Our Concrete Ideas



19:00h Room 209

Is there an architect alive who has not used concrete in some form or another in their career? Like it or loath it, this ubiquitous yet surprising material dominates our conception of modern and contemporary architecture. In this series of informal discussions, architects discuss their relationship to concrete and how it has shaped certain parts of their practice. As a preparation aid they were asked these questions. How do you use concrete? Is it a material that you think about? Would your architecture be possible without concrete? Concrete is a poured material, what are your thoughts on the container? What could concrete achieve with new technology?

Our concrete Ideas 1 | 11 March
Merritt Bucholz of Bucholz McEvoy Architect

Our concrete Ideas 2 | 22 April
Christina Condak and Peter Leeb of Nurarchitektur

Our concrete Ideas 3 | 29 April
Hannes Stiefel of Stiefel Kramer Architects

Our concrete Ideas 4 | 13 May
Stefan Rutzinger of Soma Architects


Our Concrete Ideas 4


soma-architecture | Stefan Rutzinger

19:00h Room 209

Following Michelangelo a sculpture already exists in the marble block, the artist solely has to reveal it. Quite contrary to marble, the “artificial stone” concrete contains no form in itself but is able to fit into any formwork with almost no constraints. Ignoring its malleability the building industry still uses concrete for cheap and efficient domino building concepts – limiting the possibilities of a shapeable fluid material to conventional results. Yet though being capable to fulfill the architect’s wildest dreams concrete might be questioned as the choice of the future: Deducing form from material performances and light weight materials are already in the focus of architectural investigation, turning concrete as a material with a high amount of gray energy and a difficult recycling procedure into a luxurious building material, that requires careful consideration when and how to use it.



Our Concrete Ideas 3


Stiefel & Company Architects | Hannes Stiefel

19:00h Room 209

(…) Scapegoat Says: How does the square function as a political space today? In what way does the choice of concrete as a material help facilitate this use?  Hannes Stiefel: Concrete is concrete! Every architectural intervention is a political statement. And concrete is a material for concrete formulations. Concrete allowed us not only to create a continuous (and simultaneously inconsistent) surface that contrasts with its surroundings, while combining the multifaceted elements of the square. Furthermore, the usage of stone in the form of this very particular, smoothly shaped concrete casts a new light on the similar coloured stone cladding of the rigid liberation monument. The square’s political function today lies beyond the impact of the liberation monument and the National Socialist architecture of the Landhaus. The square’s major function as a political space is an ongoing process. An endeavour that was installed at the beginning of the architectural competition, was then established through the planning and realization, and is now open to the plaza’s users.



Our Concrete Ideas 2

nurarchitektur | Peter Leeb and Christina Condak

19:00h Room 209

Considering architecture’s requirement for structural stability, resilience, and longevity, contemporary construction without concrete seems hardly possible. The inherent qualities of the material are reflected in its visual appearance only to a certain extent. Concrete’s features are paradoxical: initially liquid, formless, expansive, and malleable into any formwork, concrete eventually solidifies and achieves a continuous stoniness that is quite resistant to change. Concrete carries the capacity to render space homogeneous and thus create an air of archaic simplicity in spite of its technical complexity. The very material qualities can be controlled by the mix of the aggregate, the surfaces can be treated in various ways, and the form is open to plastic manipulation. We like the coarseness of concrete surfaces after they have been chiseled in the way stone masons would do. Rather than indulging in the seductions of smoothness we enjoy the sometimes raw traces of the concrete making. Our interest lies therefore primarily in the material’s constructive capacities of concrete as steel-reinforced artificial stone: massive at times, continuous in the making, and always expressive in its appearance.



Our Concrete Ideas 1


Bucholz McEvoy Architects | Formwork

19:00h Room 209

Concrete is an industry and a material : it is embedded within economies as well as buildings. The range of disciplines, trades, techniques is representative of the velocity of epoch within which concrete has developed. The ability we have to think about concrete from a new perspective is equally framed by the moment from which we begin; current practice almost automatically assumes concrete as a material and overlooks the possibility to find a starting point, a foundational principal from which to work. Formwork as a technology and a material is possibly more important than concrete, but is typically part of the detailing phase. Examining formwork as part of a critical practice of concrete will be briefly examined and discussed in this workshop.