Concrete Elegance Summer lecture: Sculptural and structural expression

A university campus extension and a contemporary office space were the focus of 14 June Concrete Elegance. Architects, engineers and designers exchanged ideas on creating innovative concrete designs, drawing from their recent work.

The projects featured were:

University of Essex Silberrad Student Centre and Library Extension, presented by Matthew Wells, director of Techniker and Myshkin Clarke Hall from Patel Taylor Architects

  ©Timothy Soar: Siberrad Student Centre and Library Extension

These latest additions to Essex university campus bring an elegant evolution to the legacy of the campus’ brutalist concrete architecture. The structure of the new student centre is dramatically expressed by long stretches of cantilevered floors projecting from the building, and culminating in a cluster of tall, slender concrete columns. The combination of local aggregates and a high proportion of GGBS gives the concrete a paler, creamy colour and a lower embodied CO2. The library extension is similarly expressive with smooth and board-marked concrete and a large, facetted external column, rising two storeys to support the four floors above. 

More information on this project can be found in Concrete Quarterly Spring 2016

Hiscox Headquarters, York, presented by Jason Parker, partner at Make Architects and Steve McKechnie, director at Arup.

Courtesy of Make Architects, Hiscox Building

By contrast the sculptural expression of the concrete in the new Hiscox headquarters in York, is only evident from inside the building. The vast span of the cast in situ concrete roof forms a smooth monolithic soffit over the entrance atrium, with a large curved roof-light opening. Ribbons of concrete stairs and balustrades meander through the space, with landings acrobatically cantilevered from the floor slabs. Even the long curved reception desk is cast in concrete. Most of the external fa├žade is brick faced, but these giant woven lattice forms are in fact also concrete, created from large horizontal and vertical panels of brick-faced precast concrete. 

More information on this project can be found in Concrete Quarterly Summer 2016