From private houses and tourist attractions to a bank, a crematorium and a department store, concrete’s adaptability lies in its austere and dynamic qualities. Concrete propellers, trees and chessboards adorn the façades and interiors of these buildings lending them an iconic, playful – if at times stern– appearance.

1. Havoysund Tourist Route by Reiulf Ramstad Architekter
The concrete path’s curving shape is meant to slow the speed of passers-by, to unconsciously make them focus on the beautiful landscape. Overlooking the Arctic Ocean in the north of Norway, the site is just off the Havoysund Tourist Route and offers stunning views.

2. Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point by Christ & Gantenbein
‘The fascinating thing about this project for us is its almost archaic character: an architectural object that has the only purpose to mark a special spot in the landscape and to give people a different, a new view on their surroundings – a noble and challenging task,’ says architect Emanual Christ. ‘It is a powerful place for the individual experience as well as a collective centre of a spirited society.’

3. Bauakademie Salzburg by Soma
The new foyer of Salzburg’s Building Academy appears as an urban jungle with an organically-shaped interior. Pillars are hidden underneath a concrete shell that seems to grow out of the ground like a tree. It reaches its branches towards the ceiling, where the shaping continues and diffuses sunlight that enters through skylights.

4. Bank by Rainer Köberl
The building’s sharp roof is overlaid with a façade of concrete squares alternating with open sections, set just centimetres away from the glass windows. The result is an appearance of alternating black and white, although on closer look, the squares reveal windows onto the offices, the sky, and the nearby alps.

5. Georgia Rest Stops by J. Mayer H. Architects
So far, two rest stops have been completed in Gori and Lochini. Both have a similar aesthetic, comprised of thick concrete blocks that extend in various directions, resembling a sort of distorted geometric puzzle piece.

6. Liverpool Villahermosa by Iñaki Echeverria
Segments of concrete ‘propellers’ create the new façade of a department store in Villahermosa, Mexico. ‘As a whole they create a sense of movement,’ says architect Ivan Parra of Iñaki Echeverria. ‘Light changes through the day and artificial lighting at night provide an interesting mixture of colors, reflections and shadows to create an always-changing image for the façade.’

7. Crematorium in Kédainiai by Architektu Biuras G.Natkevicius ir Partneriai
‘The unaesthetic industrial environment provoked us to create a minimalistic and even ascetic scenario,’ says architect Gintautas Natkevičius. The one-level structure is made largely of concrete, with uneven windows forming a staccato pattern in the exterior walls.

8. UOL Edge Gallery by Ministry of Design
L-shaped concrete units were combine with glazed, vertical strips to give the building an iconic look. Through the semi-transparent façade the interior receives an appropriate mix of natural light and privacy.

9. House of Silence by FORM/ Kouichi Kimura Architects
A concrete volume composed of high, closed walls with few windows hides an open, bright and spacious interior. The 321-sq-m house exists both as a landmark and a fortress of privacy for its residents. Its inner court, for instance, is completely cut out from the outside world.

10. 5.6 House by Avignon-Clouet
Benjamin Avignon of Paris-based studio Avignon-Clouet Architectes incorporated several elements of a typical beach holiday into the design of this private house. In order to increase the porosity and roughness of the concrete, the material went through a process of abrasive blasting, enhancing the theme of an ‘unmolded sandcastle.'