Contemporary Interiors Harness the Raw Beauty of Concrete
These days, interior design is all about raw, industrial finishes, with concrete being the most obvious choice. From floors to accent walls and even furniture, many designers are now using concrete in unexpected and unusual ways. In fact, it would seem that there is nothing that can’t be made using this versatile material. In this article, we feature examples of contemporary interiors which have successfully harnessed the raw, industrial beauty of concrete. If you think you're ready to start your next project with concrete, you can always Search ‘concrete’ on CADdetails.com to get additional ideas.
Concrete on CADdetails.com
Here at CADdetails, we have long touted the sustainability of concrete as one of its greatest features. It is a natural material, it’s long lasting, and it can be recycled and repurposed - all the characteristics today’s savvy designers look for when specifying building materials. What’s more, concrete has an organic look and feel that appeals to the environmentally conscious, and speaks to today’s hip trend of ‘bringing the outdoors in’. And if you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to concrete, think again. Today’s innovative concrete technologies include translucent light transmitting building blocks, custom patterned surfaces, and lightweight composite panels, such as the ones shown above, which weigh approximately 4 lbs. per square foot and require no foundation or structural framing!
It is widely recognized that concrete is a sustainable building material and contributes toward achieving certification for most types of construction projects under the LEED green building rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Concrete itself can be a large contributor to obtaining LEED certification, but so can the decorative finishes used to give concrete its almost limitless color and design options. The growth in the popularity of sustainable building has driven the decorative concrete industry to develop products that not only fit the "green" building trend, but also give designers, architects and homeowners more ways to incorporate colorful and artistic elements into their designs while earning LEED credits.
Fast-food giant McDonald's has commissioned French designer Patrick Norguet to reimagine its flagship restaurant on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, France.
Pictured above, Norguet revamped the old McDonald's location by pairing raw concrete with sheet metal to give the building a sleek, industrial feel. He then added a series of colorful light boxes to the ceiling to bring a sense of whimsy into the space. The spectacular light box installation can be seen from the street through a 80-foot wide picture window. He also redesigned the layout of the restaurant in order to integrate new technology and maximize customer convenience. A set of furniture specially designed for the restaurant includes high trestle tables, wooden benches topped with light-colored cushions, and light-colored chairs.
Concrete tables, minimalistic graphic artwork and atmospheric lighting that self-modulates according to the time of day similarly features inside this über modern Hong Kong branch of McDonald's. Dubbed ”McDonald’s Next” and designed by branding consultancy Landini Associates, the sleek concept is a modern alternative to bright and colorful fast-food restaurants. Called an experiment in “Non Design” the intention is to hero the food, the service and the people who come to enjoy it. Other sites under development include Queensland Australia, China, Singapore and more installations in Hong Kong.
The patent protected Litracon® products present the phenomenon of light transmitting concrete in the form of widely applicable new building materials. They have been developed by Hungarian architect Aron LOSONCZI since 2001.
LiTraCon, short for short for light transmitting concrete, consists of 96% concrete and 4% optical glass fibers. Because of their size, the glass fibers become a structural component in the concrete, and the surface of the blocks remains similar to homogeneous concrete. Despite the seemingly low content of glass fibers in the final pre-fabricated concrete block, light is led between the two sides of a given block. Due to the parallel position of the glass fibers, light on the brighter side of the wall appears unchanged on the darker side. The most interesting form of this phenomenon is probably the visible display of shadows on the other side of the wall. LiTraCon elements can be used indoors and outdoors, for both interior and exterior walls, as decorative building elements such as partition walls, illuminated pavements, floors, as well as in art or design objects. The possibilities are endless. Load-bearing structures can also be built from these blocks, since glass fibers have no negative effect on the strength of the concrete.
LiTraCon is considered such an innovative solution that it has been awarded with several renowned industry prizes such as the highly coveted Red Dot ‘Best of the Best‘ Award in 2005, the LeafAwards in 2006 for ‘Best Use of Innovative Technology and Thoughtful Design in a Small Scheme‘ and the iF Material Award in 2008 from the iF International Forum Design.
Pictured above, Litracon Classic® was used as a partition wall between the living room and the Japanese garden in the impressive interior of this private flat in Hungarian capital, Budapest. In addition to partition walls, the blocks have also been used for exterior walls, desks, and even an outdoor memorial. In the future, the blocks may be used for the construction of energy-smart homes to reduce electricity costs by allowing more daylight to penetrate the structure.
Since the introduction of LiTraCon Áron Losonczi has developed two other products that are commercially available: the first one is the intriguing LiTraCube lamp, above, that is made of the LiTraCon elements. The other one is LiTraCon pXL®, a new concept using specially formed and patented plastic unit for light transmission instead of optical glass fibers. The patented plastic unit as well as the industrialized way of manufacturing enable the new pXL product to be positioned in a more attractive price range.
Graphic Concrete is an innovative Finnish company that manufactures and markets graphic concrete, a proprietary technology that enables attractive and durable patterns and images to be reproduced on prefabricated concrete surfaces, such as facades, walls, floors and pavement slabs. Graphic concrete is a patented technology invented by interior architect Samuli Naamanka, who was inspired to create an industrial product for large-scale surfaces with which architects could be more visually creative.
The Ospedale Giovanni XXIII Chapel designed by Traversi + Traversi Architetti and Aymeric Zublena. This amazing interior won not only the category Public Building Interior Surface but also the Supreme Award, the highest recognition, at last year’s Surface Design Awards held in London, England.
Construction of this exceptionally beautiful chapel in Bergamo, Italy, was completed last summer. The interior features precast concrete panels with a GCArt&Design™ pattern. The chapel forms part of a hospital dedicated to Pope Saint John XXIII and was designed by French architect Aymeric Zublena together with Italian architects Pippo and Ferdinando Traversi. The chapel was consecrated on the feast day of Saint John XXIII, 11 October 2014, which was also the anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
The contemporary church makes a strong architectural statement while creating a peaceful space for prayer and contemplation. The minimalist interior features light wood and warm white precast concrete walls with the GCArt&Design™ pattern. Designer of the pattern, Stefano Arienti, took his inspiration from the Garden of Eden, as reflected by the flowers, plants and shrubs that are repeated in the pattern. The floral imagery was realized using delicate rasterised images and a dedicated concrete mix-design, creating an overall impression that is light, airy and calm. The natural light that enters the chapel through round openings in the walls, pictured here, and in the ceiling completes the breathtakingly beautiful effect.
So, if you have been wondering how to bring a sleek, modern design aesthetic into your next project, look no further. Concrete is no longer just for outdoors anymore, and can be formed into beautiful shapes, patterns and geometries.