Concrete, Love it or loathe it ?…
One of the materials that is ideally suited for construction in Ireland considering the availability of the raw materials is concrete. Although much derided as being a eco-unfriendly option; the use of Eco-based cement goes some way to making concrete a more sustainable option. Often seen as an making buildings look ‘industrial’, handled carefully and perhaps treated in different ways; concrete can be a delicate, beautiful and entirely appropriate material to work with. It is also a material that Irish contractors have a lot of experience with, albeit in agricultural buildings such as slurry tanks.
Probably the master in the use of concrete is the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, where the house in Osaka shown below shows how Ando has transformed concrete into a soft pillow-like material. Special thanks to Jan Schipull (http://www.flickr.com/x/t/0102002/photos/janorama/) for the photography
In our own house we used concrete extensively to construct the structure for the grass roof; if you don’t prefer the ‘bare’ concrete look or you feel that it may be a little too ‘grey’ for the west of Ireland then there’s nothing to stop you painting it white as we did; we left all of the concrete untreated so that the timber formwork could still be seen in places but a few coats of Dulux Weathershield exterior paint brightens the horizontality of the internal ceilings and the external, concealed drainage system.
Another example of a house that uses concrete is the house at Charrat by Clavien Rossier Architectes where a yellow oxide was mixed with the concrete to give a ‘stone’ colour which gives a lovely warmth against the backdrop of the mountains beyond.