What makes the color black so enticing for architects? Projects made in black concrete are both striking and complex in their design and are gaining widespread appeal in contemporary projects, both public and private. What we don’t know is just how hard it is to create black concrete in the first place. We spoke with Attilio Panzeri & Partners who have mastered the craft - and here’s what we learned:
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This article is part of our series "Material in Focus", where we ask architects to share with us their creative process through the choice of materials that define important parts of the construction of their buildings.
Alagoas House used neutral colors and furnishings in order to let local craftsmanship stand out. Some of the strategies that guided the projects included using works by regional artists and decorating with repurposed everyday objects. We spoke with architect João Duayer of Tavares Duayer Arquitetura to learn more about the choice of materials and the determining role that they played in his concept for this project.
Physical models have, for centuries, been a highly-effective way of explaining an architectural idea, allowing the audience to experience a concept in a plan, section, elevation and perspective all at once. However, a model can communicate so much more if you deviate from traditional cardboard materiality. If you want to express the monolithic massing of your latest scheme, or its expressive texture, then a model of plaster or cement may capture so much more than a digital rendering ever could.
Creating a concrete model is profoundly engaging, as it forces us to follow a methodology similar to that of large-scale construction: make a mold / formwork, mix the cement or plaster with water, and then pour. When done correctly, the resulting model could stand as an architectural sculpture in its own right.
Below, we have rounded up concrete models from the ArchDaily archives, giving you the inspiration to set your concrete model ideas in stone.
One of architecture’s most delightful anomalies is the diversity of solutions generated by any given site. From hypothetical university projects by architecture students to professional international design competition entries, the differing perspectives, stances, and experiences brought to rest on one site by several design teams can wield a bounty of contrasting ideas.
Recently, we reported on Nestinbox, a proposal by Swedish architecture firm Manofactory to attach a series of simple, functional houses to a cliff face in Stockholm, addressing the demands of increased populations and land prices in cities across the world. Now, the cliffs of Stockholm have been the subject of an entirely different, though just as evocative concept by Swedish firm UMA. Rather than private housing, UMA proposes the Stockholm Infinity Pool, a public pool 1km along the Sodermalm cliffs of Sweden’s capital.
The Chair of Innovative Construction Materials (CIMC) with the Higher School of Architecture of Málaga and Financiera y Minera S.A. announce the II International Ideas Competition for architects and students of architecture in their graduation project.
During his frequent travels to Seoul, Hong Kong- and Singapore-based photographer Raphael Olivier noticed a new trend taking the South Korean capital: a crop of geometric, concrete buildings of all genres. He calls the new style Neo-Brutalism, after the modernist movement that proliferated in the late 1950s to 1970s, in which raw concrete was meant to express a truth and honesty. Olivier's observation led him to capture the phenomenon in a personal photo series—a photographic treasure trove of these projects which, when taken as a whole, uncovers a cross-section of this trend in the city's architecture.
With the intention of maximizing available space and avoiding steep construction costs, researchers from ETH Zurich’s Department of Architecture have devised a concrete floor slab that with a thickness of a mere 2cm, remains load bearing and simultaneously sustainable. Inspired by the construction of Catalan vaults, this new floor system swaps reinforced steel bars for narrow vertical ribs, thus significantly reducing the weight of construction and ensuring stability to counter uneven distributions on its surface.
As opposed to traditional concrete floors that are evidently flat, these slabs are designed to arch to support major loads, reminiscent of the vaulted ceilings found in Gothic cathedrals. Without the need for steel reinforcing and with less concrete, the production of CO2 is minimized and the resulting 2cm floors are 70% lighter than their typical concrete counterparts.
The architectural competition for Kulbroen (the Coal Bridge) is on and teams can now apply for the pre qualification. Please note that the material is in Danish, so if foreign teams want to sign up it would be a good idea to find someone here that master the language.
The MIRAGE series is made up of concrete handles, knobs, and robe hooks, all of which aim to create character through light and shadow. Some of the pieces, with a zigzag pattern, are meant to reduce the heaviness of the concrete material, making it seem light and delicate, while other pieces are meant to express a sense of solidity.
