“Concrete is anything but grey”
Mix together water, aggregate and cement, and you will create concrete. This is often seen as one of the banalest building materials, not even as interesting as a brick wall. But when used in a creative way, concrete is anything but grey.
When concrete is used by amazing engineers, sculptors and architects, the results can be incredible. To this day, the iconic Pantheon in Rome finished in AD128 with its un-reinforced concrete done, still stands strong. It is daring and beautiful, but it is also, well, just concrete.
It’s not just about the interesting shapes concrete can mould itself so well to, creating pieces atmospheric and aesthetically grand – it is also about the feel of the material. Concrete can show the dramatic contrast from the light and the shadow it produces, it has a particular sense of power and strength. Concrete can in some way make asymmetry as beautiful as symmetry and can turn large empty spaces into engrossing mysteries.
The building world across the world is largely dominated by concrete. The ready mix concrete industry, for example, is worth £127bn each year. This is more than the values of every other main building material added together. The grey slurry pouring from these ready mix drums can create an amazing range of architectural styles.
For example, it would be near impossible to visit the thick folds of Hadid’s Municipal headquarters in Montpelier without feeling the weight of the vast amount of concrete used. The atmosphere at Chiaki Arai’s Niigata City Cultural Centre in Japan certainly creates a strange feeling too.
Where did it all begin?
The concrete world first began with the Egyptians. They produced a very early form of concrete by mixing limestone and gypsum. The Romans also had their own version, a combination of sand, volcanic ash, and lime. It was used to build many structures; bridges, buildings, aqueducts and viaducts. Being able to support 200kg of weight per square metre, you can see why it was used for nearly two centuries.
The sophistication of concrete developed when a house was building in Paris from iron-reinforced concrete in 1853. Flash forward to 1913 and the 69m wide dome ‘Centennial Hall’ in Poland was being completed, and in 1923 we saw the world-famous Notre Dame cathedral display concrete’s use in elegant architecture.
All these buildings prove the usefulness of concrete, and how in the right hands it can be very impressive indeed. If you have a concrete design idea for your home or other interior space, don’t hesitate to get in touch, and we can see what we can do for you.