concrete tadao

6 concrete masterpieces by Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando is world-renowned architect, famous for using concrete to create dazzling buildings. He’s designed everything from churches to apartment buildings. Besides concrete, he designs incorporate the use of natural light as much as possible. We list some of his top works here.

 

  1. The Church of Light, Osaka

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The Church of the Light was completed in 1990’s as part of a renovation to an existing church. The Church is famous for the cross facade. While it’s not particularly special from the outside, the cross cutout gives the chapel a whole new aesthetic. Almost haunting.

 

  1. Omotesando Hills, Tokyo

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The ritzy hills of Omotesando is full of designer shops, Meiji-era architecture and this fitting Ando-designed shopping mall in his signature glass-and-concrete combo. Tenants include Harry Winston, Chloe and Max Brenner.

 

  1. 21 21 Design Sight, Tokyo

21 21 design open buildings

This building was designed by Ando in collaboration with Issey Miyake. The museum’s structure is modelled after a flowing piece of cloth. Floor-to-ceiling glass allows the maximum use of natural light.

 

  1. Langen Foundation, Germany

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The Langen Foundation is a museum dedicated to Oriental and modern art. Ando wanted to create a tranquil space where visitors could admire the works in relative peace.

 

  1. Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe

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Kobe was devastated by a 1995 earthquake, forcing the city to rebuild Ando designed this building with strength and security in mind. The museum is located next to the water and has a harbourside plaza for visitors to relax

 

  1. Glass House, South Korea

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This is a museum located on the grounds of the Phoenix Island Resort, with the surrounding landscape designed around it.

concrete

3 areas you can spruce up with concrete work

Home and office improvements need to be done from time to time and concrete work is a practical, cost-effective solution.

 

  • The garage

It’s a place to park the car, and you mightn’t see it as much else. But the neglect builds up over time until all you’re left with is a space dotted with big oil stains and dust everywhere.

Homeowners honestly don’t think too much about their garage floor, but the final effect knocks people off their feet. Resurfacing and resealing the existing concrete floor, or even decorating it with an acid stain or paint chips, gives the room a whole new look. A white garage floor will reflect the natural sunlight and brighten the space considerably.

 

  • Your kitchen

Interested buyers and visitors judge homes by two rooms: the kitchen and the bathroom. The former is the heart of the home and the majority of people spend most time there.

Polished concrete floors will modernise the area without much effort. You can even use a concrete slab as a kitchen bench. Staining it will give it a ‘marble’ effect, or you can go for an exposed aggregate finish.

To put up with general wear and tear like spills, the floor is cured and sealed before anyone’s allowed to walk on it. That way any stains can easily get cleaned.

 

  • Home exterior

Concrete work like paving and pathways gives your home ‘curb appeal’, as the real estate people say.  The work you do will last for decades and boost the resale value when the time comes. Do a stencilled path or driveway in a unique pattern. You can also ‘define’ the exterior garden beds with a concrete boarder, giving the yard a sense of order.

Applying some finishes in these areas will brighten their appearance without too much effort. The options are endless, and luckily for customers, concrete work doesn’t cost the earth. Differents areas will need different treatment, like sealing and such, but your contractor will know what to do. 

 

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10 stencilled concrete design ideas

Stencilled concrete isn’t a new innovation, but it’s a popular option for homeowners wanting to renovate, and for investors wanting to put the finishing touches on an investment property. You might’ve seen some of these patterns before on someone else’s landscape and decided you want to ‘borrow’ one for your own.

 

  • Flagstone

This is one of the most generic stencilled concrete patterns available, but you can dress it up with bright colours to make it stand out.

 

  • Herringbone

Resembling the bones of the fish, this type of design is common with pavers  as it makes  use of their long and short edges. You can use this pattern in your pergola and barbecue areas.

 

  • European Fan

This design is made up of small square tiles spread in an arching fan pattern. It’s also called ‘fish scales’.

 

  • Wood/timber

Yes, you really can get concrete to look like wood. At least you’ll never have to worry about it rotting! Have this stencilled concrete design on the patio for a rustic feel.

 

  • Compass

This adds a touch of pizazz to an otherwise plain driveway. The compass comes in a variety of shapes and designs, just speak with your contractor about what you want. Get the creative juices flowing and pick out a few colours to make the design really stand out.

