Eugène Freyssinet: an inspirational founder
Freyssinet’s particularly rich history tells the story of a strong and resilient company, founded on the fundamental values of its founder and developed over time to meet the challenges of its time.
Société Technique pour l’Utilisation de la Précontrainte (STUP), now known as Freyssinet, was born in February 1943 out of engineer Eugène Freyssinet’s inventions and his determination, together with Edme Campenon (founder of Campenon Bernard), to develop these inventions.
Following the initial inventions, prestressing in 1928, flat jack in 1938 and anchor cones in 1939, a large number of patents were filed by STUP and then Freyssinet International, some of which are groundbreaking: neoprene bearings (1957), reinforcement tensioning and anchoring process and system (1967), cable stay system (1974), Isotension system (1989). In 1981, the number of patents totalled 231. These inventions were to revolutionize the building industry. Today, they still account for Freyssinet’s technological superiority.
Export of know-how and fast internationalization
Freyssinet’s know how in prestressing, the numerous innovations and the strong determination to export these innovations and use them on various types of structures, all this paved the way for Freyssinet unparalleled development on the five continents. This growth enables Freyssinet to be present in nearly 70 countries in the mid-1970s and develop a true culture of proximity to its clients and local partners.
Continuous search for diversification
Until the 1960s, most contracts were secured in developed countries and were mainly for engineering structures (about 90% of turnover). During the 1970s, the proportion of engineering structures fell to 60%, while services were developed in the fields of building, industry, energy (mainly nuclear) and offshore works for oil extraction.
In the same way as the sectors of activity have expanded, the range of services, which originally consisted exclusively of prestressing, has gradually been enriched by other specialties:
- Launching beams and incremental launch systems,
- Cantilever construction of bridge decks with mobile equipment,
- Heavy lifting and handling by means of flat jacks or cables,
- Repair of structures using injection techniques,
- Ground anchors with pre-stressed bars or cables injected with special mortar or grout,
- Stay and suspension cables, using anchors,
- Metal or neoprene bearings made earthquake resistant,
- Expansion joints.
1928First prestressing system
1938First flat jack
1974First stay cable system
231Number of patents filed in 1981
Inventiveness, international footprint, vertical integration and diversification – all these features are the Freyssinet DNA.
The 1940’s: the wartime experience and the beginnings
The STUP (Société Technique pour l’Utilisation de la Précontrainte) purpose is to exploit and expand the use of the Freyssinet processes. Building on a well-equipped design office and an energetic sales and marketing department, it embarks on a wide promotion campaign, distributing a large number of technical brochures and participating in virtually each exhibition organized by the Ministry of Industrial Production.
NAME OF THE PRESIDENT – Eugène Freyssinet
The Luzancy bridge, designed by Eugène Freyssinet, is the first prestressed concrete bridge build in France. It is built over the Marne River during the Second World War in order to replace a bridge destroyed in June 1940.
Designed as a girder bridge with a span of 55 metres and a characteristic very low arch, it is very lightweight (thickness in the centre of only 1.22 metres). Most importantly, it is made of self-centring pre-cast segments.
Orly airport (France): STUP is the first to think of using prestressing for airport runways. In 1947, it builds a 420m-long and 16cm-thick prestressed concrete runway, able to support the weight of 135-tonne aircraft.
Creation of branches in Brazil and Denmark
Hull testing gallery in Toulouse (France): STUP uses a battery of flat jacks to ensure the longitudinal prestressing of the structure.
PSC Equipment Ltd is founded in UK
Galion bridge in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) is one of the first bridges favouring prestressed concrete beams.
Also, a prefabrication plant set up by Eugène Freyssinet at Esbly, east of Paris, supports the construction by Entreprises Campenon Bernard of five large bridges over the Marne, including the Esbly bridge in 1949. All structured in the same way with a 74m span, they are designed using the same construction method as for Luzancy bridge.
The 1950’s: the contribution to reconstruction
STUP designs three viaducs with a maximum span of 150 metres for the Caracas-La Guaira motorway in Venezuela.
