6th Concrete Design Competition // Elegance (in the Netherlands): exploring intelligent solutions - competition, 2014

These melodramatic columns of light integrate architecture, structure and material elegantly. With relatively simple means, a new kind of column is created that is so much more elegant than the usual massive column. The additions of light, tactility, scale and drama transform the column from a functional necessity into architecture in itself. This innovative side of the design unquestionable deserves a prize. The study to different building systems is a bit questionable. Perhaps here the idea could be elaborated further, for example with physical concrete models. In a monumental setting the effect is convincing. The somewhat depressing atmosphere of the presentation seems to justify the idea, with some mixed feelings of the jury members though.
Jury report (pdf)

The 6th Concrete Design Competition on Elegance asks students of architecture, design and engineering to explore concrete’s properties and production techniques in terms of elegance, intelligence and effectiveness.

I got inspired while I was analyzing the ancient Agora of Athens, which marks the birth of Athenian democracy twenty-five hundred years ago. I am intrigued by the ancient buildings that surrounded the area and the techniques that were used to construct such massive monuments at a time when no motorized mechanical machines existed. The column construction is one of the most important features of monumental structures like the temple of Hephaistos or the Parthenon. I started to investigate the possible ways in which these Doric columns could have been constructed.
At the exact center of the upper and lower surface of each drum (with the exception of the bottom surface of the lower drum) a square hole, 5 cm along each side, was made. In the hole at the top of a drum a wooden pin was inserted that would fit the corresponding hole at the bottom of the drum above, forming a simple method of centering the drums accurately one upon another.
This method fascinated me in designing a new type of column. Prefabricated concrete segments that vary in scale will be stacked one upon another and form a column. The same ancient method of alignment is used; in each corner a hole is made for a wooden pin that centers the next segment.
These prefabricated segments not only vary in scale, but also reduces the need for strength at the top of the column.
A variant of this column is one where the segments will be removed and light from above can enter the space below.

download panels (pdf)


Pictures © by bureaubakker - Oliver Hidalgo