With its wide range of applications and cosmetic properties, concrete is having a moment in the world of architecture. Today, thanks to the ever-moving stream of innovation in concrete production and application, optimal results are now the norm rather than the exception. For architects and builders alike, concrete is an opportunity to explore and experiment with tones and textures, ensuring that there is something for every design and project.
Concrete: The Latest Architecture and News
Peter Zumthor, in one of his most emblematic works, gives concrete an almost sacred dimension. The work in question is the small Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, located in a small village in Germany, a construction that is both robust and sensitive. Built with white cement, which was mixed with stones and sand from the region, the chapel is composed of 24 layers of concrete that were poured day after day by local labor, and compressed in an unusual way. The building's flat and smooth exterior contrasts with its interior, which was initially made of inclined wooden logs forming a triangular void. To remove these internal forms, the logs were set on fire in a controlled process, reducing them to ash and creating a carbonized interior that varied between black and gray and retained the texture of the negatives of the logs. The result is a masterpiece of architecture, a space for reflection and transformation, in which the same material appears in diametrically opposing ways.
It's no secret that concrete has one of the highest CO2 emissions of all building materials, making it a focal point for architects looking to innovate and experiment with it as a way to optimize its production and application in construction while decreasing its environmental impact. This exploration of elements such as concrete's thermal inertia, which could serve to make buildings more energy efficient, as well as its durability, which guarantees a long-lasting, zero- maintenance structure even in the most extreme of climates. The ultimate goal is to create luminous living spaces with natural ventilation while simultaneously exploring the possibility of reusing frameworks as a way of cutting costs and streamlining the building process.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, the use of raw materials can save resources by bypassing the use of additional coatings and processes. This type of solution was most commonly used in utility buildings, such as infrastructure, factories, and warehouses. Exposed concrete floors, for example, were primarily found in industrial spaces, parking lots, and gas stations. However, they are increasingly being used in structures of different programs due to their appearance, durability, resistance, and vast possibilities for finishes. But what are the main factors to be aware of when using a concrete floor for a project?
Having been utilized as early as the Roman era in buildings of almost every scale, it is almost impossible to think of a building that does not have at least one concrete element. In fact, it is the most widely used construction material in the world, due to its versatility, resistance, ease of handling, accessibility, aesthetics, and other factors. At the same time, its manufacture is also one of the main polluters in the atmosphere, mainly due to the fact that the cement industry emits around 8% of all global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
In addition to its intensive production, concrete is an extremely rigid material, heavy and composed of cement, water, stone, and sand. Thus, would it be possible to continue to use concrete sustainably after demolition, eliminating its disposal as mere waste and overloading landfills?
The Tehran Eye is a contextual shopping center that caters to the needs and the common living practices in the Iranian capital. The project, conceived by Farshad Mehdizadeh Design, consisted of redesigning a façade and reorganizing a large existing structure into an integrated entity in the city.
Concrete is not purely a structural element. As we demonstrated in a recent article about kitchen projects using concrete countertops, the material is gaining significant traction in the world of residential furnishings and fixtures. To further exemplify this, we have curated a list of several projects that use concrete benches to create beautiful moments inside and outside the home.
August Komendant (1906–1992) was an Estonian-American structural engineer, whose collaboration with famous architects and engineers resulted in several 20th-century architectural masterpieces. His professional career spanned more than half a century from the 1930s to 1980s and coincided with an era characterised by modernisation, urbanisation and the rapid development of technology.
By the middle of the century, reinforced concrete had become one of the most popular structural materials for building a new living environment. A strong and durable composite emerges when liquid concrete, a mix of water, cement and aggregate (sand, gravel, crushed stone, etc.), solidifies around the reinforcing steel bars. Concrete
Last April, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced plans to introduce a bill that would ban the construction of new all-glass buildings. Part of a larger effort to reduce citywide greenhouse emissions by 30 percent, other initiatives included using clean energy to power city operations, mandatory organics recycling, and reducing single-use plastic and processed meat purchases. The announcement came on the heels of the city council passing the Climate Mobilization Act, a sweeping response to the Paris Climate Agreement that included required green roofs on new constructions and emissions reductions on existing buildings.
Gone are the days when the kitchen was relegated to a service area. Following the traditional system of bourgeois residential tripartition (dividing the house into social, intimate, and service areas), the kitchen was originally designed as an independent and closed space. Today, more and more, projects seek to integrate and relate it to other rooms in the house, facilitating different interactions among its residents. Due to this transformation, the appearance of the kitchen also changed, and traditional ceramic and stone cladding gave way to new materials.
Due to its ability to mold and create different shapes, concrete is one of architecture's most popular materials. While one of its most common uses is as a humble foundation, its plasticity means that it is also used in almost all types of construction, from housing to museums, presenting a variety of details of work that deserves special attention.
Check out this collection of 40 projects that highlight the use of concrete. Impressive!
Flying Panels - How Concrete Panels Changed the World is a new ArkDes exhibition designed by Note Design Studio and curated by Pedro Ignacio Alonso and Hugo Palmarola - authors of the Monolith Controversies exhibition, the winner of the Silver Lion award at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014.
It brings together a series models and material as posters, paintings, films, toys, cartoons and opera sets are gathered to reflect on how concrete panels influenced culture for the construction of a new society.
Concrete is the second-most used material on earth. It is also the second-largest emitter of CO2, with cement manufacturing accounting for 5 to 7 percent of annual emissions. The continued popularity of concrete as a material of choice in the design and construction industry, coupled with increasing unease of the environmental consequences, has put concrete firmly in the spotlight of innovation and experimentation. As a result, designers, architects, and researchers around the world are generating multiple visions for what the future of concrete in architecture could look like.
Experimenting with a very rigid material, Antony Gibbon imagines a residential project where the outer concrete shell twists and turns, in order to create livable spaces. With a very basic function, the proposal is an invitation to push technical boundaries and unleash the imagination.