 

  • Diamond tile

This pattern comprises of octagonal tiles with square or ‘diamond’ tiles in between.

 

  • Interlocking diamonds

Placing this stencilled concrete pattern in the middle breaks up monotonous driveways. To get the diamonds to show up properly, choose contrasting colours.

 

  • Convict brick

This style mimics the crudely cut stone made by convicts back in the day when they were blasting rocks from quarries and cliffsides. You can find the real deal in heritage homes. In stencil form, it’s a cross between a cobblestone and a flagstone.

 

  • Patios and pathways

Having the patio connected can really tie a landscape together. You can go from one end of the yard to the other without having to tread a foot on the grass. This feature is good if you want to have a yard or garden for people to admire, rather than play in.

 

  • Driveways to front doors

Having an even pathway when your arms are loaded with bags saves you the worry of tripping, at least. A seamless path from the driveway to the front door will give a good first impression to visitors and potential tenants (if you’re a property manager).

 

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5 finishes that add value, from polished concrete to modern art

You need to update your office, your home, or even one of your commercial properties to get ready for resale. Or you just need to renovate because the block was built 20 years ago and it’s TIME. Fenix Concreting has completed several renovation projects, both domestic and commercial, and we list here some of the five top touches that go well with your new polished concrete floor.

 

  • Polished concrete

Industrial style living and office spaces are the new vogue, just look at the Wool Stores in Teneriffe, now million dollar apartments and lofts. Rather than rip up the old floors, contractors were briefed to resurface them, creating a polished concrete look. This gives old floors a second chance at life.

There’s also ways to use polished concrete that don’t involve flooring. Customers order custom concrete benchtops in place of stone because a  cheaper price gets the same result. You can order polished concrete with aggregate through it, or even a stained finish.  

 

  • Neutral colour palette

Don’t depend on loud colours to decorate your home or business. It’ll be distracting for you and your visitors. Reds, oranges, and the like are ‘hype’ colours that rev up the brain.

Pale blues, pinks, beiges, and eggshells are great neutral options that interior designers will easily dress. They’re also good to use on a feature wall, if you insist on having a splash of paint somewhere.

 

  • Use accessories for colour

When you use a neutral palette, it means you let the accessories do the talking. With polished concrete floors, you can lay down a coloured or patterned rug. If you have furniture with grey or white fabric, invest in some cushions and throws.

Polished concrete walls in art galleries are great backdrops for the works on display. A plain backing forces the eye to focus on the art. Plus, it’s a classy touch.

 

  • Industrial-style fittings

Restaurants, galleries, and even some homes that go down the ‘industrial style’ road purchase light fittings to match the theme. Fixtures with exposed bulbs, such as ‘plumbing pipe lights’, have become increasingly popular.

 

  • Outdoor living

One extra living area equals a higher reserve price! Patios and alfresco areas are irreplaceable as part of the Australian lifestyle. It’s a place to wine and dine, or just sit down and breathe after a long day at work. In a commercial build, having an outdoor space is vital to employee health so they can get some much-needed sun and fresh air. You can use your polished concrete patio for informal meetings with clients, or leave it accessible to employees for some fun downtime after work.

 

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Get creative with your concrete driveway

Homeowners refresh their concrete driveway when they’re looking to sell, or just looking for a change. With property prices soaring and people becoming pickier about style, the driveway is the easiest outdoor area to take care of when renovating.

the average concrete driveway has come a long way from being a grey slab with exposed aggregate finishes. The latter is certainly a classic, but smooth finishes are favoured because they’re easier to walk on with bare feet and look ‘cleaner’.

Rather than single colours and plain finishes, driveways with a stencilled pattern are the new normal. This gives the property owner the chance to put their ‘stamp’ in stone, so to speak. Stencils are laid over the concrete before it dries and then lifted, creating whatever effect the owner orders. Patterns like stars, compasses, and pavers are etched in driveways around Australia, normally in a multitude of colours. The paver effect is popular because it’s cheap, and uses less time and materials than the real thing. Another common design is a single coloured path with a paver effect at the edge in another shade.

Concreters like Fenix work closely with the homeowners so the desired effect is achieved the first time. If the owner of the property has examples of driveways they’d like to emulate, that is certainly  helpful, though contractors might have some designs on hand. They’ll also have colour charts to choose from. Colours are finalised during the quoting process.

