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Our summer Concrete Elegance lecture features two buildings where the design and use of concrete is strongly influenced by their location.

Final Frame: Ureddplassen, Norway

Oslo-based studio Haugen/Zohar Arkitekter has designed this rest area next to a Second World War memorial on the Helgelandskysten Norwegian Scenic Route. An in-situ concrete slab forms a terrace facing the sea, while precast-concrete steps lead down to the shoreline. At one end of the terrace, the surface appears to sweep upwards to form the roof of an accessible toilet.

Photo: Steinar Skaar

From the archive: WINTER 1971

MADREPORIC SPONGES ON THE MED

Strange things were afoot on the Côte d’Azur in the early 1970s. First, a new village appeared in the rocky hills behind Cannes; and then another, cascading down a steep hill to the Mediterranean. What was striking about both of these developments was that there was not, as CQ editor George Perkin observed, a straight line or rectangle to be found on either of them: “All is sculpture, some houses look like caves.” It was as if the ghost of Gaudí had taken a holiday at the seaside.

The villages – Castellaras-le-Neuf and Port La Galère – were the work of the maverick Marseillais Jacques Couëlle, and were the very essence of organic architecture, their sprayed-concrete surfaces curving and arching as if shaped by the forces of nature. “My houses are living beings,” Couëlle wrote. “They have a nervous system, a stomach, intestines, a heart. They are built like madreporic sponges.”

Perkin was immediately impressed. “With its rock-like clusters of houses it is obviously one man’s personal vision and a brilliant conception at that.”

The book, The World Recast: 70 Buildings from 70 Years of Concrete Quarterly, is out now, available from www.concretecentre.com/publications 

Access the full CQ archive here