“Writers operate through words,
Sculptors through deeds”.
Pomponius Gauricus, De Sculptura (c. 1504)
This liquid stone we call concrete has the power to create limitless formal abstractions in architecture. Unbounded by material scale, it’s mythic allure lacks the immediate visual recognition of traditional building materials such as brick or stone. Its timeless sculptural character has integrity which only yields when compared to the ancient stone temples and the monoliths of our ancestors.
Concrete is cool because it presents itself as an existential material, unburdened and free of ideologies and human provocations. It appears effortless yet indestructible, ubiquitous and omnipresent. It can appear visually both brutal or dreamy. Its haptics can be silk or coarse.
A universe of potentiality is opened up for this material through technology, process, craft and knowledge. Concrete expresses its constructed history and makers mark through a deep alchemy via a transmutation that appears almost magical. Its raw character presences forth through a combination of the physical and metaphysical. The phenomenological value of concrete exists in the measurable and immeasurable, in the esoteric knowledge of formwork, tie holes and release agents.
The image above is taken from Edge House in West Wales, our latest low energy home now nearing completion. The fair-faced finish represents the formal abstraction of the new home. The lower sand-blasted board shuttered element references the height and intense shift in detail of an adjacent stone wall. A subtle gesture that shows an awareness of historical context.
Concrete exists for us as poetic matter. A canvas for the amplification of meanings and a medium to elicit human emotion.