Obituary Louis Marais

16 October 2014

4 May 1932 – 30 May 2014

Louis Marais, widely regarded as the pioneer of modern concrete paving in South Africa, passed away recently.

Marais joined the Portland Cement Institute (forerunner of the Cement & Concrete Institute, and now The Concrete Institute) in 1965 as a Roads Engineer and was responsible for introducing concrete pavements into South Africa. While at the PCI, Marais purchased a small side-form paver to conduct demonstration projects to showcase modern concrete paving technology to local engineers and contractors. His first success came in 1968 when concrete was specified for 26 km of freeway outside Cape Town.

Marais 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 to 1990s.

He played a leading role in the development of design guides for the use of cement stabilisation of soils and conducted early ground-breaking research into the development of concrete block paving, using an early version of the South African Heavy Vehicle Simulator. Marais was also responsible for promoting excellence in concrete industrial floor design and construction and, with Bryan Perrie, MD of The Concrete Institute, co-authored the authoritative handbook, Concrete Industrial Floors on the Ground, which is now an essential guide on the topic in South Africa.

In January 2010, Marais was inducted as an Honorary Member of the International Society for Concrete Pavements, a global organisation dedicated to the promotion of concrete pavements.

Bryan Perrie, who delivered the eulogy at Marais’s funeral in Roodepoort recently, said the passing of a man he regarded as his tutor, had deprived the world of “a giant in the field of concrete pavements – a legend in his lifetime.” Perrie – who understudied Marais for a decade prior to his retirement – said Marais enjoyed the highest respect of everyone in the local and international concrete industry and made an immeasurable contribution to the acceptance and widespread application of concrete roads that now prevails in South Africa.

Caption: Louis Marais, the doyen of concrete pavements in South Africa, has passed away.

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