‘concrete is as concrete doesn’t’ – Massumi

Recent developments such as high strength concrete and self-compacting mixtures have improved its strength and processability. These new properties are already bringing a different level of inspiration to architecture students and practitioners alike by generating new possibilities in themselves, which are much than technical solutions to design ambitions whose motivations come from other sources. Already explorations of concrete’s inherent qualities such as mass, weight, density, strength and durability are leading to innovative applications. But such possibilities could open up an imaginative field that might satisfy the deep-rooted desire for transparent and intelligent concrete. If so, concrete would finally be able to add transparency to its obvious plasticity, combining the two great characteristics of modern architecture in one material.

Various developments are engineering a shift in our notions of transparency and lightness in architecture. Ever more rigorous physical (or environmental) demands will continue to reduce the surface area of glass in buildings, but advanced technologies mean this will not necessarily result in less transparency. Computing power allows us to identify structural ‘cold spots’ which can be ‘dematerialised’, and there are seemingly unlimited techniques for generating form. This opens the way to move from a ‘material transparency’ towards a ‘spatial transparency’ in which formal issues as depth, void and matter meet with material properties like texture, weight and solidity, offering experiences and interpretations of transparency that are generated by the opacity of the material. Paradoxically, exploiting concrete’s property of opacity offers the potential to experience and increase transparency, but it is a transparency in a ‘relative’ rather than an ‘absolute’ sense.

Concrete’s plastic characteristics – from fluid to solid, allowing for the production of complex forms, - combined with its mass and resilience allows for ‘free’ transformations while efficiently resolving structural and physical demands. We can envisage a truly three- dimensional architectural operation (even within the material itself) instead of a one- dimensional ‘see-through’ performance. So plastic-OPACITY infers a spatial transparency, opening up to intricate engagements of shadows and light, tactility, relief and introducing techniques like weaving, punching and folding. It leaves the realm of the purely visual, and opens the door to programmatic, environmental and physical aspects as well as investigations of specific experiences of spaces, context as well as other architectural issues.

The discipline of design proffers a reciprocal relationship that can move from idea to materiality as well as in the opposite direction moving materiality to idea. The dual or combined notions on plastic-OPACITY tap directly into some of the basic properties of concrete. Similarly it offers contextual, theoretical and pragmatic design considerations that are seemingly contradictory. This perhaps unnerving or slightly confusing quality needs to be imaginatively resolved by all entrants. Insights and interpretations that may very well differ completely from presented notions on plastic-OPACITY are welcomed and expected.

This competition seeks to investigate through research and design, any notion of plastic-OPACITY in or with concrete. It asks participants to embrace and explore opportunities implied by the dual and combined qualities of plasticity and opacity without particularly pinning down the literal or exact meaning of each property but allowing the pluralistic and phenomenal implications of both. ‘Traditional’ design criteria as programme, location, context, scale and so on, may be added freely by participants in order to structure their research and enhance the potential of their application. These can be derived from recent school projects such that the competition aims blend with current curricula as basis. Results of these explorations have to be presented through proposals that are ‘design-led’ – be it architectural, structural or otherwise – in order to reveal their relevance and merits by application. The proposals may range from objects, furniture, buildings and architectural details to housing, landscape interventions and other large-scale projects.

Hanif Kara, curator



Italy (second prize)

Annalisa Torta - Faculty of Architecture Politecnico, Turin

AS106 - Fractal Underground
Sweden (first prize)

Sara Eriksson - Chalmers-A, Göteborg

AS189 - Design for a Concrete Skyscraper
United Kingdom (honourable mention)

Anna Schepper - Architectural Association, London

Belgium (honourable mention)

David Berkvens - St.-Lucas, Brussels

BE358 - Interval (Concrete Planes)
Germany (joint winner)

Emre Cetinel - Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbu

Belgium (first prize)

Arnaud Kinnaer, Bruno de Veth & Valentin Pierron - La Cambre, Brussels

CC005 - SpaceTime Paving Slab
United Kingdom (joint second prize)

Alaistair Steele, Francesca Maffei & Nick Turvey - Royal College of Arts, London

CC543 - A Growing Calm
Ireland (third prize)

Gerard O'Mahony, Ian Shek & Timothy Lee - Queens University, Belfast

Ireland (second prize)

Hala O'Reilly & Paul Jeffries - University College, Dublin

CK357 - CON"CREATE" Emotions
Turkey (honourable mention)

Cem Tütüncüoglu & Keremcan Kirilmaz - Izmir Institute of Technology, Izmir

CL583 - A tribune of concrete as a tribute to concrete; sheltering, illuminating, aesthetic
Turkey (joint second prize)

Emre Demerci, Mehmet Ayaz, Osman Sahin - Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul

Italy (first prize)

Aldo Sollazzo, Paolo Diglio & Paolo Spadafina - Faculty of Architecture Roma Tre, Rome

EE333 - Minimal Skin
Netherlands (honourable mention)

Eelco Grootjes - Academy of Architecture, Rotterdam

GE584 - Plastic-Opaque Wall
Turkey (joint third prize)

