An Abstract Chapel in Portugal and a Museum in Iran: 10 Unbuilt Projects Featuring Concrete Designs

A cornerstone of architectural innovation for centuries, concrete has transformed the structural capabilities of buildings worldwide. As one of the more versatile and durable building materials, concrete has aided architects and engineers in pushing the traditional boundaries of design. Today, it is the most widely used construction material on the planet. According to the Guardian, concrete is also a “lifestyle concept,” using its “gritty, urban” aesthetic to shape the imagination of all our architectures at every scale.

In this week’s curated selection of unbuilt projects that champion the use of concrete, many scales of the material are explored. Illia Sadek presents The Guggenheim Museum of Tehran, using concrete as the core structural material. However, the Barangaroo Pier Pavilion appears not to use much of the material, but it is constructed of HPLC, high-performance lightweight concrete. Whether it is a modern villa retreat in Japan or a chapel with volumetric masses in Portugal, the material has been used in many ways worldwide.

Read on to discover how these 10 projects use concrete, along with the description from the architects.


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Guggenheim Museum of Tehran / Ilia Salek

Iran

Considering the site location and the importance of social art, the Guggenheim Museum of Tehran aims to connect key areas of Tehran, including Laleh Park and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The project features a building with urban paths, allowing greater public access. Natural light conserves energy, while a central courtyard fosters public gatherings and performances. An interactive wall along the city paths enables visitors to engage with displays, blurring the boundary between inside and outside.

United Kingdom

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Driven by the client’s appreciation for nature, Saule House provides seamless connections with and sensitive responses to its woodland setting. Generous glazing allows social spaces to open into the garden while an overhanging canopy wraps around the home, creating a sense of unity. This also defines a courtyard, where welcoming seating surrounds the hearth. With elements like these, the home seeks to celebrate the summer solstice rituals embedded within Latvian culture–a meaningful nod to the client’s heritage. The overhanging canopy wraps around the entire perimeter of the home, upheld by three triangular, concrete structural supports.

Abstract Chapel / stu.dere–Oficina de Arquitetura e Design

Portugal

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For this project’s development, the organization of the outdoor space and its relationship with the cemetery elements were taken into account. The building fits into the natural environment of its surroundings. The mission of structuring and organizing the form falls on the external square with a water mirror, aligned with an existing chapel in the cemetery. The volumetry emerges as a response to the forces imposed by the place of the circular movement of the square.

Lebanon

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This powerful yet extremely simple new chalet has a spectacular beachfront site. The building covers only 130 sqm and has a total floor area of 150 sqm. On the ground floor, there is an entrance space, a bathroom, a kitchen, a living space, a terrace, and on the mezzanine floor, a bedroom. This beautiful concrete structure is crafted to create a unique experience as a living space. In addition, the most durable structures are made of concrete, which is a sustainable solution for everyone who values solidity. 

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The Zephyr House project emerged as a response to the contemporary demands of life and architecture, aiming to seamlessly blend modern needs with elements drawn from historical architecture. The goal is to make a substantial impact by curbing carbon footprints and energy consumption in buildings. Addressing this challenge involved creating four distinctive houses arranged in a modular pattern. By repeating these patterns, a town comprising sixteen houses was meticulously designed. The implementation process promises to be exceptionally swift and cost-effective, with efficient planning and construction methods.

Australia

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Future architects proposed a Pier Pavillion that emphasizes the rationale of improving an Australian precinct through architecture. The pavilion structure is constructed of High-Performance Lightweight Concrete (HPLC) that gently allows the roof structure to fold, creating a natural wavy feature. This north-oriented structure naturally absorbs the winter sun to penetrate through the tiered seating steps. Finishing the pavilion with white coated plaster provides a clean finish to the architecture, where it also forms a canvas for animated projection. 

na·ro: A Modern Retreat in a Japanese Garden / iraisynn.attinom studio

Japan

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On a small island in the Japanese archipelago, Iraisynn Attinom Studio designed a modern retreat. Basically, the building is two cantilevers following the lines of the landscape, made of concrete, emerging from the ground, projected from the rocky mountain, and facing the ocean. The design follows modern Japanese architectural principles such as simplicity, functionalism, straightforward expression of materials and construction, geometric composition devoid of superficial ornamentation, standardization of parts, and unity of house and garden. The general structure is a fine example of the post-and-beam system, meaning concrete columns that support the large slab, exterior non-load-bearing stone walls with big window openings, and thin and relatively scarce interior walls that create open spaces.

Nicaragua

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Pool House in the Forest is designed to testify to the harmonious coexistence between architecture and the natural environment. From its conceptualization, every facet of this project was a deliberate step towards creating visually permeable spaces where nature and design converge, thus providing a haven of well-being. The use of concrete walls provides not only a structural solution but a timeless texture, which, with the aging of, alludes to a passage of time that also applies to the vegetation surrounding the project; meanwhile the wood in the sky and graphite-colored composite aluminum further accentuates the organic and warm feeling, creating a harmonization between the materials and between the internal and external environments.

Hunaia / Simētriko

El Salvador

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Hunaia isn’t just a house; it’s an invitation to rediscover the very essence of tropical living. Perched on the pristine Salvadorian coastline, Hunaia harmoniously melds with its natural surroundings, crafting an architectural masterpiece that transcends the conventional. It’s a journey, a sensory adventure, and a sanctuary where the built and unbuilt spaces entwine seamlessly. From the outset, Hunaia was conceived as a dwelling that breathes with the site it graces. Its design, meticulously thought out from the outside in, embraces an intimate connection with the coastal environment. Here, the tangible and intangible meld into an exquisite ballet, where architecture becomes an art form.

India

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A perfect niche for a human being to live in is right in the lap of Mother Nature. He/she has to feel connected to nature to be his most entirely psychologically, spiritually &emotionally. Designing a home is challenging, and we need to find that niche inside a secure shelter. The more natural the niche is with the participation of all the natural elements like sun, wind, water, soil, and space, which can engage every sense of the end user with sound, smell, sight, touch, and taste, the more contentment the end user can feel.

HOW TO SUBMIT AN UNBUILT PROJECT

We highly appreciate the input from our readers and are always happy to see more projects designed by them. If you have an Unbuilt project to submit, click here and follow the guidelines. Our curators will review your submission and get back to you in case it is selected for a feature.

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