The use of concrete, polished or otherwise, both in interior design projects and for structural purposes is vastly underrated. Used traditionally for industrial purposes, concrete is now stuck with the reputation of being a cold, lifeless material that is hardy but far from show-stopping.
The modern use of concrete as a design feature, however, is changing this perception and bringing with it a number of functional and environmental positives that is leading concrete-based developments to garner critical acclaim.
This has been the case for architectural firm Rad Architecture’s ‘Brisbane Street Addition’ in Perth. The residential development was originally designed to reflect the modern lifestyle led by the home’s owners, an airline pilot and a parks manager. The fluidity of these roles and the modernity of the context in which the homeowners wished to live in helped shape the development and how it has been received.
“Our clients asked us to design a house to reflect the broader and immediate contexts in which they lead active lives,” say the architects. “The concept, catalysed by our reaction to the local authority’s request to articulate the large area of wall on the western boundary, was to redefine the edge, to create a boundary on the move, in tension and compression and not necessarily straight. As a result, a series of angled, non-parallel raw concrete panels dangerously pushing and pulling against each other became the container.”
This container, or structural form, sets the tone for the entire development. Due to the nature of the structural concrete slabs, interior spaces are defined by the exterior and vice versa. This has lead to a palette of raw materials that make the interiors of the space completely unique.
What keeps this space from becoming aesthetically cold, clinical and overtly industrial is the incorporation of texture in the concrete. A textured slab acts as a bed head, while natural circular patterns and coloured sections act to break up the bleak monotony of grey that this house could have potentially become.
The use of precast concrete slabs does serve a function, add ingthermal mass in aid in the passive heating of the house, a feature that is further enhanced by the incorporation of a number of environmentally responsible technological additions.
Longevity, minimalism and sustainability are all hallmarks that could come to define the use of concrete as a key aesthetic and functional material.
It is being recognised by the public and by the industry, with this particular project nominated in the ‘houses’ category the World Architecture Festival.