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The metaphysics of concrete

13 March 2012

21 February 2012

Professor Adrian Forty (UCL Bartlett School of Architecture)


Almost three tons of concrete are produced every year for each man, woman and child on the planet. It is now second only to water in terms of human consumption. Yet how has the astonishing take-up of this new medium within little over a century been accommodated into our mental universe? While it has transformed the lives of many people, in Western countries it has been widely vilified, blamed for making everywhere look the same, and for erasing nature. Architects and engineers, although they have primary responsibility for 'interpreting' concrete, are not the only people to employ the medium, and many other occupations - politicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, churchmen - have made use of concrete for purposes of their own. The results are often contentious, and draw attention to the contradictions present in how we think about our physical surroundings.

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