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A question of faith: Concrete effect wallpaper.

A former colleague of mine revelled in the soubriquet ;“The High Priest of Concrete”. Well I am sure that if he had known the cheeky imps working around him in the studio called him this, he would have revelled in it! Anyway, what he does not know about concrete...!

When asked why he was so enthusiastic about this particular material he would always say something like, “You never really know what you have got until the shutters come off!” It is precisely the vagaries of using concrete that scares many architects off the material.

Quality of finish is not the only sting that comes with concrete. As an anecdote it appears that whenever an architect waves a hefty concrete specification document at a contractor, he is usually greeted with an inflated quotation for the work.

Today, in a shop on London’s Oxford street, I came across an answer to both these issues.

In a window display, on the busiest shopping street in London, I was shocked to see an insitu concrete wall. I looked twice, thinking it might be the bare enclosure around the window that is normally decorated for the display. I realised eventually that what I saw was concrete patterned wallpaper! This particular example was a rough cast finish, but there are others. Enhancing the illusion, the wide format of ink jet printed wallpaper puts the joints in about the same location as the formwork would be. The effect is uncanny.

The purists amongst you will protest with some justification. I confess that even writing this post wrings-out of me a certain kind of guilt. After all, I once witnessed a form of exorcism when on an initiation ceremony, known in that particular church as a “site inspection”, The High Priest faced down a contractor applying unifying paint to an imperfect GGBS concrete wall.

Such devotion to a faith is not readily forgotten.

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