Hakan Demirel, Seda Kurt & Onur Tanik - Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul

GG871 - Gazebo Grid
Sweden (third prize)

Albin Ahlquist & Martin Palmlund - SLU/Landscape architecture, Alnarp

United Kingdom (honourable mention)

William Hailiang Chen - Architectural Association, London

Ireland (first prize)

Louise Souter - University College, Dublin

MG111 - Concrete Potentials
Germany (joint winner)

Gergana Stavrera & Matthieu Götz - Universität Kassel

MR979 - Concrete Light
Netherlands (honourable mention)

Marieke Rongen - Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam

MY717 - Cultural Fruit
Belgium (honourable mention)

Lotte Mattelaer - St.-Lucas, Brussels

NI385 - Layers of Different Scale
Sweden (second prize)

Lars Höglund - Chalmers-A, Göteborg

NS014 -"Concrete as a source."
Turkey (joint second prize)

Sami Metin Uludogan - Istanbul Bigli University, Istanbu

NZ573 - In search of a new definition
Turkey (joint third prize)

Burçin Yildirim & Pinar Gökbayrak - Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul

OZ070 - McDelta T Concrete Project
Turkey (honourable mention)

Oya Okumus & Zeynep Ademoglu - Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul

PC100 - E.Concrete
Germany (honourable mention)

Carlotta Werner & Philipp Böhm - Bauhaus University, Weimar

PO009 - Light Space Water
Italy (third prize)

Daniele Ghiglione & Stefano Serventi - Faculty of Architecture Politecnico, Milan

RJ973 - Sharing in the World
Turkey (honourable mention)

Resat Yilmaz - Izmir Institute of Technology, Izm

SB013 - Climbing Tower

Turkey (honourable mention)

Bahar Bayrak, Cihad Oguz & Seyma Suyabatmaz - Osmangazi University, Eskisehir

SS823 - Platinum Proportional Experimental Concrete Frame
Turkey (first prize)

Selahattin Tüysüz - Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul

United Kingdom (joint second prize)

Vincent Young - University College London, London

WF004 - Fabric Formed Column
United Kingdom (first prize)

David Ralph, Kyeong Keun Han, William Flint & Yongcchun Kim - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh

WM001 - Let There Be Light
Germany (joint winner)

Mark Philipp Gabriel & Wei Sun - TU Dresden




Pier Vittorio Aureli, Alain Berteau, Bart Biermans,
Vincent Brunetta, Dirk Jaspaert



Klaus Bollinger, Christian Schittich, Till Schneider,
Abalos & Herreros, Almut Ernst



Merrit Bucholz, Sean Harrington, Trevor Leaker



Francesco Cellini, Carmen Andriani, Angelo Balducci, Babriele Del Mese, Marino Folin, Camillo Nuti, Angelo Torricelli



Jan Peter Wingender, Stephen Bates, Baukje Trenning, Kamiel Klaasse, Hans Ibelings, Frans van Herwijnen



Anna von Schewen, Arne Hellstram, Lennart Elfgren,
Mats Oberg, Pennti Kareoja



Sevki Pekin, Yuksel Demir, Kerem Erginoglu,
Murat Tabanlioglu, Han Tumertekin


United Kingdom

Graham Morrison, Mark Swenarton, Sean Griffiths,
Jerry van Eyck 


Concrete Design Book on plastic-OPACITY
Editor: Siebe Bakker, bureaubakker

Published by: Bundesverband der Deutschen Zementindustrie e.V., 2007
isbn: 978-3-7640-0492-7


Albin Ahlquist, David Berkvens, Emre Demirci,
Hakan Demirel, Paolo Diglio, Sara Eriksson, William Flint,
Mark Philipp Gabriel, Daniele Ghiglione, Pinar Gökbayrak, Matthieu Götz, Eelco Grootjes, Kyeong Keun Han,
Paul Jeffries, Arnaud Kinnaer, Lars Höglund, Yongcchun Kim,
Seda Kurt, Timothy Lee, Francesca Maffei, Gerard O’Mahony,
Lotte Mattelaer, Martin Palmlund, Valentin Pierron,
David Ralph, Hala O’Reilly, Marieke Rongen,
Stefano Serventi, Ian Shek, Aldo Sollazzo, Louise Souter,
Paolo Spadafina, Gergana Stavrera, Alaistair Steele, Wei Sun,
Onur Tanik, Annalisa Torta, Nick Turvey, Sami Matin Uludogan,
Bruno de Veth, Burçin Yildrim, Vincent Young

Hanif Kara


Siebe Bakker, Henk Ovink, Adiam Sertzu, Christian Tygoer


Critics, experts and lecturers
Guy Châtel, Stephan Engelsmann, Werner Möller, Ciro Najle, Elisabeth Plessen, Akihisa Hirata, Bjarke Ingels


