When making the decision to purchase concrete mixers from BS Power, you should be aware of the impressive feats this kind of machine has achieved. Buildings across the world have been made a reality as a result of the effective us of concrete mixers and the inspired vision of architects and construction teams. Although you may not be planning to create a building of such prowess, there is a wonderful history attached to concrete and how it has shaped so many structures in the world. In just a few minutes of reading, find out about these 10 fascinating concrete buildings and how concrete mixers helped build them.
Concrete mixers making the Jubilee church in Rome possible
The Pritzker Prize-winning architect by the name of Richard Meier made his ideas a reality when he designed Jubilee Church close to Rome. The church was built at the behest of Pope John Paul’s initiative to inspire parish presence and activity in the region. The church is recognizable for its three large concrete sails which are modeled on a half circle and supported with a square-shaped spine. Between each slab, one can see windows nestled carefully. These windows take in light at different angles depending on the time of day, creating a lovely visual effect as they do so.
The building phase endured between 1998 and 2003, which led to the formation of this masterpiece using Roman travertine and white, marble-like concrete. The special nature of the cement used means that the building is self-cleaning – which makes sense as the building is still fresh and looks as good as new even after all these years. Concrete mixers were able to effectively mix this solution and speed up the building process to a large extent, which stands as a testament to their success as construction machines.
Tenerife’s Auditorium in the Canary Islands created using concrete mixers
This structurally intriguing auditorium was designed by architect Santiaga Calatrava, and building began in 1997. Many argue that the building falls within the category of late modernist architecture. It can be found on Constitution Avenue in Santa Cruz in the Canary Islands, and was built from white concrete. According to Calatrava, he chose concrete as the medium for this structure as the material is able to “defy the laws of gravity”. The specific mixture of concrete used included a high proportion of titanium dioxide, which enhances the whiteness of the material.
Utilising this mixture meant that light would catch the building more effectively and create a beautifully aesthetic structure, both inside and outside. Within the building, a performance space is held and surrounded by abstract and curved concrete forms.
Shanghai’s Long Museum created through the use of concrete mixers
The architect Atelier Deshaus designed this fascinating structure around a bridge from the 1950s and a parking garage. It is recognisable by its cantilevered form which utilises massive cast-in-place curves of concrete which are cleverly juxtaposed with transparent metal walls. The building was completed in 2014, and since then has served as a well-frequented museum. The Long Museum features both professional collections as well as promotes public cultural education.
Among other things, the museum focuses on traditional, modern and contemporary Chinese art for the enjoyment of visitors both local and from around the world. The design of the museum aimed to integrate art into the daily life of those visiting the area. The following is a brief floor guide:
The above-ground floors include:
- River-view restaurant
- Concert hall
- Art shop
- Public courtyard
The first basement level includes:
- Exhibition hall for children
- Art bookshop
- Artefact restoration rooms and facilities
- The second basement includes:
- Parking for over 300 cars
The Sulk Institute, California, made possible with concrete mixers
Designed by architect Louis Kahn in 1965, this concrete mixer-fuelled creation sits on a bluff looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Its interesting form creates a unique combination of shadow and geometry which is highly pleasing to the eye. It is recognisable for its two six-storey buildings that are identical in nature, which flank a courtyard made out of travertine. The architect chose to use concrete mixers and concrete for the material of the building due to its proven low maintenance and durability.
The Rusakov Workers’ Club, Moscow
Architect Konstantin Melnikov’s Rusakov Workers’ Club in Moscow is a cultural centre for Russian workers. The space provides an auditorium and theatre capable of accommodating 1400 people, as well as additional office rooms which allow for the gathering and socialising of those individuals. The club was designed to express Russian political power and dominance. The building has a monumental form which portrayed this power, but also inspired the workers who occupied the club. The building showcases the architect’s great fascination with dramatic structure, most prominently through the harsh, reinforced-concrete cantilevered seating.
The building was constructed using new and modern materials. While the only visible materials used in its construction are concrete, brick, and glass – the reinforced-concrete construction was created through the assembly of geometric volumes with sharp angles and diagonal lines that resemble an enormous mechanical gear – further linking to the Soviet’s interests in industrialization. Melnikov’s choice of the most advanced materials and technology allowed him to create a bold structure that spoke of Russian strength. To some extent, the building’s function is expressed on the exterior, with its exaggerated sharp edges and concrete forms protruding outward, it was intended to exhibit “muscular” characteristics.
The distinctive façade of the avant-garde building reflects Melnikov’s experimental interior design, in which three large galleries slope upward from the central stage area in the form of cantilevered seating sections. Mobile walls in each of these galleries allow for adaptability to different seating and staging arrangements.