For the Kunu water pipeline (India) 1800 m length and internal diameter 6m, STUP used prestressing to ensure that it could support a 5 bars pressure.
In 1945, a total of 7550 highway engineering structures in France have been destroyed during the war. Seven years later, two-third of them are back in service. STUP played a leading role in this reconstruction, particularly for road bridges. The low cost of Freyssinet processes reflects a major advantage of prestressing – the fact that it saves substantial amounts of steel and concrete and allows much shorter timeframes, by streamlining the entire cross-section of the bridges.
Europe 1 radio transmitter in Felsberg (Germany): this futuristic hall is an architectural masterpiece and is affectionately called “The cathedral of waves”. The first roof broke and was restored and strengthened by STUP.
Bridge over the Wouri river in Douala, Cameroon: first major bridge built in prestressed concrete in Africa. Length of 1700 m, deck made of 210 sections.
Underground basilica of Saint Pius X (France): a 200m long prestressed concrete nave is designed and built for the basilica, which is one of the most famous religious monuments in the world. This construction is considered to be Eugène Freyssinet’s most masterful work.
Lake Ponchartrain Causeway in Louisiana (United States): STUP wins the contract to serve as engineering consultant of this bridge, the world longest (38 km) for which the span elements are precast on the lake shore.
Motorway bridge at Orly (France): Design and construction of a 130m-long prestressed concrete motorway bridge.
The Tancarville access viaduct (France) consists of pre-stressed concrete beams manufactured in series, each beam being 50m long and weighing 120 tons.
THE 1960’s: the international breakthrough
Road system in Brasilia (Brazil)
Kobe bridge (Japan)
Creation of “Europe Etudes” based in France, an office dedicated to structural design services.
Erraguene multi-vault dam on the Wadi Djen Djen (Algeria)
STUP designs and carries out the load transfer of the Gladesville bridge (Australia) using flat jacks. The 305m single-span arch sets a world record at the time of its construction.
Creation of “Asie Etudes” – based in France
Creation of branches in Switzerland and Spain
Design of the 13-km monorail linking Tokyo and Haneda Airport
Built using the precast arch segment construction method for the first time, the Oleron bridge is the longest bridge in France at the time of its inauguration.
Creation of a branch in Mexico
Patent filed for mono-group anchorages: primarily used in nuclear systems
Abu Simbel temple lifting: STUP lifts by 63 metres the temple of Abu Simbel in order to preserve the temple from the rising waters of the Aswan dam. Freyssinet flat jacks are used to support the new pillars.
STUP builds the motorway bridge’s prestressed concrete deck using the precast segmental method, where segments are picked up using a launching gantry and lowered into place.
THE 1970’s: the expansion in the energy industry
Partnership: A general cooperation agreement is agreed with the company Soletanche, specialized in foundation work and ground anchors.
Engineering contract for the repair of the 19.6-km Chesapeake Bay Bridge (United States)
Creation of a branch in Malaysia
- Parc des Princes Stadium (France)
- Noirmoutier bridge (France)
Ekofisk offshore oil platform (Norway) is the first oil platform built in prestressed concrete and the first designed by Freyssinet. The construction required a total of 150,000 m3 of concrete. Towing took place in Stavanger’s Fjord, 320 km from the site.
Bridge of Saint Cloud (France): Curved bridge built by successive cantilevers, using prefabricated segments weighing 73 to 130 tons
Creation of a branch in Hong Kong
Most of the viaducts, overpasses and covered sections of this 36 km long motorway have been prestressed using Freyssinet processes (approximately 320,000 m2 of deck). The design is done by Europe Etudes (STUP) and the execution by Européenne d’Entreprises and Fougerolle.
Concorde Lafayette hotel in Porte Maillot, Paris (France): 50 000 m² pre-stressed floors with greased monostrands.
Freyssinet is the first company to use strands as a resistant element of the stay. The technology used is logically derived from that of prestressing. Fatigue resistance is obtained by filtering out overload stresses by means of an epoxy resin injection in the anchoring area. The free part of the stays is protected against corrosion by injecting a cement grout inside the duct surrounding the bundle of strands.
