One of the most significant buildings of the late modernist style, Le Corbusier’s Convent de la Tourette exemplifies the architect’s style and sensibilities in the latter end of his career. Built between 1956 and 1960 on a hillside near Lyon, France, the priory dominates the landscape, with its strict, geometric form.
Devnya Cement AD, a member of Italcementi Group, and Varna Design Forum invite all students of architecture and design, and all young professionals up to 35 years old from all over the world to participate in the international contest for conceptual design of a small trading pavilion, to be situated in the Seaside Park in the city of Varna. The goal is to enrich the urban design of Varna through the realization of a contemporary and inspiring concept for a trading pavilion constructed with the innovative materials of Italcementi Group. The contest will finish with the announcement of a winner selected by a five-member Jury Panel. The winner will be awarded with monetary prize, visit to the "i.lab" research center in Italy and realization of their project as a real-size prototype.
Situated on the peak of Bergisel Mountain above the picturesque alpine city of Innsbruck, Austria, the Bergisel Ski Jump represents the contemporary incarnation of a historic landmark. Designed by Zaha Hadid between 1999 and 2002, the Ski Jump is a study in formal expression: its sweeping lines and minimalist aesthetic create a sense of graceful, high-speed motion, reflecting the dynamic sensation of a ski jump in a monumental structure that stands above the historic center of Innsbruck and the mountain slopes around.
Buildings and cityscapes – or the lack thereof – change the way we hear significantly. Acousticians and acoustic engineers are often hired to solve problems with sound leakage, but few people consider the difference between a shout across a city block and the same shout down a closed hallway. In this video, the differences in sound quality in various environments are compared, as the “Wikisinger” performs the same song in 15 places.
Cycling between places like a cathedral, a field in front of oil naves, a concrete tunnel, an abandoned attic and a silence chamber, the acoustic differences between each space are made clear as the song reverberates or lands flatly against the walls surrounding it. Splicing and augmenting the different sounds of each place, the singer creates a kind of orchestra of architecture, inviting listeners to take a second to hear the buildings around them.
Although Zaha Hadid began her remarkable architectural career in the late 1970s, it would not be until the 1990s that her work would lift out her drawings and paintings to be realized in physical form. The Vitra Fire Station, designed for the factory complex of the same name in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany, was the among the first of Hadid’s design projects to be built. The building’s obliquely intersecting concrete planes, which serve to shape and define the street running through the complex, represent the earliest attempt to translate Hadid’s fantastical, powerful conceptual drawings into a functional architectural space.
This episode of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, examines the changing use and role of "one of the most simultaneously decried and admired materials in twentieth century architecture:" concrete. Exploring the "unlikely revival of a polarising product" in the cultural perception of many, this cheap, abundant and energy-hungry resource is studied as one of the most prolific and diverse building materials in history.
It's no secret that among the architecture profession's biggest sources of guilt is our reliance on concrete in a huge number of the buildings that we have a hand in creating. Architects are more likely than most to be aware of the environmental implications of the material, and yet we continue to use it at an alarming rate. But what alternatives are there in order to do our job? In an article for Forbes, Laurie Winkless runs down a list of three alternatives that stand a good chance of changing the face of concrete construction.
Concrete is one of the most widely innovated and improved upon building technologies in the world. With applications in both pre-fabrication and continuous pouring, the material has become a hot-bed for applications in fabrication techniques, from incredible, monolithic forms, to 3D-printing.
But behind all of the successes, there have been countless failures, including a well-intended innovation by famous American inventor Thomas Edison. Filed on August 13, 1908, Edison’s ill-fated patent was a home that could be built with a single pour of concrete, reports Slate. Although Thomas Edison had previous ventures in concrete, including a cement plant in Stewartsville, New Jersey, as well as several patented improvements in the cement-making process, his venture into concrete construction may have just been too ambitious.
“Concrete has the ability to be primitive and technological, massive and levitating, to combine the properties of steel with those of mud,” says Rowan Moore in his list of The 10 best concrete buildings created for The Guardian. Through examples spanning three continents, Moore unites old standbys with unexpected wonders, all of which show the varied possibilities inherent in mixing water, aggregate, and cement. In a list that incorporates examples from Classical times to the present, Moore establishes concrete’s unique ability to adapt to different times, styles, applications, and treatments.
Examples by Le Corbusier, Álvaro Siza, Lina Bo Bardi, and Marcel Breuer demonstrate that concrete is anything but workaday or utilitarian. Moore’s list affirms that a material simultaneously strong and light, durable, sustainable, and fire-resistant, can scarcely be considered anything short of miraculous. Of course, ten buildings can only provide an abridged version of concrete’s possibilities, and Moore cheekily apologizes for some of the obvious omissions. Check out the full list here.
Four Masters students from Bartlett School of Architecture - Francesca Camilleri, Nadia Doukhi, Alvaro Lopez Rodriguez and Roman Strukov - have developed a new method for 3D printing large-scale, self-supporting concrete structures. With their project Fossilised, the team, known as Amalgamma, combined two existing concrete 3D printing methods - the extrusion printing method and the powder printing method - to create a form of supported extrusion that allows for "more volumetric" concrete structures.
