chapter  Four
18 Pages

Concrete

WithSimon Henley

Hot-rolled steel sections are manufactured in an energy-intensive factory-based process. Compare this with reinforced concrete, which, with the exception of the factory production of cement, can be constructed in-situ. Its other raw materials – stone aggregate, sand and water – are available in abundance. The postwar economics of production thus led to the extensive use of concrete instead of masonry or steel. Adrian Forty even suggests that mid-20th-century architects were blind to the material qualities – good or bad – of concrete, thinking of it more straightforwardly as an available medium. In 1958, Sert Jackson and Gourley served as executive architects on Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sert’s textural elevations, like Le Corbusier’s, often depended on brise soleil for their expression, a portent of environmental architecture. The plasticity of concrete plays an equally important part in the work of the Chicago-based American architect Bertrand Goldberg.