The Possibilities of Pigmented Concrete: 18 Buildings Infused With Color

18th February 2019 | Eduardo Souza

When we think of concrete, the color gray generally comes to mind. The traditional mixture of concrete, which comprises cement, gravel, sand, and water may vary in color depending on elements and admixtures but naturally varies from light to dark gray. However, compounds that add pigment to the mixture are becoming increasingly prevalent and popular,  as they infuse the concrete with hues more stable than paint. These shades result from the addition of oxides:  yellow, red and their derivations (eg. brown) are obtained with the addition of iron oxide; chromium and cobalt oxide create the greens and blues, respectively. For black concrete, it is common to use black iron oxide and carbon oxide combined with pozzolanic cement.

Pigmenting the concrete can go beyond the aesthetic function. It can work to enhance the impression of a volume, contextualize a building in its surroundings, or even refer to the design concept. See below a selection of projects that use pigmented concrete, and note its possibilities:

Red concrete

– Casa das Histórias Paula Rego / Eduardo Souto de Moura

The building can be immediately recognized thanks to its dual pyramid towers and the red concrete used in its construction.

– Galería Solar S. Roque / Manuel Maia Gomes

The building is a passage between two others. Through the red pigmented concrete, it simultaneously merges and detaches from the previous volumes.

– Casa Terra / Bernardes Arquitetura

“Casa Terra comes from the interleaving of parallel walls made of pigmented concrete perpendicular to the central circulation gallery. The articulation between these components generates spaces that sometimes delineate residential functions or create patios that open to the main garden.

Black concrete

– Villa Montagnola / Attilio Panzeri & Partners

In this residence, the architect makes a striking contrast between the dark exterior, the wooden frames, and the completely white interior

– Textilmacher / tillicharchitektur

“Depending on the season, time of day, climate and incidence of light, the facade changes constantly in character.” “The matte surface of the concrete pigmented with anthracite responds to its surroundings.”

– L23 House / Pitagoras Group

“The visible pigmented concrete defines the structural volume. Anthracite zinc has been chosen to coat a few facade panels.”

Yellow concrete

– Hornitos Hotel / Gonzalo Mardones V Arquitectos

“Each volume was made of reinforced concrete pigmented with the colors of the desert intensifying the intention of mimesis or camouflage.”

– 2 Houses in Lerin / azpilicueta arquitectura y paisaje

Yellow pigmented concrete blends with local buildings built in adobe.

– Cais do Sertão Museum / Brasil Arquitetura

“The ocher yellow pigmented concrete represents the warm color of the soil of the Brazilian agreste.”

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All photos credited to each photographer.

Author: Eduardo Souza