Noppenhalle, Zurich - Baierbischofberger Architects

Who knew concrete could be so cool?

Alien settlement or Swiss gallery? Concrete is full of buildings that stun, amaze and occasionally shock

This strange, alien-like settlement of a building (which bears some relation to the one in the related story on the left) is one of our many favourites in our new book, Concrete. It’s in the Texture section of the book which looks at the ways this oddly fascinating material has been used through the ages. The building, In Noppenhalle, Zurich, is a former factory building redeveloped  to create a new private gallery space. It was built in 2007 by Baierbischofberger Architects.The quoit-sized suckers on the building on the outside of the building are lit dramatically at night to give an eerie, supernatural glow. 

No architecture book of course, would be complete without a Peter Zumthor building. A wigwam of tree trunks was the inauspicious beginning of his customarily exceptional Bruder Klaus Chapel in Wachendorf, Germany, pictured below. Using a technique called rammed concrete, local farmers laid one 50cm layer of concrete – between the timber and an outer frame – per month for two years until the walls stood 12m high. Finally the wood was burnt away to leave a scorched concrete shell.



Among many other things, the book gives readers a lowdown on the benefits and delights of in situ concrete (also called shuttered, poured or cast-in-place concrete). It's created by making a metal or wooden frame which is then filled with concrete. Once this is dry the frame is removed, often removing the grain if a wooden frame was used. Its benefits are it's ability to provide sheer scale and textural allure as demonstrated by the Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center in Taiwan pictured below.



Finally, precast concrete panels clad Wiel Arets’ Pradalongo Housing complex in Madrid (below) with large-scale but subtle patterning. The repeat adds complexity and interest to an otherwise plain series of facades. We’ve spent hours and hours pouring over this book this week. We could have chosen any one of its 230 odd fascinating pages to post today. Take a more in depth look at in the store