Concrete innovation: new ways of using a tried and tested material
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Decorative or functional, designers are finding innovative ways of working with concrete to build homes, decorate them, and help the environment.
The OPod Tube Housing system, brainchild of architect James Law, is a potential solution to chronic overcrowding. The tiny tube houses, designed for one or two people, are made from repurposed concrete water pipes that weigh 20 tonnes, measure 2.5 metres in diameter, and provide a little over nine square metres of living space. Amenities include a living room with a bench that converts into a bed, a bathroom, a shower and storage space.
The dark façade of this super-sleek volunteer fire station in the tiny Italian town of Margreid was made using a composite of concrete and beech coal dust to evoke the colour and texture of charred wood. Carved straight into a sheer rock face on the side of a mountain, the station’s three giant cave rooms were excavated with the help of explosives.
Hong Kong-based DeskX uses data from Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to create accessories for home or office, crafted from ‘jewellery-grade’ concrete, that are a precise replica of the Moon’s surface. The hand-finished slabs are designed to sit on an aluminium base or hang on a wall.
Created by Cornwall-based design studio Green&Blue, Bee Bricks are made from reclaimed concrete and feature openings of various sizes which are a perfect nesting site for bees. They recreate a type of nest found in old brickwork that is becoming increasingly rare due to the precision of modern construction.
Estonian design collective Kodasema’s tiny prefabricated home concept, KODA, can be disassembled and prepped to travel in about four hours. The 26-square-metre space includes a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The team see it as an “architectural blank slate” that could serve as a city centre home, lakeside summer house or even a classroom.
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