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Dapsens Cement Works

Dapsens Cement Works

One of the oldest witnesses of prestressed concrete

The concrete remains of the Cimenteries Alexandre Dapsens are perhaps the oldest witnesses to the technique of prestressed concrete in Belgium.

Halfway through the Second World War, manufacturer Blaton constructed four new silos and a packing room at the request of the Dapsens cement factory in Tournai. Construction began in March 1943 and was completed after just five months.

It was not only the rapid construction that attracted attention. The construction technology used was also an absolute world first. Blaton used the Blaton-Magnel system of prestressed concrete.

Prestressed concrete

With prestressed concrete, steel cables are placed under tension in the concrete.  Professor Gustave Magnel from Ghent University developed a Belgian variant of the technique devised by the Frenchman Eugène Freyssinet. Magnel worked with the Blaton company, hence the name of their discovery: the Blaton-Magnel system.

The new technology required lower consumption of materials such as cement and steel, useful in times of war scarcity, and made constructing impressive structures possible. For example, in 1948, Magnel designed an extensive factory hall with hardly any columns or support points for the Union Cotonnière textile factory in Ghent.


The prestressed concrete technique for the Dapsens factory was used not only on the approximately seventeen-meter-high silos but also on the passerelle that connected the new silos with four older reinforced concrete silos from 1925.

Concrete shelter

In the 1950s, a unique construction was added. An umbrella-shaped roof was built at the parking lot in front of the silos, resting on one star-shaped pillar. Under the roof, truck drivers could load and unload sand and cement without getting wet.

Apartments and lofts

After the closure of Dapsens, the silos were used for storing grain, but they have now been empty for years. This will soon change: new residential blocks will be built around the silos, while the concrete umbrella will be preserved.

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