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  3. How 3 Award-Winning Projects Harnessed the Beauty and Power of Concrete

How 3 Award-Winning Projects Harnessed the Beauty and Power of Concrete

How 3 Award-Winning Projects Harnessed the Beauty and Power of Concrete
How 3 Award-Winning Projects Harnessed the Beauty and Power of Concrete

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. 

CR House /  H+H Arquitectos / Bogotá, Colombia; 1st. Place, International Awards, Housing

CR House / H+H Arquitectos. Image © Rodrigo Dávila
CR House / H+H Arquitectos. Image © Rodrigo Dávila

ArchDaily: In terms of materiality, how did the use of concrete add architectural value to your work?

H+H Arquitectos: Architectonic concrete becomes the protagonist in architecture that is sincere and polished, yet dynamic and expressive at the same time. It makes the structural system clear, yet at the same time turns it into a casing. The richness of concrete allows for the formwork to imprint a texture on the façade, defining its aesthetic. The material’s structural qualities also bring a richness to the social space, creating a vaulted area that is 12 meters long, and free of support, which enables a direct relationship with the view and spatial integration with the garden. To protect the interior from the sun and the terraces from the rain, large overhanging eaves in exposed concrete were built. These elements add both functionality and aesthetics to the volume. On the interior walls, paintings vividly stand out with concrete as the background material. Overall, concrete is an excellent material, being both versatile and expressive.

CR House / H+H Arquitectos. Image © Rodrigo Dávila
CR House / H+H Arquitectos. Image © Rodrigo Dávila

ArchDaily: What significance did it have for your office to be awarded a CEMEX Building Award? Did it lead to any new opportunities?

H+H Arquitectos: Thanks to the Award, as well as the project's publication in multiple places, we are frequently sought out for designs that feature exposed concrete. We’re identified with proficient use of the material. We have been able to take advantage of the qualities of concrete as an aesthetic material in the architecture that we develop.

CR House / H+H Arquitectos. Image © Rodrigo Dávila
CR House / H+H Arquitectos. Image © Rodrigo Dávila

ArchDaily: What do you think about new constructive solutions (like concrete cloth and using bamboo to reinforce concrete) that are bringing concrete in new forms to contemporary architecture? 

H+H Arquitectos: The possibilities are enormous. Recent developments have made concrete more versatile and expressive, as we mentioned earlier. In our case, as an innovation for our environment, we use the Hidratium additive to replace traditional wet-curing concrete  We believe that it’s important to utilize as much as possible the qualities of a material in order to create architecture that constantly proposes solutions that add value and gives rise to change and continuous improvement. 

Sport City Oaxaca / Rootstudio + Arquitectos Artesanos / Oaxaca, Mexico; 1st. Place, International Awards, Sustainable Building

Sport City Oaxaca / Rootstudio + Arquitectos Artesanos. Image © Angel Ivan Valdivia Salazar
Sport City Oaxaca / Rootstudio + Arquitectos Artesanos. Image © Angel Ivan Valdivia Salazar

ArchDaily: In terms of materiality, how did the use of concrete add architectural value to your work?

Rootstudio: The contrast of natural materials was integral to our design and important aesthetically. The formwork was important so that the concrete could have a certain finish that we sought for different areas of the project. On a technical level, it also adds value to the project in terms of reinforcements, parking and foundation

Sport City Oaxaca / Rootstudio + Arquitectos Artesanos. Image © Fidel Ugarte
Sport City Oaxaca / Rootstudio + Arquitectos Artesanos. Image © Fidel Ugarte

ArchDaily: What significance did it have for your office to be awarded a CEMEX Building Award? Did it lead to any new opportunities?

Rootstudio: The happiness of seeing an award go to a project full of contrasts; a project that involved a lot of people, technology and craftsmanship, professionals and friends with a love for the work, with interdisciplinary teams, cooperating, all of that made the work enjoyable. Naturally it opened doors, not only because of the Award, but also because the project itself put us on a level that we hadn’t reached before; the opportunity to collaborate with a professional company like Sportcity and the trust of the Harp Helu Oaxaca foundation -- all of this together gave us the possibility to grow in the world of architecture and design.

Sport City Oaxaca / Rootstudio + Arquitectos Artesanos. Image © Fidel Ugarte
Sport City Oaxaca / Rootstudio + Arquitectos Artesanos. Image © Fidel Ugarte

ArchDaily: What do you think about new constructive solutions (like concrete cloth and using bamboo to reinforce concrete ) that are bringing concrete in new forms to contemporary architecture? 

Rootstudio: There is still so much to explore with the mixture of bamboo and concrete in terms of design and technique. The use of bamboo as a reinforcement for concrete is very advanced in countries like Colombia and Brazil, and in Mexico we have a large and interesting opportunity to explore this area. Within Rootstudio we are developing technology that fuses the two materials to achieve technical solutions for some of the projects that we are designing. 

Casa Narigua / David Pedroza Castañeda / Nuevo León, Mexico; 1st Place, National Awards, Housing

Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa
Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa

ArchDaily: In terms of materiality, how did the use of concrete add architectural value to your work?

David Pedroza Castañeda: The relationship of the volumes of Casa Narigua, interconnected for improved structural performance, mandated a unitary material solution. The house should be seen as a rock that emerges from the landscape. We felt that concrete was the ideal solution because with it we could create an artificial rock; with small variations in tone and texture typical of manufacturing, without losing the unity of the continuous material. CEMEX made it possible for the concrete to have a reddish, ochre color that from far away makes the house disappear, while up close helps to establish a dialogue with the environment.

Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa
Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa

ArchDaily: What significance did it have for your office to be awarded a CEMEX Building Award? Did it lead to any new opportunities?

David Pedroza Castañeda: The CEMEX award gave the office a boost that helped to solidify several projects that had not yet been finalized. It also gave us more credibility in the eyes of some of our clients. We feel that some of our proposals have been taken more seriously after receiving the award and we have had more creative freedom after receiving such a significant endorsement. 

Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa
Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa

ArchDaily: What do you think about new constructive solutions (like concrete cloth and using bamboo to reinforce concrete ) that are bringing concrete in new forms to contemporary architecture? 

David Pedroza Castañeda: Although we have not yet had the chance to propose solutions using these constructive solutions, we believe they have great potential. Bamboo as reinforcement should thoroughly be studied in countries where steel is produced on a large scale because the amount of energy that goes into processing bamboo is significantly less than that required to produce steel. It is important to promote these types of proposals that generate a more sustainable use of concrete to make projects that have greater technological needs a reality, in the most respectful way possible to the environment.

Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa
Narigua House / David Pedroza Castañeda. Image © Sofia Flores Chapa

The concrete cloth, in addition to the uses already shown for creating emergency shelters, also presents very interesting opportunities when it comes to creating laminated structures. The 2015 Pritzker prize has brought volumetric exploration from past years back to the table, opening a world of formal and technological possibilities where concrete fabric may have interesting applications. The existence of technologies, like concrete fabric, can support new solutions that allow for the implementation of the formal explorations from past decades in the construction of buildings in precarious conditions. 

ArchDaily has partnered with CEMEX, a global leader in the building materials industry, to bring you an industry perspective into the latest advances that are relevant to architects. To see more award-winning projects, see our full coverage of the CEMEX Building Award

About this author
Katie Watkins
Author
Cite: Katie Watkins. "How 3 Award-Winning Projects Harnessed the Beauty and Power of Concrete" 26 Oct 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/775856/how-3-award-winning-projects-harnessed-the-beauty-and-power-of-concrete/> ISSN 0719-8884

三个获奖项目成功展现混凝土的美与力量之道