Concrete Elegance: Attention to detail


This evening lecture will present two beautiful examples of concrete architecture from practices well versed in the design of concrete; the new Royal College of Pathologists headquarters in London by Bennetts Associates and the Inagawa Cemetery chapel and visitor centre in Japan by David Chipperfield Architects.

While very different in scale, location and appearance, the buildings exhibit a deep understanding of the nature of the material, the possibilities it offers for creativity and structure and great attention to the detail.

The evening's speakers will be:

- Tom Herre, Associate at David Chipperfield Architects and project architect, leading the detail design and construction of the Inagawa Cemetery chapel and visitor centre.

- Matt Ball, Associate Director at David Chipperfield Architects and project design lead and architect for the Inagawa Cemetery chapel and visitor centre.

- Hannah Fothergill, Associate at Bennetts Associates. Current project architect, leading the detail design of the new Royal College of Pathologists headquarters

- Rob Bearyman, Associate Director at Bennetts Associates. Overall project lead and architect for the new Royal College of Pathologists headquarters.  

- Barry Dobbins, Board Director at Waterman Group, the structural engineers for the Royal College of Pathologists project.

Chair: Elaine Toogood, Senior Architect at The Concrete Centre

The evening presentations will conclude with an audience Q&A and a drinks receptions. 

Please note that this event is free to attend but booking is essential. As this is a joint event between The Concrete Centre and The Built Environment Trust, your booking details for this event will be provided to both parties.


Case Studies

Royal College of Pathologists – Bennetts Associates

The new London headquarters for the Royal College of Pathologists is a flexible, environmentally efficient building.  Located in the rapidly changing area of Aldgate on the city’s eastern fringes, this new seven-storey building contains major conference and meeting rooms, offices and overnight accommodation for members. It replaces an existing office block and represents the final phase in the College’s relocation from its former home in the West End.

Internally, the many types of spaces are unified by the exposed cast in situ coffered concrete slabs used throughout. Careful consideration was given to the profile and detailing of the coffers, to marry aesthetic requirements and construction. With integrated lighting, they give a strong visual character to the virtually column-free floors, their thermal mass forming a key part of the building’s passive cooling strategy. The facades express the spaces that sit behind them with brick piers and deep-set windows and concrete string courses at each floor level. Set-backs on first, third and fourth floors create connecting double and triple-height volumes inside the building and allow daylight to penetrate deep into the site.

© Grant Smith

Inagawa Cemetery chapel and visitor centre– David Chipperfield Architects

Inagawa cemetery is located on a steep slope by a scenic mountain range, north of Osaka. It is laid out across terraces, surrounded by forest and bisected by a monumental flight of steps of red concrete along which a rill carries water, down its centre, towards a new chapel and visitor centre.

The floors, walls and roof of the building are all formed as pure building elements and cast in-situ, using the same earth-like red coloured concrete. The internal floors and ground are honed and the walkway walls and soffits sandblasted to create texture – giving the overall structure a monolithic appearance.

The building is formally arranged under a single, sloping roof plane, following the view line from the entrance up to the shrine. The rooms of the visitor centre open onto the central garden while the secluded chapel remains separate – An unadorned and quiet room with minimal heating and artificial lighting offers a non-denominational contemplative space, pure in its form.

© Keiko Sasoka

The Concrete Elegance series is produced by The Concrete Centre and The Built Environment Trust.