Why concrete is the best material for stunning architecture
From monumental museums to striking structures, our durable concrete friend always delivers a solid performance when it comes to architecture.
We all know the practical benefits of using concrete when building, but you may be surprised to realise that sometimes the most striking and unusual buildings are made of concrete.
Could you name the world’s first renowned concrete structure? If you guessed the iconic dome of the Pantheon in Rome which was completed in AD128, you are right! Despite its age, the Pantheon is still breath-taking in every which way. Roman concrete was based on a hydraulic-setting cement and was known for its durability (which was helped further by the incorporation of volcanic ash)
If iconic is the name of the game, then the Sydney Opera House surely must be awarded the same honour? The Opera House which was built in 1973 is certainly one of the most notable examples of modern expressionist architecture.
Architects are continuing to use concrete to create works of art that are talked about all over the world. For example, if we look at the National Museum of Brazil, you will see Oscar Niemeyer’s architectural creation that resembles a planet embedded in the ground, with the other half of the sphere created by a reflection in an adjacent pool.
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s auditorium in the Canary Islands creates an arresting figure against the Atlantic Ocean. Inside, a performance space is enclosed by abstract curving forms.
Other notable concrete buildings include:
Fallingwater in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. This house has been escalated into a national historic landmark thanks to its use of an adventurous cantilever design using reinforced concrete.
The Lotus Temple in Delhi whose design was inspired by the lotus flower which features a concrete dome covered by 27 petals made of white marble.
With the worldwide readymix concrete market being valued at £127bn per year, concrete is worth more than all other buildings materials put together.
With concrete having an increasingly popular presence in internal and external architecture, there has never been a better time to take advantage of this incredible material. Concrete is a contemporary, minimalist and trendy way to construct buildings and more and more architects are looking to take advantage of this. Whilst the benefits of concrete are clear, these amazing buildings demonstrate that concrete structures can be beautiful as well as utilitarian.