Main project: Rio-Niteroi bridge (Brazil)
French nuclear programme (France): the construction of the Dampierre, Gravelines and Tricastin power plants marks the start of the French nuclear programme. Freyssinet signs large prestressing contracts, which cover the nuclear containments (900 MW programme from 1974 to 1984, 1300 MW programme from 1976 to 1986)
It is estimated today that Freyssinet has achieved the prestressing of two third of the world’s current nuclear power plants.
Creation of a branch in New Zealand
Velodrome of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal (Canada): Freyssinet is involved in its construction, using a specific method of load transfer by placing flat jacks at the four abutments.
Brotonne bridge (France): With a span of 320 metres, the bridge equipped with the first Freyssinet stay cables features the longest cable-stayed span in the world at the time of its construction.
Ed Hendler bridge in Washington (United States) is the first major cable-stayed bridge to be built in the United States, and second-longest of its kind in the world at the time. It is constructed almost entirely of prestressed concrete, including the towers and the bridge deck.
Saint-Jacques Cathedral (Guatemala): Complete restoration after the 1976 earthquake
Freyssinet wins the export Oscar in recognition of having increased its sales by a factor of more than five over a five-year period. At that point, the company is operating in 70 countries outside France, which accounts for 57% of its revenue.
Main project: Sathorn bridge in Bangkok (Thailand)
THE 1980’s: from crisis and transformation to recovery
Muna project (Saudi Arabia): Freyssinet Saudi Arabia and Freyssinet International are carrying out the entire covering, including foundations and ground anchors, of a structure intended to serve as a reservoir for the water supply to Mecca.
Long Key bridge in Florida (United States): Deck consisting of a single box girder 12m wide and 2.10m high. The girder is constructed of prefabricated segments laid, span by span, on a steel beam fixed to the piers.
Prestressing and construction methods of this 3km-long and 18m-large bridge.
Creation of a branch in the Netherlands
Patent filed jointly with LCPC -Laboratoire des Ponts et Chaussées
- Gas storage tanks on Das Island (UAE): Prestressing works on three 80,000m3 LNG tanks and four 50,000m3 LPG tanks.
- Gerland stadium in Lyon (France): Renovation works. Installation and lifting – using 2 12T15 cables – of the prefabricated beams supporting the new 8400 m2 roof
Creation of a branch in Indonesia
Coatzacoalcos II Bridge (Mexico): First stay cable bridge built by Freyssinet in Mexico. 1170m prestressed concrete deck with inclined sections built by cantilever, segments cast in place
Acquisition of Torkret, shotcrete specialist.
Tancredo Neves bridge, also known as “Fraternity Bridge” (Brazil): Freyssinet builds the prestressed structure of the bridge located over the Iguaçu River, which connects Brazil to Argentina.
Saint-Paul’s Cathedral, Abidjan (Ivory Coast) is entirely built with reinforced and prestressed concrete.
Creation of a branch in New Zealand
The new design allows a stay that is both more durable and easier to assemble and disassemble.
- Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plan (China): First nuclear plan in China
- Grande Arche of La Défense (France): Design, supply and installation of 48 elastomeric bearings to support the 300 000 tons of the arch. The Freyssinet system is also chosen for the prestressing of the mega-beams.
The technical feat consists of lifting by 6.5 metres seven platform decks, which are sinking into the seabed due to the decompression of the limestone layers resulting from oil and gas extraction.
Acquisition of Cipec (bearings and pavement joints)
Creation of the Freysas branch in Turkey
Tampico bridge (Mexico): The 1,543m-long bridge located on the Panuco River is fitted with Freyssinet stay cables, using the new technology of individually protected strands. A specific construction method also allows the rapid lifting of 150-tonne metal segments in 2 hours.
Wandre cable-stayed bridge (Belgium): First use of Freyssinet new dampers and individually protected strands
Creation of a branch in Korea
THE 1990’s: the intensification of repair activities
The C-anchor is still the most compact system on the market today.
