Specialty chemicals company Lanxess presented its third Colored Concrete Works Award in Berlin on May 17, 2017, to a distinguished architect who has achieved something unique in the use of colored concrete. This year’s award goes to Rudy Ricciotti for his “Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée” (MuCEM) project in Marseille in the south of France. The building is constructed of a total of 1,100 m3 of concrete – in the form of prefabricated concrete slabs – and 250 m3 of in-situ concrete. The dark gray color tone was provided by the Lanxess pigments Bayferrox 330 and Bayferrox 318.
Jörg Hellwig, head of the Inorganic Pigments business unit (IPG) at Lanxess, presented the award at the specialty chemical company’s Berlin offices. He praised the project before an audience of guests representing the political, building industry, business communities and media: “Ricciotti’s elegant, contemporary structure blends perfectly into its historical surroundings at the port of Marseille. The ‘Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée’ therefore stands as a symbol of the symbiosis between the traditional and modern. At the same time, it unites esthetics with functionality. Through our Colored Concrete Works initiative, we want to honor unique works of architecture like this, while underlining the importance of colored concrete.”
Second place went to Nils Buschmann and Tom Friedrich for their “Residential buildings at the Old Locomotive Depot” project in Berlin. Third place went to Professor Vasáros Zsolt for “Rudapithecus Látványtár”, the Spectacle Rudapithecus of Monkey Island landscape museum in Rudabánya, Hungary.
Composition of meaning, function and color
The Inorganic Pigments business unit launched the award worldwide in November 2016. Developers and architects were invited to submit completed building projects from around the globe through March 10, 2017. They were eligible to participate if the building was no older than 5 years and incorporated concrete colored with inorganic iron oxide or chrome oxide pigments.
From all the entries, the jury selected the “Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée” (MuCEM) as the winner. The museum is one of the most spectacular in France and among the 50 most visited in the world.
The aspects of function and color equally influenced the jury’s decision. The airy, mesh-like concrete structure enveloping the MuCEM is open to the Provençal sun, creating unique light effects. Situated on the outer tip of the Old Port, in the cultural and historical center of Marseille, the MuCEM with its dark color is an attractive contrast to the beige of the historical Fort Saint Jean that guards the entrance to the port. In this historically significant location, Ricciotti’s building draws its own identity from the textbook squareness of the plot and the horizontal profile.
Minimizing the environmental impact
Ricciotti had all the prefabricated slabs and 384 panels produced and prepared near the construction site so as to minimize environmental impact by keeping distances short and to enhance the identification of local residents with the museum by employing local craftsmen and specialists.
The international jury of experts that selected the “Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée” as this year’s winning project included: Professor Ralf Niebergall, Vice President of the German National Chamber of Architects, Ulrike Kunkel, Editor-in-Chief of “Deutsche Bauzeitung”, Professor Tobias Walliser, founder of the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, Bernd Heuer, President of the agenda4 association, a network of companies and universities in the building and real estate industry, and Lanxess pigment experts Thomas Pfeiffer and Dr. Carsten Rosenhahn.
Airy lightness and solid permanence
Ricciotti deliberately chose black concrete as the building material for this project. Made of ultra-high-strength concrete, the building shows how airy lightness and solid permanence can be united in technological brilliance.
It was essential to Ricciotti that his distinctive building does not compete with the fort, but still stands out from its surroundings. At the same time, he wanted to make sure that its appearance and surface texture remain flawless in the long term, despite weather influences such as the moist, salty ocean air.
In a location like this, a facade coating would never have lasted long enough. The architect therefore decided to integrally color the concrete with Bayferrox 330 and Bayferrox 318 pigments from Lanxess. As a result of their excellent light stability and weather resistance, these color pigments are specially suited to the life span expected of concrete of at least 100 years.
Ricciotti, born on August 22, 1952, in Kouba, a suburb of the Algerian capital of Algiers, earned his degrees in architecture and engineering at the Ecole d’Architecture de Marseille (1980) and the Ecole d’Ingénieurs de Genève (1974). Ricciotti has received numerous awards for his work, including the “Grand Prix national de l’Architecture” in 2006.
He achieved international standing through his work as architect on significant projects in France and abroad, such as the National Choreographic Center in Aix-en-Provence, the “Potsdamer Nikolaisaal” concert auditorium, the Footbridge of Peace in Seoul and the International Center of Art and Culture in Liège.
The Colored Concrete Works Award was first awarded in 2012 to David Chipperfield for his “Ciutat de la Justícia” project in Barcelona in Spain. The 2015 award went to the Japanese architect and interior designer Akihisa Hirata for his “Alp” apartment complex in Akabane-Nishi, Tokyo.
Practical examples of color design for modern buildings
Lanxess is the world’s leading manufacturer of iron oxide color pigments and one of the leading producers of chrome oxide pigments, both of which have proven effective for decades in a wide variety of applications for coloring building materials, paints and coatings as well as plastics and paper.
Through the Colored Concrete Works initiative, Lanxess wants to inspire architects with ideas for working with colored concrete. “Numerous buildings are completed every year that have been colored with our pigments. From the various projects submitted to us as reference properties, or which we come across, we select the ones that we feel are most significant,” explains Thomas Pfeiffer, head of the EMEA region in the Inorganic Pigments business unit.
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