Concrete Architecture

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Blog writer and Playwright, Communications and Media student.

Modern architecture is mainly characterized by simple forms, the absence of decoration, and the creation of beautiful shapes by the structural elements themselves. The term implies multiple architectural movements and styles, some of which are related while others are distinct. In the 20th century, architecture advanced with the use of new materials (steel, reinforced concrete, etc.) and the incredible inventiveness of new structures, creating buildings with completely new functions and various shapes. 

One of the most notable styles of modern architecture is concrete architecture. This architecture is different, innovative and modern. It provokes, inspires and intrigues. Concrete architecture is unconventional and completely different from all other styles, movements and techniques.

The concrete architecture buildings can look like elastic, vibrating concave-convex facade surfaces. The surreal impression is caused by “playing“ with concrete (often with many varieties and irregularities), which seem to be the result of some kind of natural deposition or grinding in living rock. 

It is no wonder that concrete is one of the most widely used materials in the world, considering it is an organic and flexible structure that blends with nature. It looks like the concrete alone is enough – the architect can create extraordinary projects with it and achieve stunning results.

For example, Le Corbusier’s most revolutionary building is its Notre Dame du Haut church in Ronchamp, France. A church of irrational design, massive walls that twist like paper, a roof that looks like a huge hat or a halved boat, and tiny periodic openings that from the inside, create a wonderful (divine) play of light. It was designed in 1967. Since then, concrete architecture has evolved and now it is possible to find more liquid shapes and forms, sometimes defying all apparent rules.

Another astonishing example comes from architect Anthony Gibbons. He wanted to explore the possibilities of the Mobius Strip. Mobius Strip is a surface that consists of only one side and of one boundary. This surface, which is formed by a rectangular strip by rotating one side 180 degrees and gluing to the opposite side, is used for designing the concrete facade of the residential building.

Mobius strip surface translated into the sculptural concrete house by Antony Gibbon

The architect in this project uses a mathematical pattern to create a circular facade with a centralized, open interior. As the concrete shell rotates and opens upwards, the basic building has floor-to-ceiling windows, and the main door leads from the large living room to the surrounding crescent-shaped pool. In the center of the building is a circular kitchen with skylights that give it unobstructed natural light.

Gibbon suggests that the design should not be clearly different from nature, rather framed by it. He has visualized a conceptual house called Twine, which lies beneath a wave-shaped concrete piece in a landscape of rolling hills. The house is divided into two parts. The living and kitchen areas are separated from the bedrooms by a covered terrace. The triangular openings towards the terrace serve as accesses to the two areas of the house. Above, there is a flat roof that offers both space solar panels to generate energy at the outer ends of the structure, as well as to a whirlpool and spa in the central roof area.