In residential and commercial design, precast concrete is not often considered a go-to materials when you want to achieve a pleasing aesthetic. Sure, you’ll find counter tops and walls made out of concrete but precast concrete material is rarely used as an architectural touch point.
With ongoing developments in precast concrete technology, more and more architects are turning to this affordable, malleable, and environmentally-friendly construction material to adorn their structures. To enlighten you, here are three examples of notable projects that are utilizing precast concrete in remarkable designs.
Precast Concrete Shines in Toronto Office Building
Museums and stunning high-rise office buildings often get most of the press coverage when it comes to architectural style – but let’s not forget your average municipal complex. Toronto’s Liberty Village neighborhood sports one of the most interesting looking office buildings constructed with precast concrete. Designed by Batay-Csorba, the (Misfit)fit project is built with large precast concrete panels that sport a wave-like design.
It’s wavy, modular structure showcases precast concrete’s versatility, allowing architects to work with texture and form on the exterior of their building without sacrificing structural integrity.
Toyo Ito’s Mexican Museum’s Glorious Curves
Museums are known for their remarkable architectural designs. One of the most unique and remarkable precast structures is the new Museo Internacional del Barroco in Puebla, Mexico. Designed by Toyo Ito, this structure was designed and constructed completely out of precast concrete panels, which are not known for their aesthetic appeal. While the Liberty Village building in Toronto showcases precast concrete’s textural versatility, Ito’s Museo, gives you a glimpse of it’s ability to achieve unique forms.
“The construction system, specially designed for the MIB, used precast concrete walls and slabs that, in addition to being the structure of the building itself, give the final finishing,” Ito says. “The slabs,” he continued, “composed of precast gray concrete tablets 7 cm thick, use recycled PET spheres to make them lighter.”
It’s a structure that has to be seen to be believed.
The Appeal of Black Concrete
We’re all used to concrete’s dusty gray color, but one particular architect firm is creating a unique black-pigmented concrete to trademark his residential designs. Attilo Panzeri, a Swiss-based firm, has been experimenting with various materials to give his concrete structures a gun metal black appearance. His residential designs are unique in that they use small precast concrete blocks – sort of like a concrete log cabin – to create the interior and exterior walls. From there, Panzeri will either cover the exposed walls with a similarly pigmented wood material, or leave the concrete exposed allowing the homeowners to create their own contrasts on the black concrete walls.
This approach to concrete combines decorative elements, the natural texture of exposed concrete, and its ability to act as a structural component into one clean, modern design.
Chris Galis is a writer for Metromont, which is a precast concrete manufacturer based in Greenville, SC. They are experts in the industry with projects all over the country.