Beautiful precast offers endless variation

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Beautiful precast offers endless variation

Precast is a flexible building technology and it is a very useful tool for architects. “Architects aim to create long-lasting and high-standard buildings for people,” says architect Pentti Kareoja from ARK-house Architects Oy.

The biggest challenges for precast building have been outdated Western perceptions concerning precast. "Some fifty years ago, there was a massive housing shortage caused by fundamental socio-economic changes that affected post-war societies, especially in Western Europe and the Nordic countries. The massive need for affordable housing was met with new cost-efficient and fast building technology, precast building,” explains Kareoja. Today, after fifty years of accumulated expertise and innovations, contemporary precast building technology offers a wide selection of high-standard options. With the precast building technology of 2011, it is possible to produce versatile and high quality building projects. Precast has a major advantage compared to any other building technology: mass-tailoring. This enables cost-efficient, and yet, unique solutions for large-scale projects. “Old-fashioned perceptions concerning precast technology can be tackled by showing good examples of architecturally appraised and enduring buildings,” says Kareoja.

Positive aesthetics of precast

Seams have been considered as a challenge in precast façade aesthetics. According to Kareoja, architects could perceive seams as a positive challenge. "Instead of hiding them, seams can be used as material for aesthetic composition; they can be over-emphasized or colored," explains Kareoja. Traditionally, precast façades have been one-story high, but even these differences in height can be altered by architectural solutions. "Striping could be even richer than what we have been accustomed to with current solutions. For instance, the Dutch De Stijl style emphasizes the structural seams and borders which are characteristic for precast building in a positive manner," continues Kareoja. Various surface treatments give many options for mass-tailoring. "Graphic patination (Graphic Concrete), various degrees of sandblasting, use of aggregates and pigments offer an endless number of cost-efficient variations for façades. Even more variation can be achieved by contrasting different surface treatments with each other. Surfaces can be surprising, beautiful, and even have a hand-made look, all ready from the precast factory,” concludes Kareoja. Urban planning authorities seem to have fallen a little bit behind the new visions and possibilities of precast building. Pentti Kareoja says that the authorities should open their minds to more options and give some space to designers and architects to demonstrate the new possibilities of how to make beautiful precast buildings. Kareoja has witnessed some successful projects in, for instance, Spain and France. "Lately, there have been inquiries from India. This proves that precast technology has really entered the Indian market. Beautiful precast is rapidly taking the place it deserves," concludes Kareoja.

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