In a world of renovation shows, an expensive property market, and choosy buyers, homeowners and property investors are more concerned with  how their driveway looks. After all, the whole facade of the house is the first thing prospective buyers  see. An old, tired, and cracked concrete driveway doesn’t make a good impression. This is easily fixed with an experienced contractor, some design ideas, and a different colour…or two, or three.

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A driveway in Coolum

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How commercial concrete projects are different

Councils and businesses tender commercial concrete contracts to refresh tired or unsafe spaces. Concrete specialists like Fenix get the call for projects like this because they have the right tools and experience. These in turn lead to short turnaround times.

Commercial concrete’ defines a project that’s not residential. It’s a broad area including office blocks, pathways, and even gully pits. Footpaths, roads, drains, and the like are the concerns of city councils. Footpaths need  some ‘refreshing’ every decade or so thanks to tree roots growing underneath, general cracking, and wear and tear.

Businesses put out contracts for commercial concrete projects of their own for any number of reasons. If they’ve bought an old property, for example, it’ll need some updating. Concreters can tear up and lay new flooring and resurface the car park.  

Commercial concrete projects are special because the footpaths, floors, and the like are subject to large amounts of stress every day. This is from people walking over it, as well as cars driving  and parking. The concrete needs to have a high psi count, usually 4000 and above, to last. Contractors never create slabs with just concrete mixture alone. Rebar, or steel mesh, is laid first and the mix is poured over it. The tensile strength of the rebar plus the durability of the hard concrete makes a near-indestructible slab.

Safety is also a concern when laying new foundations. Restaurants, shops, and event spaces with concrete floors need a surface that won’t leave staff or customers injured. There’s a need for smooth, polished surfaces that are easy to clean and resistant to stains. Each project requires a different finish, as well.

Commercial concrete is different from residential projects because it’s used to make or improve businesses and council areas. All over Brisbane, there’s need for contractors like Fenix to lay  new footpaths or resurface  driveways.  

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How concreting adds value

Concreting is done before almost everything else  during a building project. It’s a base material that nobody pays much mind to, until something needs to get done. Concreting adds value to properties in various ways, not just monetary.

 

Tough as concrete

The material, when poured as a slab combined with rebar, withstands a lot of pressure. Domestic blends are typically 3500 psi (pounds per square inch) and won’t crack unless you plan on dropping a few bowling balls on it.

Concreting projects aren’t always large; sometimes all that’s needed is some resurfacing. Old slabs with a few cracks are due for a facelift, and your contractor won’t need a lot of time to get it done.

 

Designer concrete

When you renovate your house, having a concrete floor can add that ‘industrial’ feel that’s so popular in magazines and television shows. There’s also concrete countertops, concrete stairs, the list goes on.

Speak with your contractor about your ideas  and how you want the end result to look. Concreting and interior design actually go together quite well. There’s plenty of finishes and colouring options. Acid staining and polishing can give the impression that a slab is made of granite or marble. This is a great look in kitchens, bathrooms,  and outdoor leisure areas.

 

Patch-ups and coverings

Cracks and the like are trip hazards. You see these mostly on old footpaths. One wrong step and next thing you know you’re eating pavement. Commercial patch-ups are disruptive if they’re large scale, like a carpark or long stretch of footpaths. For safety’s sake, though, they’re necessary after a few decades.

Covercrete, or spray concrete, is easily and quickly applied to tired surfaces. When a space needs a facelift but the ground doesn’t need ripping up, covercrete is the way to go. This type of concreting adds value to a home because you can get a design stencilled in it. This is what you see in driveways and some patios. There’s plenty of ways to design covercrete, from ‘pavers’ patterns in red ochre to a fleur-de-lis in royal blue.   

concreting

Concreting at home: finishing touches

A lot of thought goes into concreting – it’s not just pouring liquid cement into a mould and waiting for it to set. After the technical aspects like tensile strength and dimensions are settled, the fun things are next.

 

A little polish

Or not. Domestic concreting projects, like interior flooring, will need a polished surface for comfort. Paths and driveways are more likely to have an exposed aggregate surface. This finish is achieved when the surface cement is blasted away to reveal the larger stones underneath.

