From the Pantheon to the Hoover Dam, concrete has literally shaped the civilized world as we know it. Although once referred to as “the cheapest (and ugliest) thing in the building world” by Frank Lloyd Wright, concrete’s adaptive properties have propelled it to the forefront of many design movements from brutalism to modernism, being used in some of the most monumental structures the modern world has known. Giving the simple building material the proper recognition, Phaidon has announced “Concrete,” set to release 3 September 2012.
The 240-page monograph celebrates the material in 175 structures including Wright’s iconic Fallingwater residence, Oscar Neimeyer’s extraterrestrial-inspired Niterói Contemporary Art Museum and other inspiring works by the likes of Zaha Hadid, Le Corbusier and Arne Jacobsen
Following an introduction by architectural and design authority Leonard Koren, “Concrete” continues to touch upon eight themes; form, texture, juxtaposition, landscape, light, mass, presence and scale. The division of the monograph follows these themes with stunning imagery and short descriptions, including each structure’s designer and place and date of construction. While the categories divide, a visual narrative joins the works by way freedom of imagination—nothing ascribes to what one may be call typical.
Often labeled as cold and sterile, the most basic of manmade building materials is here shown in a multitude of environments both welcoming and imposing. From the formidable fortresses of Cold War-era Eastern Europe to fluid structures in South America, the uniquely adaptive material tends to take on the emotion of its surroundings. In either design direction however, the result becomes beautifully intriguing.
Images by Graham Hiemstra