Friday, 16 July 2010

This Isn't Concrete, Honest

From an ad seen on BD's website:

What an improvement! But who is the advert for? AluMing, leading manufacturer of plastinated aluminium cladding? Prefabricated Brick Panel Marketing Board? No, it's "This is Concrete", a marketing initiative of the Concrete Centre. Further pictures of the transformed Ashburton Court show it to be clad in a number of materials - brick, metal, timber, render, the kind of jumble that's depressingly common in bog-standard 21st century British architecture - anything, in fact, but concrete.

The Concrete Centre should buck up and defend the beautiful material it is in the fortunate position of advocating. It's hard to imagine this kind of self-loathing marketing strategy used for another product. "Drink Milk! If you put enough chocolate syrup in it, it's almost like you're not drinking milk at all!"


Markasaurus said...

I'm always shocked by the abysmally poor quality of the architecture in architectural product advertisements. Who do they think their market is? There is also a heavy reliance on terrible puns, but I'm sure that's a completely separate issue.

The This is Concrete Team said...

Will Wiles, great to see that you have noted the This is Concrete advert on BD’s website. The aim of the advert is not just about the design of the structure (where opinion on aesthetics is always subjective), but is about the versatility of the concrete structure in this fantastic refurb project. We look to place more adverts showcasing concrete’s sustainability attributes as well as its beautiful form in coming months and would relish your opinion – why not follow us on twitter:

come ON... said...

Fantastic refurb? I don't like being rude, and I'm sure you had the best of intentions, but you just can't be serious.

The building was rather pretty as it was, so the message you're getting across is "people hate concrete even when it's beautiful, so why don't you think about it as a backbone for some British style hyper-bollocks cladding... we beg you."

Will said...

Hello to the This Is Concrete team - thanks for taking the time to reply, it's always salutary when someone I write about answers back. I look forward to seeing future adverts in this series, if they do switch from the defensive to the positive. Things like this dismay me because I love concrete, yet it's under daily, passionate attack. If you have a moment, it's worth taking a look at Owen Hatherley's column about the Trinity car park in Gateshead, and the thoroughly depressing comments that follow it:

You can see the kind of low opinion that people have about concrete as a material, mostly horribly misinformed or prejudiced. This kind of passionate attack isn't going to be deterred by apologies. It's crying out for a bit of passion in response, a vivid claim for concrete as a beautiful, sexy material. You can't please everyone, but concrete still has the properties that made it attractive in the 1960s and 1970s, even more so now we've got decades more research into the stuff, you should be having fun with it. May I suggest Chiaki Arai's Ofunato Civic Center as you next poster star?

Vicki Evans said...

Dear Anon. I visited Elizabeth II Court on Wednesday as part of a UKGBC event and was blown away, not only by the sustainability credentials of the project, but the building itself. It was light, airy, created flexible working space, maintained a consistent ambient temperature and achieved everything that the design team set out to. I beg to differ that the building was attractive before, the pictures shown proved it to be an embarrasing blot on a beautiful Winchester landscape.

bah! said...

The thing is you don't need silly cladding materials to make a building "light, airy, flexible, sustainable, successful". They wanted new floor plans and better insulation, that's nice, but that hasn't got anything to do with concrete - and I still think the original facade wasn't ugly, and if it was at least it wasn't ridiculous, which the current one is. But I digress: the point is you can make a flexible working space with concrete, wood or dried cow shit and make it beautiful (and forward-looking, which is something which just doesn't happen anymore, and which this isn't.)

The built landscape must also be beautiful and exciting. Most places are often lacking here, and silly cladding/dilapidating the Brutalist heritage isn't going to help. It wouldn't help even if Brutalism really was some heinous town-chomping disgrace.

This is Concrete team said...

Hi Will / followers,

No worries about getting back to you – it’s great that we are getting feedback re our campaign as that is the true essence of social media – transparency and we want to understand how people view concrete across the board.

Yes, we are releasing future adverts in this campaign so thank you very much for your suggestion and enthusiasm – we also share your love of concrete so shall submit and review it with our creative team.

In reply to the latest blog commenter, we of course would want to focus on the beauty of concrete, as we know as well as you all do that there are some fantastic buildings out there showcasing all different types of finishes etc you can achieve with concrete. Having said that however, we do also want to draw attention to ‘concrete in construction’ and educate people who don’t already know on the different and many practical uses it can serve for an all round beneficiary effect to a sustainable community / environment.

You may find our photostream that we are currently building on Flickr more interesting as that addresses the aesthetic points of concrete. [ This is Concrete Flickr ] Feel free to request to upload your own photos to our sets and spread the word.

Kind regards,
The This is Concrete Team
This is Concrete Twitter