Annekatrin Arndt, Sebastian Czerny, Lazlo Czutoras,
Robert Demel, Jörg Dietrich, Michael Drewniok,
Norbert Esch, Michael Fink, Beppe Gallo, Guido Lau,
Uhle Lehman, Mario Leitzmann, Melissa Liando, Peter Lieblang,
Heinz-Peter Lüdike, Roland Mellwitz, Yuki Oh, Torsten Pauer, Ilona Riske, Ric Sai, Wolfgang Schäfer, Botho von Senger und Etterlin, Eliana Stazi, Gisela Trögele,
Nicole van der Velden


ATIC – Maria Dulce Louçao
BDZ – Jörg Fehlhaber
Betongforum – Anita Stenler
Cement&BetonCentrum – Hans Köhne
The Concrete Centre – Allan Haines
FEBELCEM – Jef Apers
Irish Cement – Brendan Lynch
TCMA – Çaglan Becan


Laszlo Czutoras, Melissa Liando


Hanif Kara
Founders and directors of Adams Kara Taylor

The role of the curator is the head of competition and master class and co-editor of the book on plastic-OPACITY. Hanif Kara is one of the founders and directors of Adams Kara Taylor, a progressive, design led structural and civil engineering consultancy based in London. Their office has quickly become one of the leading practices in the world, collaborating with many of the best architects, developers and contractors. In recent projects they worked with Foreign Office Architects, Foster and Partners, Sir Richard MacCormac, William Alsop, Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel, among others, with projects ranging form bridges and art to housing and museums. ‘The contribution of structural engineers to the process of 'design' can easily be underestimated as a side attraction - hard to measure, hard to master and easy to neglect. The great engineers of the past always combined efficiency with innovation and elegance; but it was, and remains, the ability to create a good working relationship with the design team that set them apart. We are a practice in this mould who particularly relish the dialogue between architect, other designers and client as the hallmark to quality.’ When Hanif and Albert Williamson-Taylor founded Adams Kara Taylor in 1995, both brought a proven record in delivering innovative structural design at all stages of the construction process, from competition winning concepts to realisation of complex buildings. This broad experience showed Hanif how a consulting firm might be based around an ethos of innovative and proactive structural design, because he understood how and where engineering expertise might best serve the aspirations of clients and fit with the intentions of other team members. Accordingly Hanif shares overall responsibility for design with Albert, and develops relationships with clients. This structure means the firm’s experimental edge, including a growing expertise in parametric design and advanced geometry, remains focused on practical ends. At AKT Hanif has led design teams on ground-breaking buildings like the Peckham Library, designed by Will Alsop, Zaha Hadid’s Wolfsburg Science Centre and the Tesco’s store in Ludlow, where MacCormac Jamieson and Prichard designed a striking contemporary building in a historic setting. The success of these projects has brought wide recognition; he is an examiner for the Institute of Structural Engineers, co-tutor of a unit at the Architectural Association and a visiting tutor at several other schools of architecture (Harvard, MIT, Cornell). He is currently a member of the Design Review Panel for the Commission for Architecture and the built environment. In 2003 he was invited to join the master jury for the Aga Khan’s awards for architecture. And in 2005 he became an Honorary Fellow at the RIBA. Hanif’s career prior to founding AKT brought wide experience together with opportunities which led him to realise how his interests and skills might best contribute to a new firm. While working for steel fabricators Joseph Parks and Sons, he saw how engineering might be applied to component production; from there, after graduating from Salford University with an honours degree in civil engineering in 1981, he went to consulting engineers Allot and Lomax, where he worked on offshore oil platforms, power stations and fairground structures before leading the structural team on the Battersea Power Station leisure complex. Realising that his interests lay in creative structural design, in 1989 Hanif joined Anthony Hunt Associates. At Hunt’s his projects included BA’s combined operations centre at Heathrow, designed by Grimshaw’s, and the acclaimed Lloyds Register of Shipping, where Hanif satisfied the demands of the architects, the Richard Rogers Partnership, for a structure which used concrete to provide thermal mass, but which matched the aesthetic elegance of steel. Later he began to take on responsibility for developing new relationships with clients and other team members, notably at Brindleyplace in Birmingham.


Akihisa Hirata

Bjarke Ingels


Guy Chatel

Stephan Engelsmann

Werner Moller

Ciro Najle

Elisabeth Plessen


Henk Ovink

Adiam Sertzu

Christian Tygoer

Siebe Bakker, NL
architect / producer
Principal bureaubakker / international coordinator Concrete Design Competitions

Siebe(1964) has been a driving force behind the Concrete Design Competition since its start. He has operated as international coordinator and content provider for the competition series and its master classes.

 bureaubakker produces cross-disciplinary knowledge exchanges between industries, educational institutes and design practices. We are convinced that exchange and creation of knowledge forms the key factor in understanding and developing one's own expertises. These exchanges are focused on pragmatic creative processes and are based on innovative design approaches, strategic scenario techniques, cross-cultural collaborations and decision-making methods. Firmly based on an architectural and didactical background we facilitate research and development programs ranging from brainstorm sessions to international competitions. Depending on the ambitions and expertise of our clients we offer project support starting from generating concepts and formats to full project management and coordination, marketing strategies, supervision and publications.