Concrete has sat at the centre of architecture for centuries and has been a fundamental building block for foundations of buildings for a long time – thanks to its economic, robust and versatile nature. Concrete is essentially a mixture of cement, water and agriculture.
When the paste is hydrated, it can be moulded into any desired shape before naturally hardening, forming the hard, stonelike substance which we build things and create things from.
One of the most notable qualities for concrete is that it can be moulded into basically any shape you can think of.
We make concrete worktops and sinks because of the demand, but we can actually create almost anything you can imagine from concrete.
Some of the most popular applications for architectural concrete include countertops, sinks, tubs, panels for walls, stairways, tiles, fireplaces and outdoor landscaping elements and sculptures.
Despite these very different visual and functionality differences, many applications follow very similar manufacturing principles. Therefore, a concrete design studio can usually create any object out of concrete.
Concrete surface design process
Precast concrete is manufactured by casting the concrete into a mould, which we then cure in a controlled environment. This is then taken to a construction site and then lifted up into place. Casts can also be reused, to create multiple instances of the same model of the product.
Aesthetic manipulation of cast concrete
Believe it or not, this extends far beyond just colour pigment, including custom colour development – offering endless design possibilities. When an architect is looking for a custom colour, we’ll ask them to send forward a photo or sample. From this sample, we can find a similar pigment and go from there. Colours can be selected for whatever the project needs.
The mould can be cast to create different shapes, patterns as well as surface textures. Common materials can include the likes of timber boards, plywood, metals and plastics, as well as foams and fabric. Board formed concrete is a popular design finish, this is where the shape and pattern of wood I left imprinted on the concrete. Different woods carry their own grains and textures – allowing a spiritual transference of the wood’s DNA.
Where two sides of concrete slabs meet there will need to be a seem – it’s integral that you discuss this with your manufacturer, and we can discuss whether you would like to expose or conceal the seams.
Surface processing, Curing
Once the concrete has been cured, the appearance of the surface can be changed through alterations to the surface. This includes polishing, grinding, and honing. These can often give a smooth sheen to concrete, other processes include sandblasting or washing.
Sometimes things such as gemstones and fossils can be inlaid into the surface itself.
Many various chemical sealants with the express purpose of defending the concrete against the likes of stains, corrosion or surface damage. This can protect against any changes. However, it’s worth considering that many people choose concrete because it is a ‘living material’ and therefore develops a patina over time.
Concrete is however easy to maintain when it has been sealed, simply wash them with non-abrasive soaps and water, and just need periodic waxing.