Concrete’s back! But did it ever really go away?

#139 [01:02:12] | 25.10.2016 | 0 comments

Last Wednesday, World Architecture News hosted a fascinating panel discussion at UK Construction Week on the hot topic of the day: concrete. Chairing the discussion was Michael Hammond, WAN’s Editor in Chief, and sharing thought-provoking observations and opinion from the panel were experts in the field, Simon Anson, Associate at Arup Associates; Robert Fry, Managing Director – International of Aukett Swanke Architects; Jason Parker, Partner at MAKE Architects, and Elaine Toogood, Senior Architect at The Concrete Centre.

Michael kicked off the exchange of ideas by describing how although concrete was a champion in the reconstruction of post-war Britain, it later lost favour with architects and the public at large, rendering brutalist buildings the ‘endangered elephants of the post-war era’.

Things could not be more different now. As Jason Parker put it: “Concrete is where it’s at. Concrete’s got soul.” MAKE’s London studio is in a former NCP car park! In short, concrete is appearing (or reappearing) everywhere and becoming more and more diverse in its incarnations and uses.

Elaine Toogood concurs. One of the greatest challenges she faces in her role of promoting the use of concrete is trying to be everywhere at once, such is the demand among the construction industry for new information as the material continues to evolve.

So what has caused this massive swell of ‘concrete love’? What made it fall from grace in the first place, and why have attitudes now swung back the other way so dramatically? Did concrete ever really disappear or has it simply been hidden away, biding its time backstage for its grand re-entry?

Everyone present at the seminar got to hear some truly enlightening views on these questions and many more. But for those who couldn’t be there, here’s an unmissable chance to access the discussion by listening in to our specially recorded podcast here.

Gail Taylor
Features Editor

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