In historical and contemporary buildings as well as current construction projects, concrete literally plays a massive role. However, modern concrete architecture now has little in common with the (gray) dreariness of the past. Through the use of new high-performance concretes, significant changes in design are apparent. The addition of high-quality inorganic pigments also enables individual color schemes to be created that perfectly match the building project – in a single process and without additional time expenditure in the form of painting or plastering.
Concrete is the undisputed number one building material worldwide. For good reasons: The material is load-bearing, pressure-resistant and durable, flexible to process and available in many different types for a wide variety of applications. Concrete is also relatively moderately priced. And by modifying the formulation, it can be individually tailored to a wide variety of construction, civil engineering and road- building projects.
Fair-faced concrete – the modern architectural language
In contemporary architecture, fair-faced concrete offers a particularly wide range of possibilities: This is usually understood to mean concrete sections, the visible surfaces of which form part of the architectural or interior design of a building. With fair-faced concrete, it is possible to produce the finest grain surfaces – without subsequent finishing. Even complex structures can be realized by using flexible forms and matrices. Additional advantages in architectural design are offered by new types of concrete, such as ultra-high-strength concretes, which are extremely dense and strong.
Regardless of whether the building project in question is an imposing one or filigree, concrete opens up a wide range of design possibilities for architects: It plays an important role in architecture, although only when combined with color does it seem light and attractive. The opportunities provided by permanent concrete coloring, which is achieved primarily by adding inorganic color pigments during the concrete mixing process, are almost unlimited.
Colorful instead of gray and dreary
Color accents can be realized in concrete architecture in a variety of ways – without loss of performance or subsequent cost-intensive operations such as painting, varnishing or wallpapering. The solution lies in the use of high-quality metal oxide pigments, such as iron oxide or chrome oxide ones. LANXESS has been producing these with in-depth expertise for many decades under the Bayferrox® and Colortherm brands and they are used in many branches of industry.
The product range includes a colors palette, offering choices both for those who favor muted, earthy tones and for adherents of predominantly black architecture. Whether yellow, red, green and black or one of the more than 100 other color shades available – there is much to be said for the use of color-modified concrete, and not just to implement original aesthetic ideas. For example, new buildings can be harmoniously integrated into the existing landscape and urban living spaces by means of a suitable color scheme. A successful example is the residential house design "the Alp", realized by the Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata. On the one hand, the three-story apartment building in fair-faced concrete abstractly represents the topography of the surrounding hills in a series of clear shapes. On the other hand, a charcoal-like color scheme has been chosen to reflect the attributes of the natural subsoil in order to create a link with the original landscape.
Infrastructure projects that meet both functional and creative requirements also benefit from colored concrete. Pigment-treated concrete is suitable for the architectural implementation of cultural and social contents and values that are associated with a certain color. The Swedish Årsta bridge, based on a design by Sir Norman Foster, spectacularly reifies this concept. Through its modern design and traditional Falun red color, the bridge impressively spans the cheerfulness and the future of Sweden.
Pigment experts advise architects
LANXESS offers architects concrete assistance in the realization of projects all over the world. The experts at the in-house technical center have the expertise and technical equipment to support architects and users in all aspects of the use of color pigments in concrete right from the start. On the basis of internationally valid standard color samples such as RAL, NCS or FCS as well as conceptual suggestions and ideas from architects, the experts at LANXESS design concrete color samples which can be used on the construction site to achieve the desired results. If necessary, the so-called Competence Center supports construction raw material suppliers, manufacturers of building additives and architects in the implementation of the construction project, even on site.
Imposing construction projects which achieve a very special effect through the use of colored concrete can be found all over the world. One of the most famous examples is certainly the Ciutat de la Justícia in Barcelona, designed and realized by David Chipperfield Architects in collaboration with b720 Arquitectos. In Marseilles, French architect Rudy Ricciotti has created a museum with a unique architectural style, the spectacular MuCEM.
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Contact: Oliver Fleschentraeger, Global Market Segment Manager Construction,
Phone +49 221 8885-4870, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org