The Preservation of Historic Concrete Structures
English Heritage, the body responsible for the conservation of old England, recently released a list of 14 new buildings to be given protected status – and they’re all concrete, yes…concrete!
Back in the Day
For most people in the UK, when someone mentions English Heritage, historic rambling country estates, world-renowned monuments, castle ruins, and even dilapidated mills, cottages and barns come to mind.
But what about our more recent heritage? It seems absurd to preserve the daunting high rise office blocks defaced by graffiti and intimidating rat runs of downtrodden council estates, but concrete has become a large part of our modern landscape.
Concrete is a huge part of our Heritage
Despite English Heritage, and countless other organisations, deciding that these concrete structures are indeed worthy of preservation, to evidence an important chapter in the evolution of british architecture, there are those that disagree.
The brutalism of the concrete age is something that many would choose to remove from our landscape to make space for new, more appealing developments. And with the UK’s towns and cities becoming increasingly crowded, and building land disappearing at an alarming rate, does it really make sense to preserve what many would call a mistake in Britain’s architectural development?
The Rise of Concrete Architecture
After the Second World War, concrete construction in the UK began to become more popular. Improved methods of reinforcing, from steel to fibre-glass, were introduced, allowing greater versatility of design and construction.
Concrete was a cheap and efficient way to rebuild after the war, and allowed a great many new architects to experiment with new designs and styles. Not only that, but it allowed for the rapid expansion of Britain’s workplaces in response to the extreme change in our workforce.
As a result concrete construction boomed and has now firmly imbedded itself in the architectural history of the UK.
That’s why the 14 newly listed buildings are all commercial constructions, built between 1964 and 1984, and show a different side to concrete builds. Here’s a few of our favourites:
The Alpha Tower in Birmingham
This impressive 29 storey office block was designed by architect George Marsh, who is also responsible for the Centre Point Building in London.
The first structure of it’s kind to be completely clad in double-skinned panels of glass fibre reinforced concrete.
Mountbatten House, Basingstoke
Formally the Gateway House, this layered concrete build was designed and constructed in the 1970s. James Russell then landscaped the structure, leading it to be known as the ‘Hanging gardens of Basingstoke.’
So, love it or hate it, it looks like concrete is here to stay – and not just in the past. With many of the features that made concrete such an appealing building material still very much relevant today – cost-effective, versatile, robust, etc. – it’s easy to see why many new projects are still utilising concrete construction methods in modern builds.
EKA Concrete have years of experience in the concrete industry and can assist with any project – whether you’re planning a new build and taking design ideas from some of these listed structures, or your development is focusing on a more contemporary architectural style – we have the products and techniques to help.