Smooth, polished, concrete is a popular choice for interior decorating. Warehouses developed into housing and apartments often come with pre-existing concrete slabs that the new owners can redecorate at their whim. Some choose to leave it plain (or just re-apply some sealant). Others will spray coloured covercrete on their driveway or even do an acid-stain inside to ‘freshen up’ the space.

 

Colour

Concreting isn’t boring; you can have a bit of fun with it. Speak to your contractor about coloured options for your driveway, patio, or path. You rarely go past a house with a plain grey slab out the front. Instead, homeowners and developers will choose a colour scheme that matches the exterior of the home.

 

Design

Some like it plain, others like it patterned. Your contractor will tell you that they can ‘stamp’ concrete to mimic the patterns of wood or marble. They can also use covercrete (a spray adhesive concrete) to make designs on the slabs. You can use concrete as a canvas and get creative with it to make something unique.

Keeping it simple colour-wise is fine, though designers and homeowners might choose to mix it up with a bit of concrete cutting. This type of design is found on patios and driveways, giving the impression that the area is made of large tiles instead of a concrete slab.

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Concrete solutions for the home

Concrete for the home is nothing new. The “industrial” trend has seen warehouse conversions and new home build with entirely concrete interiors. It’s getting a better rap for its design potential, rather than its use for making council footpaths. We’ve listed some of the common uses for concrete in the home below.

 

Patios

You can’t walk into a backyard without walking on a patio first. They’re an essential part of the Australian way of life; where else will you put the barbecue?

Making a patio isn’t that much different from making a driveway. You still need to go over specifics with your contractor. This includes the size of the surface area, the type of finish you want and the required strength of the concrete.  

 

Floors

Warehouses that are converted into homes more often keep the original floor. A bonus of this is the psi strength of the concrete will be around 4000 – 5000 psi. This type of concrete is used in “high traffic” areas. Any lesser type would crack faster.  

Polished concrete floors are popular in new home builds that want to have a “modern” finish. Concrete floors are low maintenance and easy to clean with a broom or steam-mop.

 

Steps

Indoor or outdoor, concrete stairs are reliable and sturdy. They can withstand high amounts of foot traffic, unlike varnished timber. It is also waterproof. When high amounts of rain or flooding occur, the steps will remain standing.

You’re more likely to find concrete steps out the front of a home, but they’re slowly making their way indoors as a design quirk. An example of this is art galleries, museums or display homes.

 

Tips

Concrete is tough but is prone to staining, same as carpets or clothing. This is because concrete is a porous material. Penetrating sealants “plug” the pores and bonds with it at a molecular level. Topical sealant sticks to the concrete’s surface and is fine at resisting minor stains.

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Five Questions About Concrete Driveways

Home upgrades are important for fixing up a “dated” home and adding resale value when the time comes. Old, cracked or generally unpleasant-looking driveways are one improvement people might not give much thought to, but they really should. Driveways can turn into a money pit when not laid correctly.  

Do I need a base layer?

Any building needs a steady foundation and driveways are no different. Loose soil isn’t good for a construction project. This leads to cracking, costing you more than what you were originally quoted thanks to repairs. For base layers, the soil is compacted and crushed stones spread across the surface area to stabilize the concrete when it sets.

What concrete type do I need?

Different types of concrete exist for different jobs. The concrete will need to have a high psi rating, meaning it can withstand a lot of pressure bearing down. For concrete driveways the contractor would recommend a 4000 psi mix. This blend can withstand 281 kilograms per square centimetre.

Should I seal the driveway?

You can’t just have the driveway laid and leave it at that. Nature and lifestyle need consideration. Cars leak grease, things get dropped or splashed, and there are forces of nature to contend with. A penetrative sealant will protect the driveway from these, plus moisture absorption.

What’s the warranty?

Good contractors will have workmanship warranties that last for a year or more. If a contractor lacks a policy, it’s best to look elsewhere. Ask for a copy of the warranty to check what’s covered so that you’ll get the best value for money. Good contractors will take responsibility for their work during and after construction. This way if accidents happen, you won’t be out of pocket.

When can you start?

Of course contractors have slow periods, but if it’s perpetual then there’s a problem. One way workers get found is through word of mouth, and when they have a lot of recommendations they’ll be busy. If you sign with a reputable contractor, they might not be able to start work straight away. However, they’ll do their best to get to you as quick as they can.