Cidade das Artes, Rio de Janeiro
The French Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Christian de Portzamparc, designed and oversaw construction of this impressive concrete structure, which many not have been a reality without the help of concrete mixers. Construction finished in 2013, and when standing inside, visitors have a view of both the ocean and the mountains, indicating how carefully its location was chosen. Many argue that the curvilinear concrete walls were designed to pay homage to modernist Brazilian architecture characteristic of the mid-20th century. De Portzamparc was successful in ensuring an entwining of empty space and immense shape which is easily viewable from a distance.
The Pantheon, Rome
Perhaps the world’s most famous concrete structure, scholars suggest that the Pantheon was designed by a Appollodorus of Damascus around 126 AD. The ancient Romans did not utilise reinforced concrete (that being concrete that is strengthened with steel frameworks inside) yet made do without. The structure is recognisable by its massive Corinthian columns and marble decoration, culminating into a circular oculus at the top of the structure. A beam of light beautifully shies though the interior and has been described as a “small sun”.
The Pantheon is thought to have been designed as a temple for the worship of Roman gods, and today the building is situated in the business district of Rome for all to see and marvel at. Some famous individuals such as Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola and Jean Moulin are buried within the building’s necropolis. Today, it is not used for worship but rather a powerful historical landmark that sees visitations from historians and curious souls from all over the world. Its impressive artistic and architectural significance has kept it relevant for all these years since its creation.
The Romans were not so fortunate as to be able to use concrete mixers like we are today. Instead, they utilised volcanic ash, lime and seawater to create a mortar which they mixed by “hand” with chunks of volcanic rock. The calcium in the mixture is one aspect which has kept the building strong and standing for hundreds of years.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Fallingwater’ House, Pennsylvania
This intriguing concrete building was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is one of Wright’s most recognisable works in which he perfectly portrays his philosophy of unifying art and nature. The house was designed as a private residence and weekend home for the Kaufmann family in Mill Run, Pennsylvania – where they used to go on retreat. The house is situated above a waterfall amongst dense forest – allowing Wright to create seamless harmony between the building and its surroundings.
The exterior of Fallingwater enforces a strong horizontal pattern with the bricks and long terraces. The windows on the facade are specially designed to open at the corners, breaking the “box” of the house, and opening it to the vast outdoors. The terraces were used to create space within multiple layered and horizontal planes. This created a large and dominant horizontal force.
To support these planes, Wright worked with engineers Mendel Glickman and William Wesley Peters. Their solution was in the materials. The house took on “a definite masonry form” that related to the site, and for the terraces they decided on a reinforced-concrete structure. It was Wright’s first time working with concrete for residences and although at first he did not have much interest in the material, it had the flexibility to be cast into any shape, and when reinforced with steel it gained an extraordinary tensile strength.
In Fallingwater, the architect made use of ferro-concrete for the cantilevers (a combination of cement and metal wires for extra support). His decision to use reinforced concrete for the long-suspended balconies was revolutionary and allowed him to extend the balcony of the second-floor master bedroom – soaring six feet beyond the living room below.
Le Corbusier & Lannis Xenakis’ Philips Pavilion, Brussels
In 1958, the influential Swiss architect known as Le Corbusier’s was tasked with designing a pavilion for the ‘World’s Fair’ in Brussels. Being the first World’s Fair since World War II, the focus of the event was the celebration of the transformation of society after the destruction of the war – through the use of technology. Xenakis, the collaborating architect, led a team of artists and engineers in creating a unique final design which included a three-pronged tent, constructed with thin-shelled concrete panels of hyperbolic paraboloid shapes. The execution of the design involved a tensile structure of steel cables strung from steel posts at the end of the tent to form the hyperbolic paraboloids.
The shapes of the pavilion were extremely complex, making it impossible to use standard poured concrete for the structure. Xenakis eventually decided to precast concrete panels and hang them in tension from wire cables. The design makes use of technological innovations that were ground-breaking at the time.
Unité d’habitation, Marseille
Last but not least, another one of Le Corbusier’s successes, the impressive concrete Unité d’Habitation in France is one of the world’s most remarkable examples of brutalism in building. Brutalism refers to a style of architecture that emerged in the 50s, which led to the creation of buildings with huge, monolithic and blocky characteristics created with the large-scale use of poured concrete. Without the use of concrete mixers, such buildings would have taken dramatically longer in the construction phase. The architect created the slab-styled tower as a refuge for people displaced during World War II.
Now, the building has around 337 apartments, a hotel, a rooftop art program and shopping galleries inside, and is well-known for its strangely vibrant colour scheme that attracts the eye immediately.