In this Material Focus installment, we examine béton brut—roughly finished exposed concrete—a modern design idea popularized by architects like Le Corbusier and Auguste Perret.
For a family in Lima, a team from local firm 51-1 Arquitectos built Casa Serpiente, which meanders around 25 existing trees. Concrete is used extensively in the house, seen here on the ceiling of the office and walls of the pool. Lush foliage softens the rough-hewn surfaces. Photo by: Cristobal Palma
“In every project, we try to do one thing that’s handmade, a custom design where the only way we could afford to do it is if we did it ourselves,” says architect Meejin Yoon. For a house Yoon designed for her parents in Arlington, Virginia, the handmade detail was a cast-concrete fountain located in a compact courtyard.
“My apartment in Brussels is the most architect-like, with its concrete feel,” De Smedt says of his rather brutalist interior. “It puzzles me why more people aren’t into concrete—it’s the most practical material. It’s warm, if you do it right. And you can clean it in about two seconds.” Photo by: Frederik Vercruysse
Textured concrete walls are a signature of architect Byoung-soo Cho’s work. Here, he relaxes in the first-floor living room, where paintings by up-and-coming Germany-based Chinese artist Ruo Bing Chen play off a sofa and coffee table designed by the architect himself. Photo by: Jeremy Murch