MUCH like Marmite, Concrete polarises opinion — you’re either religiously for or rabidly against.
But there's no denying its impact on the 20th-century built environment, mostly through its boundless plasticity and strength once combined with steel reinforcement.
At this point in time 7.5 billion square metres of concrete are produced annually, roughly equivalent to five bathtubs for every person on Earth.
The Romans understood concrete — they called it porcelana — better than we do. Their structures still stand 1,500 years on and that porcelana included a mix of volcanic ash, lime, seawater and lumps of volcanic rock.
It's only just been discovered that this extraordinary durability came from a unique combination of minerals growing spontaneously within the concrete over years — witness the Pantheon in Rome (pictured), built in the second century AD, which remains the world's largest and oldest unreinforced concrete dome.
In homage, William Hall, editor of the just-published Concrete, has put together a collection of images where the wow factor ambushes the senses at just about at every turn of the page.
From Oscar Niemeyer’s National Congress in Brasilia or his Copan Building in Sao Paulo to Le Corbusier’s chapel in Ronchamp, Melnikov’s Rusakov Workers Club in Moscow and Goldfinger’s Trellick tower in London to Max Berg’s Centennial Hall in Wroclaw and William Pereira’s Geisel Library in San Diego, the book is a paean to the insatiable human capacity for creatively redefining the environment.
There's nothing “brutalist” in these extraordinary images.
Concrete, edited by William Hall, is published by Phaidon, £29.95.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.