One of the most unique characteristics of concrete is that it distinguishes itself from other building materials in the manner in which it is applied. Where other materials mainly find their function and shape by means of a process of combining pre-formed elements. Concrete is a monolithic material; its embedded properties can manage a range of structural and architectural functions. All required needs in one simple act. Its process of application is seemingly complex; liquid when ‘shaped’ and solid when ‘functioning’. It is this process of metamorphosis that lends concrete its challenges in terms of fabrication: the need for formwork, dependency on production circumstances and the time needed to gain required strength for example. Equally it provides the means to obtain optimal formal expression, achieve complex elements and, not in the least, produce seamless monolithic structures. Even though the metamorphosis of the material is a scientific, controlled and mostly straightforward process, it grants an almost magical quality to concrete.


Transforming from liquid to solid demands controlled support: the formwork. Recent developments in additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques like cnc-milling and 3d printing provide for fascinating opportunities to push the envelope of formwork technologies. Whilst these methods have been broadly tested on predominantly small-scale projects, a general economic viability of them seems to surface at present. Slightly further away, but upcoming and at least as promising, are developments on controlling form predictability and production with fabric formwork. A technique most suitable for all ‘form freedom’ aspirations, straight and orthogonal shapes are simply impossible. Transformation from prototyping and showcasing into mainstream production demands a larger timespan, like with all new and upcoming technologies. Now seems to be the time to push for this change.


Concrete takes an attractive position in the dialogue between economics, durability and versatility. When considering an array of embedded material properties in relation to functional life-time-cycles, structural building elements tend to over-perform. They easily outlive the functional lifespan of any building erected in the last 100 years. A huge potential for concrete to facilitate, induce and entice an entirely different notion of metamorphosis.


The 7th Concrete Design Competition on METAMORPHOSIS asks students of architecture, design and engineering to explore and exploit the potential of concrete’s properties with respect to any notion of METAMORPHOSIS. These can be related to inherent material properties as well as to concrete’s application in new or existing structures. They may address aesthetic desires, structural systems or fabrication methods and comment on economic realities, sustainability demands or social issues.


This competition does not prescribe a specific location or program; participants can choose a context of their own that supports their fascinations and ambitions and that fits an acute presentation of their ideas. Proposals may range from objects, furniture and architectural details to housing, landscape interventions, complex buildings, infrastructure and structural systems. Competition entries need to address technical and functional aspects as well as formal and programmatic ones – ideas need to be tested through design proposals to demonstrate their potential convincingly. They will be reviewed on the combination of inventiveness in addressing the competition’s theme and architectural implications.


The 7th Concrete Design Competition – METAMORPHOSIS runs in four European countries during the academic year 2015 - 2016. National laureates will be invited to participate in a weeklong international workshop facilitated by the industry’s expertise featuring renowned lecturers and critics, further exploring concrete and metamorphosis.


metamorphosis (mĕtə-môr'fə-sĭs) n., pl. -ses (-sēz)

1. A transformation, as by magic or sorcery.
2. A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function. 
3. Biology. A change in the form and often habits of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage. Metamorphosis includes, in insects, the transformation of a maggot into an adult fly and a caterpillar into a butterfly and, in amphibians, the changing of a tadpole into a frog.
4. Pathology. A usually degenerative change in the structure of a paretical body tissue. [Latin metamorphosis, from Greek, from metamorphoun, to transform : meta-,meta-+morphe, form.]



Metamorphosis came into English via Latin from Greek metamorphoun 'transform, change shape.' It was introdcuced from the Metamorphoses, a large collection of verse stories by Ovid (43 BC - AD 17 or 18), about transformations of gods and mortal into objects, plants, or animals. In the 1980s morph, derived from metamorphosis, came to be used in computere animation for the merging of one image into another, although the idea was already faimiliar to young television viewers in the UK from the character of Morph, a stop-motion plasticine character created by Aardman Animations from 1977, who would mutate in the same way.


American Cement Building
Los Angeles, US, 1964
DMJM Architects


Art Foundation Sachsen Anhalt
Halle, Germany, 2012
AHM Architekten with G.tecz

Atlas Building
Wageningen, The Netherlands, 2006
OeverZaaijer Architecture

Broehl Sport Center
Solothurn, Switzerland, 1982
J.A.Copeland & Heinz Isler

Canwest Global Theatre Columns
CATS - Mark West, 1999

Brazilian Museum of Sculpture
Sao Paolo, Brasil, 1988
Paolo Mendez da Rocha

Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Narvarte , Mexico, 1955
Felix Candela

Fatty Shell
University of Michigan, Kyle Sturgeon, Chris Holzwart, Kelly Rackowski
Stitched flexible formwork

London, UK, 1993
Rachel Whiteread

Laposa Winery
Badacsony, Hungary, 2010
Atelier Peter Kis

Orvieto Hangars
Orvieto, Terni, Italy, 1935
Pier Luigi Nervi

Paul VI Audience Hall
Vatican City, Italy, 1971
Pier Luigi Nervi

Phaeno Science Center
Wolfsburg, Germany, 2005
Zaha Hadid 

Spencer Dock Bridge
Dublin, Ireland, 2009
AL_A (Future Systems)

Studio Fisac
Madrid, Spain, 1971
Miquel Fisac

Wildlife Crossings
Colorado, USA, 2012
Zwarts & Jansma Architects & OKRA Landscape Architects