The concrete industry has bid farewell to an influential leader who made significant strides in this sector.
Louis Marais, widely regarded as the pioneer of modern concrete paving in South Africa, passed away recently.
Louis joined the Portland Cement Institute (the forerunner of the Cement & Concrete Institute, now The Concrete Institute) in 1965 as a Roads Engineer and was responsible for introducing concrete pavements/roads into South Africa. While at the PCI, Louis purchased a small side-form paver to conduct demonstration projects to showcase modern concrete paving technology to local engineers and contractors.
Louis worked tirelessly with engineers from the Department of Transport to develop design methods and specifications for concrete roads and managed to make concrete the preferred building material for several new roads in the 1970s through to the 1990s.
He also played a leading role in the development of design guides for the use of cement stabilisation of soils and conducted early groundbreaking research into the development of concrete block paving, using an early version of the South African Heavy Vehicle Simulator. Furthermore, Louis promoted excellence in concrete industrial floor design and construction and co-authored with Bryan Perrie, MD of The Concrete Institute, the acclaimed handbook Concrete Industrial Floors on the Ground.
In January 2010, Louis was inducted as an Honorary Member of the International Society for Concrete Pavements, a global organisation dedicated to the promotion of concrete pavements. According to Bryan, who delivered the eulogy at the funeral, Louis enjoyed the highest respect of all involved in the local and international concrete industry and made an immeasurable contribution to the acceptance and widespread application of concrete roads that now prevail in South Africa.