I like ruins because what remains is not the total design, but the clarity of thought, the naked structure, the spirit of the thing
Exposed cement, otherwise known as exposed concrete, is an architectural way of using concrete which consists in not covering exposed surfaces with plaster or cladding them in other materials (stone, bricks or tiles), but rather leaves them visible, revealing the bare beauty and accentuating the structural characteristics of the building.
Modern architecture, especially the architectural style known as Brutalism (from the French world beton brut, meaning raw concrete), has had a long romance with the expressive potential and textural appeal of exposed concrete.
This fascination with cement is quite evident from the sculptural yet stark silhouette of Le Corbusier's Unité D’Habitation in Marseilles (Marseilles, 1950) and the city of Chandigarh. Perhaps it was these two creations that marked the dawn of an architectural day that would celebrate the raw splendour of exposed reinforced concrete.
This technique showcases cement, using it not only as a mere means of construction, but showcasing its pared-back majesty as a major part of the architectural design project. Because today an architectural use of concrete really is an immensely powerful solution which allows you not only to address technical-construction issues, but also to achieve savings and create a striking aesthetic.
Tadao Ando and the encounter between light and matter in fair-face concrete
The Japanese architect Tadao Ando, one of the greatest authorities on architecture in the twentieth century and a leading figure of contemporary architecture, is known for his predominant use of exposed concrete for creations that have become famous all over the world.
Tadao Ando borrowed reinforced concrete from modern building techniques and used it, often in the form of uninterrupted masonry walls, as the primary material for his architectural projects and a means to shape space while providing colour, texture and acoustics.
Like this, the use of exposed reinforced concrete on the whole building provided:
• a solution for complex design issues, such as defining formwork
• a way to ensure the quality of surfaces, joints and connections between floors and vertical surfaces.
Improving the control systems for these design matters has now become part and parcel of the cultural resources of the Tadao Ando studio and is a kind of constantly-evolving design manual based on past achievements.
Exposed cement wall: how it can be done with VALPAINT’s METEORE 10 CEMENTO
An Italian lead player in the manufacture of decorative paints and coatings, Valpaint has drawn much inspiration from cement with all its peculiarities and adaptable nature. The hues, texture, feel and patterning are all vital characteristics of the product that Valpaint defines as CEMENT.
Valpaint boasts a rich collection of exposed reinforced concrete finishes which goes under the name of METEORE 10 CEMENTO. The basic product is the same, but the company has developed variations on the theme with a series of graphic and textural effects:
• METEORE 10 CEMENTO COMPATTO
Let's take a closer look.
METEORE 10 CEMENTO COMPATTO: the smooth-version of the fair-face cement coating for interiors
METEORE 10 CEMENTO COMPATTO is a decorative effect which recreates a cement surface with a smooth texture.
This particular version gives subtle texture, yet also injects personality into any environment and evokes an exciting metropolitan mood. Although the various tones chime with a traditional cement aesthetic, the array available will give designers plenty of leeway for creativity and variation.
METEORE 10 CEMENTO VINTAGE: the “stencilled” exposed concrete coating
This decorative effect with a clearly-visible stencilled effect brings to mind surfaces which have been decorated over and over again and bear all the marks of the history of the building.
With the use of special stencils (either standard or customised), you can create highly distinctive surfaces with a retro vibe.
METEORE 10 CEMENTO LARGE: exposed cement style meant to reproduce the look of sleek shuttering blocks
By use of a special decorative technique and METEORE 10 CEMENTO LARGE, you can recreate the textural feel and aesthetic appearance of panels of exposed cement cast in shuttering blocks.
The focus is not just on the symmetry and regular pattern of the elements making up the formwork, but also the authentic texture of the cement.
METEORE 10 CEMENTO SLIM: the cement coating that looks like narrow-panelled shuttering blocks
In the Cemento Slim version, a finished look is achieved and recalls the geometrical neatness of narrow-panel formwork creating concrete slabs arranged in orderly repetition one after another.
Easy to apply, it provides aesthetic results that are perfect for sophisticated solutions with great symbolic significance.
METEORE 10 CEMENTO RIGATO: cement walls that energise interiors with edgy appeal
The ridging obtained with METEORE 10 CEMENTO RIGATO puts the spotlight on the textural interest of this decorative finish.
Suggestive of an even fabric weave, it lends itself to refined settings and instantly redefines living spaces. The distinctive ridged pattern also casts attractive shadows in natural or artificial light, giving a powerful sense of visual depth.
METEORE 10 CEMENTO LEVIGATO: for mimicking the appearance of a breeze-block wall
The orderly sequence of the breeze blocks ushers in urban undertones. The aesthetic of METEORE 10 CEMENTO LEVIGATO replicates the tidy harmonious pattern of row upon row of cinder blocks.
There is a broad and distinctive spectrum of finishes to be explored for designs that faithfully reproduce the characterful authenticity of cement surfaces and channel its aesthetic and symbolic force.