For years, I made short-shrift of concrete block, associating it with the clunky cinderblock-and-pine shelves beloved by frugal college students, or bleak, prison-like garages and homemade tool sheds. I’d pass cheap, strong concrete blocks at construction sites and lumber yards, and wonder what I could do with them. Although I’m crazy about concrete, I seemed to have no imagination for concrete block.
Lately, new visions of concrete block have come my way, and opened my eyes to possibilities.
Two are from the inspiring treasure of a book I bought recently: Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow The Philosophy of an Architect I was knocked out by a simple outdoor table Breuer designed in the fifties: a rectangular slab of stone propped on a column of mortared concrete blocks.
From the same book: a concrete block wall painted cobalt blue, a lesson in concrete block’s affinity for modern design and the intriguing possibilities for painting them.
Then, a home featured in The New York Times featured a concrete block fireplace, lightened by sleek lines and a glass surround that brings in light and a view. (It turns out, this is a design solution created by Breuer in the fifties.)
Did I really know what I was talking about when I naively panned concrete blocks? I wondered, and went online for info. I discovered that there are concrete blocks and there are concrete blocks. The rougher, homelier ones like cinder blocks have coal cinders mixed into the concrete; others are made with finer mixes and more pleasing shades and textures of concrete, in a variety of shapes and sizes. Those got my imagination working. I envision using a cool concrete block as a stand for a stack of art books, or an outdoor cooking hearth with moderne lines, or a version of Breuer’s gorgeous table.
thanks U.S. Concrete