CBack in 2006, the team of Mecanoo and Ayesa placed first in an international competition with its winning proposal for a perforated courthouse in Córdoba, combining the area’s historical character with a modern twist. Now, after almost a decade, the Palace of Justice is set for completion later this year, having broken ground in 2015.
Inspired by Córdoba’s Moorish origins, the design balances a contemporary concrete mass with traditional exterior courtyard spaces; a reflection of the plan of the old city. These are faced by colored ceramic tiles, which break the façade’s uniformity.
Adding to its regular releases of city guide maps, London-based publisher Blue Crow Media has now produced the Brutalist Paris Map, in collaboration with Nigel Green and Robin Wilson of Photolanguage. Having previously covered Washington D.C.’s most prominent Brutalist buildings, the latest map highlights over 40 Parisian examples of Brutalist architecture.
While large-scale 3D printing for architecture continues to be a busy area of research, France-based company XtreeE has been using 3D printed concrete in projects since 2015. Their latest creation is an organic truss-style support structure for a preschool playground in Aix-en-Provence.
Colored concrete is being used increasingly as a premium building material. Numerous buildings are constructed every year around the world that are colored with inorganic pigments. Specialty chemicals company LANXESS will be presenting in the third Colored Concrete Works Award in 2017 to architects who create modern architecture with colored concrete and focus on their work, the beauty and aesthetic quality of this special, natural building material.
The SOCKEEL + OLGGA consortium have won a competition to design the new Tribut Stadium in Dunkirk, France. The historic stadium, in a prominent location on a canal bank in central Dunkirk, will be transformed into a 5,000 seat stadium seeking to maximize inclusiveness and accessibility.
As the common phrase attests, “history is written by the victors.” We therefore know that the story of the West is that of Europe and the United States, while the other actors in world history are minimized or invisible: it happened to the Chinese and Japanese during World War II, to the Ottoman Empire in sixteenth-century Europe, and to racial majorities in the common reading of Latin American independence. The same thing happens in architecture.
The current boom of the Global South is based not only on new work, but rather on the recognition of an invisible architecture which was apparently not worthy of publication in the journals of the 1990s. The world stage has changed, with the emergence of a humanity that is decentralized yet local; globalized, yet heterogeneous; accelerated, yet unbalanced. There are no longer red and blue countries, but a wide variety of colors, exploding like a Pollock painting.
This serves as a preamble to consider the outstanding projects of 2016 according to the British critic Oliver Wainwright, whose map of the world appears to extend from New York in the West to Oslo in the East, with the exception of Birzeit in Palestine. The Global South represents more than 40% of the global economy and already includes most of the world’s megacities, yet has no architecture worthy of recognition? We wanted to highlight the following projects in order to expand the western-centric world view, enabling us to truly comprehend the extent of architectural innovation on a global scale.
A building’s materiality is what our bodies make direct contact with; the cold metal handle, the warm wooden wall, and the hard glass window would all create an entirely different atmosphere if they were, say, a hard glass handle, a cold metal wall and a warm wooden window (which with KTH’s new translucent wood, is not as absurd as it might sound). Materiality is of just as much importance as form, function and location—or rather, inseparable from all three.
Here we’ve compiled a selection of 16 materials that should be part of the design vocabulary of all architects, ranging from the very familiar (such as concrete and steel) to materials which may be unknown for some of our readers, as well as links to comprehensive resources to learn more about many of them.
BIG are known for unconventional buildings that often raise the question “how were they able to do that?” Such is the case for BIG’s Honeycomb, a luxury eight-story condominium currently under construction in the Bahamas. The project’s hallmark is its hexagonal façade made up of private balconies, each with its own glass-fronted outdoor pool. The façade was also the project’s greatest engineering challenge, with each balcony (including pool water) weighing between 108,000 and 269,000 pounds (48,000-122,000 kilograms) while cantilevering up to 17.5 feet (5.3 meters) from the structure. Tasked with this challenging brief were DeSimone Consulting Engineers, who previously worked with BIG on The Grove. Read on for more detail on the Honeycomb’s innovative engineering.