Comment and debate on the concrete industry’s most pressing issues


Our popular event Cafe Concrete returns on Tuesday 19 March 2019. This pop-up event will provide inspiration and information on the design and construction of visual concrete.

Final Frame: La Marseillaise, Provence

Jean Nouvel’s 135m-high offi ce tower in Marseille has a lightweight ultrahigh- performance concrete facade painted in 27 shades of red, white and blue. Th e matrix of brise-soleils comprises 3,500 separate precast concrete elements, with each panel painted in up to six colours to create an ombré effect. Nouvel has described the tower as a “new architectural anthem for the region”: the blue is meant to represent the city’s sky, the red its terracotta rooftops and the white the rugged coastline.

Photo Michèle Clavel

From the archive: Winer 1957


“Adding to an old building is a ticklish business these days. It has not always been so: the historical conscience is a new thing,” wrote CQ in 1957. The observation had been triggered by the fierce debate surrounding George Pace’s restoration of the bomb-damaged Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff.

The main point of contention was the central pulpitum which, although a revival of a constructional form used in medieval times, was bracingly modern.

A parabolic arch of reinforced concrete, 25ft high, spanned the nave, with a concealed platform for the organ and a sculpture by Jacob Epstein of a distorted Christ in Majesty. “The arch has been criticized as being ‘out of place’,” wrote CQ. “This looks like another way of saying that concrete, used as concrete and not hiding it, has no place in a stone building.

” But far from destroying the cathedral atmosphere, this new layer of history had done much to restore it, CQ concluded. “With a design of today and material of today, a sense of aspiration, of movement, is established, in mood as Gothic as the arcades flanking the nave: infinite riches in a little room.”

The book, The World Recast: 70 Buildings from 70 Years of Concrete Quarterly, is out now, available from 

Access the full CQ archive here