- Construction of 5 LNG tanks (South Korea)
- Cathodic protection of the Noirmoutier bridge (France)
Creation of a branch in Hungary
Baldwin bridge (United States): Large bridge between Boston and New York, built by incremental launching with a specially designed launching gantry.
Hibernia offshore oil platform (Canada): Prestressing of the platform off the coast of Newfoundland. 6600 tons of cables installed between 1993 and 1996.
Reinforcement of the CNIT in La Défense (France) wins the Innovation award in 1999 by French Federation for Public Works
Iroise bridge (France)
Normandy bridge (France): Equipped with Freyssinet stay cables and specific cross-ties to prevent deck vibration, this 1,966m-long cable-stayed bridge is the largest built in the world.
Rehabilitation of Bubiyan bridge (Kuwait): In 1991 during the Gulf war, four of the spans are destroyed. Freyssinet works in 1995 to make the structure safe. From 1999 onwards, it strengthens the structure and rebuilds the destroyed spans.
Vasco de Gama bridge, Lisbon (Portugal): Longest bridge in southern Europe (18 km). Freyssinet is involved for the design, supply and installation of 192 stay cables and of very high performance expansion joints (Eole joint) and seismic devices.
Second bridge on the River Severn (United Kingdom)
Kuala Lumpur’s Light Rail Transit System (Malaysia): Cantilever construction of the aerial section, prefabricated segments put in place using the incremental launching method.
Channel Tunnel (France/UK): Heavy repair works are carried out in the tunnel after an intense fire broke out. 5700 m2 of surface area to be reconstituted in 60 days.
Construction of the European Parliament, Strasbourg (France): 200,000 m2 of prestressed slabs to limit the height, provide stability and better resistance to earthquakes.
Malaysia Telekom Tower in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): 76 floors, 230 000 m2, innovative prestressed slabs.
- Ting Kau bridge (Hong Kong): 3,000 tonnes of cables for 384 stay cables, 64 stays for stabilizing pylons and 8 longitudinal stabilization 500 m long stays.
- Prince Edward bridge (Canada): Innovative construction methods for this 13,000 m prestressed bridge.
- Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport – 2F Terminal (France)
Acquisition of Terre Armée International, world leader in Reinforced Earth® structures
Chartrouse bridge (France): First implementation of Cohestrand to replacing the existing suspension cables.
Cardiff Millennium Stadium (UK): The roof is supported by four 80m cables masts and 18 cable stays, the longest with a length of 60 metres. Implementation in only four weeks.
Acquisition of Menard Soltraitement, specialised in ground impovement
Creation of branches in Romania and Poland
THE 2000’s: The world leader in stay cable systems
At the beginning of the 21st century, the group generates over 80% of its revenue outside France. It employs 2,800 people worldwide, including 16% engineers and managers, 39% technicians and 45% workers and administrative personnel.
- Inauguration of Seohae bridge (South Korea)
- Renovation of Penang bridge (Malaysia)
- Oresund bridge (Sweden)
- Charles River bridge (United States)
Creation of a branch in the United Arab Emirates
Acquisition of MTS in France (Asbestos removal)
Construction of the SART canal bridge (Belgium): Prestressing and incremental launching of the 65,000 tons of the final structure, a world record.
San Juan’s underground railway (Puerto Rico)
Sungar Muai bridge (Malaysia):First use of the multi-tube saddle, which simplifies the design of the pylons. The strands are individually deviated, which eliminates the problems of strand-to-strand friction.
- Rion-Antirion bridge (Greece): Freyssinet installs 368 stay cables.
- Millau viaduct (France): Freyssinet is responsible for nailing the deck and providing and installing the stay cables required for this 340m-high structure.
- Cape Girardeau bridge (United States)
- Chiapas launched bridge (Mexico)
- Plock bridge (Poland)
Acquisition of Hebetec (Heavy lifting and handling services)
- Kanne suspension bridge (Belgium): the Cohestrand strand is being used for the first time on an industrial scale on this bridge.
