Why Do We Love Exposed Concrete?
Updated: Mar 16
The aesthetic aspect in the constructions is increasingly demanding and the architectural concrete elements, elaborated in situ or precast, mark an important stage in the evolution of contemporary architecture by providing characteristics of incredible versatility, with which impeccable works can be created. which may well be the reproduction of an old facade or an alternative design.
Therefore, concrete plays an important and essential role in these modern structures. Outside of concrete, no modern building material can so easily take on the shapes, colors, and textures in any type of project. For this reason, there are many advantages of working with architectural concrete and many benefits of all kinds that derive from its use.
For me the use of exposed concrete has to do with the history of architecture and its environment, this material can age gracefully and merge with the site where it was created; thus, over time, the exposed concrete constructions end up forming part of the original environment, achieving the feeling of unity and belonging to the place.
But what is exposed concrete?
Exposed concrete or also known by the name of architectural concrete is a type of material that fulfills a double function: aesthetic and structural, which is why it is very appropriate for buildings where it is sought to obtain textured surfaces. It is established as the protagonist of architectural design, without neglecting its structural function in walls, floors, and columns.
It does not require final work, but its treatment consists of the design of falsework and the intervention of carpenters, construction workers, engineers, and architects; it is a craft that requires a lot of supervision.
How is this finish achieved on an exposed concrete wall?
This type of exposed concrete finish, on a wall of the house, is achieved with the use of metal or wooden rods, adhered to the formwork, and when the formwork is removed, the lines or stripes are stamped on the already set wall.
The texture that is seen is the marks left by the formwork, chosen to leave its marks on the material. The forms can be wooden planks with very marked veins, all cut the same size, they leave their textures in the concrete and this is part of the decoration of the room.
There are three types of exposed concrete finishes on the market:
Direct finishes: These are untreated surfaces that are left as is after removal of the falsework. Includes smooth, textured finishes, natural patterns, inlays, simulated wood, and grooved or grooved surfaces.
Smooth finishes: They do not imitate any other material, however, the difficulty of this work consists in obtaining a perfect finish, since any defect in this surface is very noticeable and they are susceptible to cracking. Formwork must be rigid, custom fabricated, easy to assemble, and disassemble.
Indirect finishes: Their surfaces are treated after stripping by chemical means or mechanical processes.
Among the competitive advantages that stand out in this material are:
Appearance and aesthetics:
Undoubtedly, the greatest advantage of architectural concrete over any other material and for any type of work is its ability to assume the desired shapes, colors, and textures, either in avant-garde proposals or to complement existing materials. The aesthetics, plasticity, and workability of the so-called “liquid stone” broaden the variety of finishes that reinforce the aesthetic aspect of a project in an integral figure, ensuring uniform color and appearance and allowing complex geometries to be perfectly realized.
Productivity and economy:
Surfaces treated with concrete do not require additional finishes, since this material offers non-slip characteristics that give it durability and resistance. Besides, compared to other materials, it reduces maintenance needs and requires lower finishing costs. When choosing architectural concrete as a construction option, there is also an increase in the speed of construction if architectural precasts are chosen to cover the structure, the elements can be manufactured at the same time as the foundation work begins, saving time in execution and installation of the pieces, with less labor and construction activity, since one of the great advantages of architectural concrete is the possibility of manufacturing large panels under all types of formats (20 m2 or more) and with thicknesses that can reach 15 mm.
Strength, weight, elasticity:
Concrete is a fairly versatile material that can achieve excellent aesthetic effects without altering its physical and mechanical qualities. It provides great resistance in smaller thicknesses and large formats; it also offers high resistance to compression, tension, and abrasion.
Sustainability and technology:
Regarding sustainability, concrete has a wide spectrum of benefits such as acoustic insulation, because when used in walls and panels it can reduce noise by more than 80%, compared to materials such as wood or steel. Today concrete buildings use less energy to heat up or cool down. The reflection levels are 57.4% in white concrete and 23.6% in gray concrete. For architectural projects, it is also possible to use photocatalytic concrete which, in addition to being a flexible and aesthetic material, can decontaminate the air in its surroundings when it comes into contact with the composition of its exposed face. Permeable architectural concrete can be used in floor finishes, which filters rainwater, preventing oil, gasoline, or other polluting liquids from reaching the rainwater drains.
Our Architecture Studio always seeks and proposes the use of exposed concrete in all our projects and we believe in the importance of explaining to the client the advantages and added value that the use of this material can bring to their projects.