"The supported extrusion method has therefore presented the opportunity to design forms that are more varied and more volumetric, as opposed to the very straight vertical forms so far achieved in 3D concrete practice," says Amalgamma.
"All we need now are a new generation of Martian architects to design buildings made of Martian concrete that will be suitable structures for humans to live and work in," concludes the MIT Technology Review in their report on a new type of concrete designed for use on Mars.
Developed by scientists led by Lin Wan at Northwestern University, this "Martian concrete" is just one of many scientific developments that will be required for the increasingly popular goal of sending humans to, and eventually colonizing, the Red Planet (apparently the un-colonized Moon is already old hat - just ask Matt Damon).
One of the defining images of the 2014 Venice Biennale came from Rem Koolhaas' "Elements of Architecture" exhibition, where a section of a suspended false ceiling, replete with ducts and wiring, was dramatically juxtaposed with the soaring domed ceiling of the Giardini's central pavilion. The gesture was intended as a criticism of architecture's reduction to mere surface treatment - but to the makers of Holedeck, a structural system which recently won CTBUH's 2015 Tall Building Innovation Award, the sins of the typical concrete slab and suspended ceiling are much more far-reaching.
Holedeck's concrete slab system claims to use 55% less concrete than a standard concrete slab, making it significantly more environmentally friendly than standard concrete structures, while reducing the thickness of floor plates to allow a greater number of floors in tall buildings.
Designed by Félix Guyon of Les Ateliers Guyon in Verchères, Quebec, "Sails Benches" is a monument to the original founding families of Verchères, commissioned by the municipality. Having worked in Montreal for many years, Guyon returned to his native village for this personal project, which was selected as the winning design of the Furniture Category at the World Interiors Awards 2015 in London, "charming" the judges with the personal narrative and sensitivity of his Sail Benches, according to a press release. Read more about the project after the break.
“As space begins to be captured, enclosed, molded, and organized by the elements of mass and volume, architecture comes into being.”
With influential concrete buildings like Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, and Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light in mind, Mumbai-based Material Immaterial studio has created SPACES, a set of miniature concrete pieces. “Each piece is an individually complete space defined by volumes and voids,” offering the basis for users to imagine what could be lying inside.
Using an innovative method of casting concrete in lightweight fabric molds, the architects of Orkidstudio -- along with StructureMode -- teamed up with a group of Khmer women in Sihanoukville, Cambodia to rebuild a community centre in the city’s urban heart.
The construction technique was developed and tested by engineers from StructureMode using a combination of physical testing and computer analysis software, Oasys GSA Suite, to predict the stretch of a particular fabric when concrete is poured inside. Through three-dimensional sketches the seamstresses and building team could understand the construction sequence of the form, completing the entire project in just eight weeks.
Concrete has long had a close relationship with the earth; as the favorite material for the creation of building foundations, one of its most common uses is effectively as a more reliable replacement for soil. In the twentieth century, concrete’s ability to transform our interaction with the ground was taken to the next step. As architects and engineers explored the opportunities offered by a combination of reinforced concrete and the modernist mindset, multiple attempts were made to replace the ground in a more dramatic way: by creating a new ground, separated from the earth itself. Most widespread among these plans was the engineer’s elevated highway which emerged worldwide, and the most relevant to architects the “streets in the sky” embodied by developments such as the Smithsons’ Robin Hood Gardens. Newcastle-upon-Tyne offers a city-wide example of this theory, embarking on an ambitious plan to become the “Brasilia of the North” by creating an elevated network of pedestrian routes entirely separated from the automobiles below - though the project was abandoned in the 1970s with only small sections implemented.
After Modernism’s dramatic fall from grace in the 1970s and 80s, this project to reinterpret the ground with concrete was largely forgotten. Of course architects still used concrete in their designs, but they were content with a purely traditional relationship to the ground: their buildings were discrete entities which sat upon the earth, and nothing more. However, as explored at length in Stan Allen and Marc McQuade’s 2011 book Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain, recent years have shown architects willing to work upon the ground once again, in new and exciting ways. In the years since Landform Building’s publication, this trend has only intensified, as demonstrated by the following three projects.
Long touted for its strength and versatility, concrete has had an integral role in construction and design as far back as the Roman times. And in recent years, concrete’s potential has reached new heights, with many companies developing innovative uses and applications for the material, ranging from concrete reinforced with bamboo to ultra-porous concrete and concrete cloth.
Held annually, the CEMEX Building Awards recognize architecture and construction projects from around the world that use concrete technologies in creative and innovative ways, with a focus on sustainable design and social well-being. We spoke with three of the architecture firms behind winning designs of the 2014 CEMEX Building Awards to see how concrete influenced their design and why they believe concrete to be an important construction material.
DITTEL | ARCHITEKTEN GmbH has created Pop Up Box, a convertible retail space located in a shopping center in Stuttgart, Germany. With its cube design, the Box serves as a self-contained, customizable presentation area, where retailers can move three of the four pieces to create his or her own sales space.