Concrete doesn’t always have to be boring! Numerous projects by renowned architects have shown the many possibilities of colored concrete. One of those architects is Akihisa Hirata from Japan. LANXESS awarded him the Colored Concrete Works Award this year for his “Alp” apartment complex in Akabane-Nishi, Tokyo.
In harmony with nature
Begun in July 2009 and completed in March 2010, the “Alp” complex lies in the center of Tokyo. It is surrounded by natural hills. The buildings are placed close together and differ in shape and roof size. Hirata was faced with the challenge of achieving harmony between the buildings and their environment. In response to this, he used the unique topography as a starting point in shaping his conceptual design.
And he was successful: the buildings’ fractal structures and concave and convex surfaces merge imperceptibly to form its overall appearance. To combine the complex with the original landscape, he colored the concrete in a special shade of charcoal. In this way the architect created a setting that made both observers and residents aware of the direct closeness of the buildings to the forces of nature. The halls and corridors within resemble natural valleys. Light and ventilation flood into the lower levels and into the garden area.
A convincing solution
It was particularly important to Hirata that the nature of the surfaces and the visual character of the concrete be retained. That would not have been possible had the color merely been applied externally. His choice therefore fell on permanent integral coloration with Bayferrox pigments by LANXESS. The benefit of this is the wide variety of hues and shades that can be obtained depending on the amount and combination of pigments added.
The result convinced the international jury of this year’s Colored Concrete Works Award, made up of experts from architectural and specialist media. They honored the impression conveyed by this building project as a profoundly understood relationship between the natural and the artificial, as well as its perfect integration into the urban setting. As reward, Hirata received the Colored Concrete Works Award from the LANXESS Inorganic Pigments Business Unit. This is bestowed on architects who have rendered outstanding services to the use of color in concrete buildings.
Tailor-made for architecture
Bayferrox iron oxide pigments from Krefeld-Uerdingen have been setting color accents all around the globe for almost 90 years. Clients in the greatest variety of industries put their trust in the quality of these pigments. Since production started in 1926, more than twelve million metric tons of these high-quality color pigments have left the LANXESS works on the Lower Rhine: the world’s largest works of this kind.
Julius Laux, a chemist in Krefeld, discovered in 1926 that outstanding color pigments could be made from iron oxide sludge, a side-product in the production of aniline. But color was long considered a luxury item – a bridge can be crossed just as well if it’s gray, after all. It was not until the general standard of living had risen that esthetic aspects took on a growing significance. The LANXESS Inorganic Pigments Business Unit now offers a palette of more than 100 shades to architects and other users of concrete. The facades of luxury hotels and the paving stones of smart riverside walks and seaside promenades are increasingly being beautified with designs featuring synthetic iron-oxide and chromium-oxide pigments.
A home for art
A further, spectacular example is the museum “Casa das Histórias Paula Rego”. This pioneering structure in Cascais, Portugal shows how well even very futuristic concrete constructions can be fitted into a natural landscape. Renowned artist Paula Rego selected star architect Eduardo Souto de Moura to design the museum that was to house her works. Some 3,800 cubic meters of concrete were used for the exhibition hall, while 18 metric tons of the red iron-oxide pigment Bayferrox 110 and the yellow Bayferrox® 420 took care of the color. The architect reinterprets the region’s historical method of construction in a modern style with the use of red concrete. The editors of “art” magazine consider the museum to be one of the world’s most impressive exhibition buildings.
Tradition meets modernity
At the other end of the architectural spectrum and larger by far is the Hotel Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi,in surroundings that do not lack imposing buildings: A five-star dream from the Thousand and One Nights, with 302 rooms, 92 suites, 102 elevators and altogether 114 cupolas decorated with gold leaf. 250,000 cubic meters of concrete and some 60 metric tons of Bayferrox pigments were required for this modern fairy-tale castle, whose mixture of natural stone and exposed concrete converts the traditional building style of the region into modernity.
Super highway in Korea
In cooperation with the architect Minsuk Cho, the South Korean IT firm Daum Kakao has created Daum Kakao Space.1, a group headquarters building. It corresponds to the special business culture of Daum Kakao, while at the same time reflecting the special scenic features of the building’s environment on South Korea’s Jeju Island.
The objective of the project was to recreate the horizontal work structures of the IT giant in physical terms. The long, narrow shape of the building over an area of 132,000 square meters represents a kind of “Super Highway”. At the same time, an architectural superstructure divides the location into a rural and an urban area.
While implementing the project, Minsuk Cho decided in favor of concrete through-dyed with Bayferrox pigments, which in both material and color give an authentic image of the typical attributes of the island. Bayferrox 318, Bayferrox 920 and Bayferrox 4130 were the types used, for it was possible with them to recreate the volcanic rock typical of Jeju true to the original. With its close-to-nature design, the environmental friendliness of this building material is just one of the positive contributions to the project’s image.
These examples show that dyed concrete is fashionable. The LANXESS “Colored Concrete Works” campaign shows all of the possibilities of colored concrete. There you can find further prominent examples of pioneering architecture. Various projects can be viewed virtually at http://colored-concrete-works.com