Concrete architecture is often associated with cold, dreary, heartless, foreboding, institutional buildings. This ancient building material, first used by the Romans when used correctly, can appear to be lighter than air. Concrete buildings can welcome you to experience spaces in new ways. No other building material fuses form and function, with sculpture-like qualities.
Buildings that are chiefly constructed with concrete can be transformed into much more than just depressing factory buildings, warehouses or formed blocks used as housing foundations. In the right hands, the material has been used to create some of the world’s most amazing and iconic structures. Here are a few concrete buildings from the Salk Institute in California to the Los Manantiales Restaurant in Mexico. These are just a few examples of how concrete has been used for the betterment of architectural design.
Brutalist Concrete Buildings
Concrete is an integral component of Brutalist architecture, which centres around a reverence for materials and the combination of geometric elements to create an overall form. Concrete appeals to Brutalist architects as it displays and celebrates the imperfections of the form rather than trying to hide them. This focus on truthful structures is in stark contrast to Beaux-Arts, the popular architectural style of the past which was full of ornamentation and lavish decoration. It is important to remember that not all concrete buildings incorporate brutalist principles and likewise not all Brutalist structures are made out of concrete; rather, it is the collection of materials used combined with certain aesthetics that come together to define Brutalist architecture.
To get a feel for the antithesis of concrete brutalistic architecture, check out Michael Heiser’s Double Negative in the Nevada desert.
Concrete you can mold, you can press into it – after all, you haven’t any straight lines in your body. Why should we have straight lines in our architecture? You’d be surprised when you go into a room that has no straight line how marvelous it is that you can feel the walls talking back to you, as it were. ~ Philip Johnson
Famous Concrete Structures
Spinning in the Dry Riverbed of the Zayayndeh River – Isfahan, Iran
Here I am spinning in the now dry, due to damming and farm irrigation, Zayandeh River in Isfahan, Iran. The swan boats, sleeping, waiting for the next waters to wake them up. The Si-o-se-pol bridge, longing for its purpose, appears in the background of my spin. People have lived on the banks of the Zayandeh…
Spinning at the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Iran
The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, was built during the Qajar dynasty by the order of Mirza Hasan Ali Nasir al Molk in 1888, which is famous for its magnificent interior decoration. The kaleidoscopes of gorgeous colors especially in the morning when sunlight comes in through the stained glass. The mosque is known as…
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