Concrete Elegance: Texture & Context

Concrete Elegance is a celebration of recent, exemplary, concrete architecture, chaired by Elaine Toogood and produced by The Concrete Centre and The Building Centre.

Below are the projects discussed on Tuesday 12 June 2018.

This evening lecture featured two buildings whose design and use of concrete is strongly influenced by the context of their location. Templeman Library by Penoyre & Prasad Architects and Price & Myers engineers is the refurbishment and extension to an existing brutalist building, using exposed cast-in-situ concrete and external architectural precast concrete fins. Yorkshire Sculpture Park Visitors Centre, by Feilden Fowles Architects and Engineers HRW, employs heavily textured and layered concrete walls to reflect its emergence from the earth in this rural setting.

Each project will be presented by their architect and structural engineering team, sharing design development and their construction experiences of creating fine examples of contemporary concrete architecture.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park Visitors Centre, presented by Fergus Feilden, director and founder of Feilden Fowles & Greg Nordberg, structural engineer at engineersHRW

The new Visitor Centre at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is set into the hillside of a former quarry, a location that has informed and inspired the construction and appearance of its enclosing walls. Layers of concrete, with different pigments and aggregates were treated to create a heavily textured surface, reminiscent of geological strata. Inside smooth cast in situ concrete walls support a saw tooth roof, with a board-marked surface.  The building will accommodate a restaurant, shop, public foyer and gallery space and is due to open in September 2018.

Templeman Library, University of Kent, presented by Suzi Winstanley, partner at Penoyre & Prasad and Andy Toohey, Price & Myers 

The University of Kent’s library was designed and constructed by Lord Holford in 1965. For its recent major extension and renovation Penoyre & Prasad Architects drew on ideas inherent in the Brutalist architecture – honesty of materials and the display of structural concrete as an architectural element.  External precast concrete fins on the fa├žade pick up the vertical rhythm of the original buildings piers and internally the cast- in-situ, structural concrete frame is  exposed. The use of concrete provides the structure for long spans, creating flexible internal spaces and is also an important component of the building’s sustainability measures, teaming high thermal mass with ground air-cooling and natural ventilation to avoid the need for air-conditioning. 

The Concrete Elegance is a series of lectures that celebrates recent, exemplary, concrete architecture, chaired by Elaine Toogood and produced by The Building Centre and The Concrete Centre.

Both projects also feature in Concrete Quarterly Autumn 2018 available online at and will be added to the CQ Archive at

The next Concrete Elegance event will be held on 19th September 2018 and will fetature the V&A Dundee.

Visit to book you spot as places fill up quickly.

Photo credits: © Feilden Fowles Architects