From a distance, scaffolding looks like a maze of criss-crossing steel pipes that encircles a building. But peer closely and you will realize that complex and precision engineering is at work behind the lattice.

Here are some interesting facts about scaffolding:

  • It is believed that scaffolding originated in ancient North Africa and China. A Greek wine cup, also known as a kylix and dating back to the fifth century, contains an image of a statue of a warrior within a scaffolding.
  • Scaffolding today is mainly made of metal pipes. But in some parts of Asia, scaffolding is made of bamboo and is even used when building very tall skyscrapers.
  • Until the 20th century, scaffolding was made mainly of wood. However, shortages in the supply of wood in various regions prompted manufacturers to look for other sources.
  • W.A. de Vigier is credited with designing an adjustable steel prop that revolutionized scaffolding designs all over the world. This steel prop forms the basis of trench sheeting and falsework, support slab formwork, and wall formwork.
  • The most famous scaffold designer in history is probably Michelangelo, the great painter, sculptor, and architect.  The scaffold that he had designed to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a conversation piece in itself.

Would you like to know more about scaffolding? Then visit the website of Scaffold Resource, a scaffold company in Maryland that has the distinction of working at the most haloed job sites—treasured national monuments like The Jefferson and Lincoln memorials; the Chesapeake Bay Bridge; and the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court buildings.