Comment and debate on the concrete industry’s most pressing issues


Our popular event Cafe Concrete returns on 30th October 2018. This pop-up event will provide inspiration and information on the design and construction of visual concrete.

Final Frame: Tree-ness House, Tokyo

Architect Akihisa Hirata has created this complex of apartments and galleries in the central Toshima district of Tokyo. Inspired by the structure of a tree, he has developed a branch-like architecture of concrete boxes, openings and voids. The boxes are arranged to create an intricate network of outdoor spaces, terraces and gardens. “I intended to create a futuristic and savage architecture,” says Hirata, “that awakens human animal instincts in which the inside and outside are reversed multiple times.”

Photo: Vincent Hecht

From the archive: SPRING 1974


At Clifton Cathedral, which has just been refurbished by Purcell, CQ editor George Perkin had, if not a revelation, then at least a moment of faith restored. “At a time when I thought that I was going off boardmarked in situ concrete for ever, I am suddenly disconcerted by this fine example of a wholly in situ white concrete interior which bears the imprint of redwood boards from Russia … Never have I liked this technique so well since we visited the Paris Unesco building back in the late fifties.”

The concrete was the work of John Laing Construction and structural engineer Felix Samuely, working to a design by Percy Thomas Partnership. The exposed walls were all cast in situ using detailed formwork of thin timber boards fixed onto plywood sheets. White cement gave a very light finish, which reflected the daylight drawn in through the roof’s spirelike funnel.

This play of light reminded Perkin of Kenzo Tange’s St Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo in the way that it “inspired feelings of almost tangible spiritual reality”. The skilful handling of indirect natural light, he concluded, was “surely the most effective way of invoking spiritual atmosphere”.

The book, The World Recast: 70 Buildings from 70 Years of Concrete Quarterly, is out now, available from 

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