Architectural precast is a fairly modern term referring to precast concrete that adds aesthetic and architectural/functional value to a structure. Precast concrete is produced by pouring concrete into a reusable form, such as a mould or a cast. It is then cured in a controlled environment. The concrete is later transported to the construction site and set up.
Compare this to standard concrete, which is poured into various forms and cured on site. Besides allowing form, colour and texture alteration, architectural precast concrete is more cost effective, especially when constructing high-rise office buildings. It’s also safe and requires less time to create and install, unlike standard concrete. Here are some spellbinding architectural precast examples worth looking into.
1. The Champagne Quarry Park
The park, which consists of five individual buildings laid under interconnected underground parking, is surrounded by natural stone patterns that feature balconies and beautiful arch details over the top window. A closer look at the property’s interior reveals the presence of precast concrete shear walls and a concrete hollow core floor slab.
Precast concrete shear walls, whose effectiveness is largely pegged on the panel-to-panel connections, are used where lateral load resistant systems are required. Durability, versatility and resistance to the elements and fire outbreaks are some of the qualities that make architectural precast ideal for this type of construction.
2. Humber River Hospital
The business environment in which you operate is key in determining the overall building design. For instance, the Humber River Hospital incorporated a façade into their building design to mirror the rock out-cropping found along the banks of the river. A facade is an industrially-produced solid wall marked by numerous surfaces of top-notch designs. To enhance the visibility of the window openings, precast concrete panels were fitted with two finishes. These panels create a curtain wall illusion, which allows the panel to echo the movement of the river against the rocks.
3. Surrey City Hall and Plaza
These include shear walls, load-bearing wall units, formwork for cast-in-place concrete and curtain walls. Load-bearing precast walls are best suited for the transfer of loads from other elements. They cannot be altered without affecting the stability of the entire building. Next on the list is precast wall panels, which are the most common type of precast product for building envelopes. These precast wall panels enclose a space while still offering resistance to wind and other seismic forces caused by their own weight. Besides, they can be removed individually, if need be, without interfering with the entire structure. Spandrels, column covers, wall panels, window wall units and mullions are some of the precast curtain wall panels you are likely to encounter. To get both functional and aesthetic value, this is a perfect material as it integrates both components.
Precast concrete can reduce noise pollution by a whopping 50%. This, in part, explains why precast concrete walls are a favourite in urban areas. You can enhance these designs to something that fits your taste in terms of colour, texture or design.
4. Sunset Blvd
This residential home located in Thornbury features all precast structural concrete products. The contractor used a self-supporting precast with minimal supports. Various form liners were used to finish the panels to achieve the current look.
Since the home is set on a golf course, there are regulations and rules for new construction that had to be followed. The regulations strictly stipulate the type of products contractors must use on the property’s exterior facades.
The contractor used a custom stone form liner that was almost identical to the approved stone materials. Next was the staining of the panels at the precaster’s facility, after which they were transported to the site.
A 90-tonne mobile crane was used to install the panels. Tilt shores were also used to provide temporal support to the precast wall panels. First to be installed and secured were floor slabs. This way, it was possible to tie the shores to them and keep them in place until the entire building was completed.
On average, seven wall panels a day were erected. It took just two weeks to erect the 72 panels to complete installing the precast. The result is an exquisite fully-precast concrete home that will be around for years.
5. Simons Retail Stores
The next time you are in Galeries d’Anjou, Montréal, Québec, check out the impressive architectural marvel that is Simons Retail Stores. The structure features a breath-taking glittery façade that is captivating in an immersive way. This architectural beauty is the hub of Québec’s apparel market from where it spreads to the entire country. What sets this store apart from the rest is its beautiful and sophisticated design that makes chic merchandising possible.
To construct Simon Stores, the contractor used white precast concrete on surfaces to create an immersive sleek look with distinct features on every store. The mall has an architectural precast concrete façade that features beautiful recesses interspersed with fibre-optic lights.
To pull off this architectural masterpiece, the contractor used precast concrete panels, each with up to 2,350 recesses. The fibre-optic lights are displayed on the recesses and twinkle throughout the day and night. The versatility of concrete made it possible for the contractor to achieve integration of the dotted texture and fibre-optic lighting using variable diameters and depths.
6. Innovative Centre for Engineering, University of Alberta
Also referred to as the U of A ICE building, this architectural beast features a creative blend of architectural precast concrete, metal and glass. What makes it unique is its “fly-by” cladding system on the corners. Combine this with minimal supporting structure and transparent glass and you have an architectural structure worth gawking at.
The key ingredient in the construction of this marvel was the high-quality precast concrete without which you won’t be reading about this structure. The concrete’s strength means it’s possible to have thin walls without compromising their ability to withstand heavy winds, seismic loads, and gravity.
To pull off this never-before-seen masterpiece, the contractors took the architect’s advice and used just the right level of shadowing on the surface without jeopardizing its ability to shed grime and dust. This resulted in dazzling horizontal features that tone down the building’s verticality and introduced other features that made the building a classic architectural study in majestic structures.
The beauty of architectural precast is defined by the quality, safety, sustainability and efficiency of a building’s structure. It’s also defined by its aesthetic appeal, more so using beautiful facades or ancient cornice designs.