Coloured concrete exudes warmth and character, both essential qualities to consider when designing public spaces.

 

Dick-bruna-house-utrecht
Dick Bruna House, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Photo by Douglas Johnston

Concrete doesn't always imply gray and cold. It can in fact take on a wide range of chromatic, textural and emotional complexions that elevate the aesthetic qualities of a building. From pastel hues to vibrant tones, we take a look at several public buildings that have used coloured concrete to brighten up the space.

Coloured concrete offers the same durable characteristics associated with normal concrete but with the added vibrancy and character of colour. It is a great way to make a statement, whether it be inside or out, and can be used to highlight the monolithic character of a building or draw attention to a striking office reception.

From accent walls to floor treatment, dyed concrete is sure to make a great impression. But how exactly does it work?

internationa-centre-accommodation-photo-fernando-guerra.jpg
International accommodation centre for the oceanological observatory in Banyuls-sur-Mer, France. By Atelier Fernandez & Serres 

Perhaps the most subtle way to colour concrete is to blend various aggregates into it - natural stones like bazalt or lava, glass, broken brick or slag can all be used as aggregates.

Another way to dye concrete is through glazing. Coloured glazing lends concrete a transparent hue and, depending on the level of dilution, colours can become particularly intense. Unlike aggregates, the glaze remains on the surface layer and even though it has to be renewed after some time, it still acts as a protective barrier from the elements.

If you want colour throughout the full depth of the concrete, not just on the surface, you need to add a pigment. The most common hues, as conveyed in our selection, are red and ochre tones, but violet, brown, black and green are all possible, albeit more expensive due to the nature of the pigments needed.

nursery_school_treviso-inside-out-colours.jpg
Covolo di Pederobba Nursery School Building, Treviso, Italy. By C+S ASSOCIATI

Architects use coloured concrete to express metaphorical concepts or convey certain emotions through colour and rich textures. This is why we think dyed concrete would also be a great strategic tool in commercial real estate where first impressions need to be curated.

Take a look at our selection and imagine... Where in your office could you use coloured concrete? What part of your office reception could be brought to life with colour? Let us know on Twitter.

coloured-concrete-yellow-accent-S-M.A.O-Picon-wine-cellars-Ciudad-Real
Wine-cellars in Picon, Ciudad Real. By S-M.A.O

bold-signage-on-concrete-wayfinding.jpg
MSCP — Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. By BOB Design

coloured-concrete-lintel-bar-scotland
Coloured concrete lintel bar in Nando’s Sauchiehall Street, Scotland. By STAC Architecture

scroll-icecream-counter-one-design-office-coloured-concrete-design.jpg
Pigmented concrete bar for Scroll Ice Cream's flagship store in Melbourne shopping centre. By One Design Office and Studio Twocan

coloured-concrete-brazil-architects-photo-nelson-kon.jpg

coloured-concrete-bold-orange.jpg
Image Credit: Robert Orchardson, Endless façade, installation views, Courtesy of Contemporary Art Gallery. Photo: Scott Massey

10-Cal-Tower-The-Labyrinth -Photographer-Wison-Tungthunya .jpg
10 Cal Tower - The Labyrinth, a red concrete public installation in Bangasen, Thailand. By Supermachine studio. Photo by Wison Tungthunya

Made in Bulgaria, raised in Morocco, "matured" in the UK, Elissaveta is our Editor-in-Chief. Her career started in the field of architecture and design where she developed a talent for creative thinking and an eye for aesthetics. In 2014, she found her calling in design journalism and now has over three years’ experience in writing about design & architecture.