Concrete is an admirable material which we see in an array of forms and finishes throughout countless building designs. I recently attended a concrete seminar at the ‘Future Build’ convention in Melbourne to hear about innovative precast concrete construction (www.futurebuild.net.au). It is generally used in commercial or major residential unit developments, but not as often for a single residence. In smaller residential applications concrete more commonly is installed using off-form (poured in place) concrete. The consideration of pre-cast concrete in this instance would be for the concrete aesthetics married with efficiencies during construction on site.
With all building material choice today we must also consider, aside from the desired aesthetics, what will it contribute thermally to a design and how can this be best applied. At the ‘future build’ precast seminar I heard about some of the resources the national precast concrete association (www.nationalprecast.com.au) are working on and are soon to release an ‘R-value’ calculation tool for evaluating the thermal benefits of precast concrete. I was also advised by the NPCAA that the BCA will soon recognise concrete’s thermal mass contribution to a project. The concrete structure will need to be thoughtfully designed and installed using products such as ‘sandwich panel’ or a reverse masonry type wall where the large mass of concrete is built to the inside face of the wall.
Before leaping into using pre-cast concrete for a small residential project I have a few hesitations. For instance what time is needed to carefully detail drawings to ensure there are no problems on site with ‘cast in’ service positions and what will the cost impact be to the project compared with more traditional methods of residential construction. In the meantime I will enjoy the appeal of exposed concrete finish in its array of design options. I have come across a range of ways people have used concrete with a snapshot of these ideas shown in the images below. Enjoy!!
Picture reference www.houzz.com/photos/334538/Grounded—Modern-Landscape-Architecture-modern-exterior-san-diego
Picture reference www.houzz.com/photos/87376/hall-modern-hall-other-metros
Picture reference http://architectureau.com/articles/small-house-by-domenic-alvaro
Picture reference www.theplan.it/J/images/stories/Riviste/The%20Plan%20027/027-6.jpg
Picture reference www.nhit-shis.org/modern-okurayama-apartment-design-by-kazuyo-sejima/03-okurayama-apartment-exterior-concrete-solid-architecture