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Designer Facades

New technology allows architects to print designs on concrete

The waterfront site is across Doha Bay from the IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art.
The waterfront site is across Doha Bay from the IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art.

Technology which allows architects to stamp their own designs on building façades is now on offer in the Middle East.

Graphic Concrete, a Finnish company, is bringing a new approach to designing prefabricated concrete surfaces with the technology available to Qatar projects via the firm’s Dubai-based partner Versatile, a business development company.

The company patented technology was invented by architect Samuli Naamanka. It is an industrial product for large scale surfaces and a tool that allows architects to be more visually creative and flexible.

“Graphic concrete allows designers and architects to design attractive and durable patterns and images onto prefabricated concrete surfaces such as façades, walls and pavement slabs,” explained Harri Lanning, CEO of Graphic Concrete Ltd.

The desired image is printed on the membrane with a surface retarder, after which the membrane is sent to the local concrete prefabrication company.

Concrete is cast on the membrane and when the retarder is washed away the image is revealed. The membrane can accommodate any element size. The image results from the contrast between the fair face and the exposed aggregate surface. Additionally, changing the aggregate and/or cement colour offers a vast range of results, to suit any requirement.

“Being a standardised part of the prefabrication industry, graphic concrete is easy to use. The solution is also cost effective, as the surface is ready as is and requires no further cladding or treatment,” Lanning said.

Architects can create their own designs – and the company also has a number in its collection which can be selected “off the peg”, including contemporary design which feature Islamic influenced patterns.

Launched recently at a reception in Abu Dhabi and hosted by the ambassador of Finland Ilkka-Pekka Similä, the technology has been used in 600 projects across the world – and has now been introduced to the GCC and surrounding countries.

Similä said: “This particular products is an excellent example of Finnish technological expertise.”

Versatile will be representing the product in the GCC countries, Jordan and Lebanon.

“As designers and architects are constantly looking for new creative solutions to create wow effects, we believe that we have a lot to offer to this market,” Lanning added.

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Construction Week - Issue 753
Nov 09, 2019