- Bai Chai bridge, Bay of Along (Vietnam)
- JMB méthodes (including a method for the skidding of decks under railway tracks)
- Salvarem (services for the nuclear industry)
Damaged by an earthquake in 1999 while still under construction, this viaduct on the Anatolia motorway is repaired using innovative methods developed and implemented by Freyssinet.
Second bridge on the Orinoco River (Venezuela)
Acquisition of Nukem (services for the nuclear industry)
Minsk sport arena (Belarus): first cable structure in Belarus made of stay cables supporting the stadium’s roof.
Freyssinet Inc. is created in the United States (the brand is previously promoted via a licensee)
Creation of Nuvia (services for the nuclear industry)
Dubai metro (United Arab Emirates): Freyssinet builds the overground branches of Dubai metro, with the construction and installation of 16,469 prestressed segments.
Golden Ears bridge (Canada)
Renovation works and full replacement of the existing post-tensioning system on Hammersmith flyover
Other main projects:
- Térénez bridge (France)
- British Columbia Place Stadium (Canada)
- Olkiluoto EPR (Finland)
The Russky Island bridge (Russia) sets a new world record in span length for cable-stayed bridges.
Other main projects:
- Geo Geum bridge (South Korea)
- Retrofit of Illigan cement plant (Philippines)
MUCEM Museum in Marseille (France): The complex and innovative system for casting, assembling and post-tensioning tree-shaped concrete columns is the key to bringing to life the architect’s vision for a new national museum in Marseille.
Other main projects:
- Haliç extradosed bridge (Turkey)
- MLC Tower (Australia)
- Agigea bridge (Romania)
Pont d’Arc cavern (France): Works of art in the Chauvet cave are reproduced to create the biggest replica cave in the world. Freyssinet is responsible for building the metal structure to recreate the space inside the cave, for spraying landscaping mortar onto the structure and for building technical and visitor walkways.
Other main projects:
- Constantine Trans-Rhumel viaduct (Algeria)
- Dong Siri oil platform (Denmark)
Eolift® system aimed at building high wind towers from the ground up by assembling and lifting precast concrete sections.
- ElevArch Masonry bridge jacking (UK)
- Railway line from Birtouta to Zeralda (Algeria)
- La Pepa bridge (Spain)
Cable-stayed roof of the Volgograd Stadium (Russia)
Viaduct from Tuen Mun to Chek Lap Kok – TMCLK (Hong Kong): Freyssinet installs the precast segmental deck, the prestressing by post-tensioning, the expansion joints and the bearings.
Lian Tang 3 cross-boundary bridge (Hong Kong): complex highway motorway interchange for which Freyssinet is responsible for installing the deck (precast segments) and prestressing by post-tensioning (over 1,500 tons in total).
Atlantic bridge (Panama): The Atlantic bridge is a cable-stayed bridge with the world’s longest concrete central span (530 metres). Freyssinet installs cable stays on the main structure and prestressing on the approach ramps and the main structure.
New Coastal Road Viaduct (Reunion Island, France)
Rande bridge (Spain): Widening of a heavily trafficked bridge, supplying 80 stay cables to support the addition of two decks connected to the existing structure.
Mesches dam (France): repair works, notably repointing the stonework to seal the upper part and applying a 1,800 m2 shotcrete facing on the lower part of the dam.
Kpémé wharf (Togo)
Add-on options for stay cables : lightning protection option, de-icing systems, LED lighting
Renovation of Larona Canal by CARPI (Indonesia): In just 8 weeks, Freyssinet’s subsidiary specializing in waterproofing, lines the sinuous 7 km-long canal
Widening and strengthening of the Y bridge (Vietnam): Freyssinet is contracted to widen the deck by 1.9 metres and increase the truck weight limit from 13 to 18 tons.
Koschiusko bridge, New York (United States)
- New injection grout: controlled injection of cable ducts for long-term corrosion protection
- High density carbon fiber fabric