Claudia Volberg (2019): The signifier concrete – on the potentials of the material semantic using the example of large scale housing of 1960s and 1970s, 1st reviewer: Roger Riewe, 2nd reviewer: Wolfgang Sonne; 319 pages, German
The building stock of the 1960s and 1970s has come into the focus of professional and public debate on the further handling of the heritage since the emergence of a sharply increasing need for redevelopment measures as well as its historically-relevant age.
Residential buildings occupy a special position because they are not only an indicator of changes and values in society due to their social and cultural influence, but in addition, more than public buildings, they must comply with increased ecological and functional requirements. This complicates the already complex task of developing strategies for dealing with the complex and diversified housing stock of this time. On the one hand, these buildings, with their bulky and large-scale concrete aesthetics, continue to serve among the general public as a symbol for building sins of the 1960s and 1970s. On the other hand, they are bearers of a memory space and a special habitat in its otherness. Here, a different reception of exposed concrete buildings with a sculptural material language distinguishes itself from the total stock: They not only attract attention as cultural heritage, but also as exclusive housing, in which they show their individual physicality parallels to the high-quality exposed concrete buildings of contemporary architecture. Both stand for an atmospherically dense and unique architecture.
This is where the present work "Signifier concrete - potentials of material semantics on the example of large scale housing estates of the 1960s and 1970s" commences.
By means of an empirical analysis, the work examines the influence of the architectural formulation of exposed concrete on its material semantics and links this with a comparative analysis of exemplary large residential buildings in connection with their present reception. On the one hand, the complex simplicity of its exposed concrete language can be recognized both in new buildings and in today's concrete research, which, in the area of monolithic construction, in particular explores the sculptural material language. On the other hand, the buildings of the 1960s and 1970s are now facing essential constructive redevelopment measures in their sculptural visual concrete language.
By linking the semantic interpretation of the material language of large-scale housing estates with the plasticity of exposed concrete structures of the contemporary architecture, the work shows the qualities and potential of the sculptural visual concrete language both for the development of strategies to deal with the stock and for the further planning of monolithic exposed concrete buildings, considering new development of exposed concrete.