning land-use and new landscape values would regularly inspire conflicts in the national supply of building materials (see Chap. 19).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWell-Being, Sustainability and Social Development
Subtitle of host publicationThe Netherlands 1850-2050
EditorsHarry Lintsen, Frank Veraart, Jan-Pieter Smits, John Grin
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9783319766966
ISBN (Print)9783319766959
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018


  • Building materials
  • Cement
  • Coastal defences
  • Concrete
  • Construction
  • Gravel
  • Housing construction
  • Infrastructure
  • Iron
  • Land-use
  • Limburg
  • Minerals
  • Wood


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