Scripted Surface: "BLITZCRETE" - " Breaking the Silence"






















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Blitzcrete was conceived in 1970 and first used in a project in 1982. It stems from the demolition of the temporary roof, (technically, the 'entablature'), over a cream painted neo-classical portico in Gloucester Terrace, Regents Park. My firm at the time, Louis de Soissons, were restoring a row of gigantic terrace houses, two of which, with an Ionic 'giant order' had been damaged during the War and merely reinstated as shells, with no internal floors. The workers turned up a concrete, that they called 'Dutch' presumably because it had been made with pieces of broken bricks, of all colours. Its random polychromy, in succulent hues, was good enough to be eaten. It was the most beautiful 'concrete' I had ever seen.


They explained that it was the sort of material that had been used during the 'Blitz' to repair houses. Indeed, later on, when I asked the Cement and Concrete Association, in 1980, for advice on concretes made with brick aggregates, I expected a treatise on how the Romans bound brick, and tile, fragments in a naturally-occurring , 'pozzolanic' cement of volcanic origin. The C&CA could only send me a small pamphlet, printed in 1941, (of which they seemingly retained several thousands), on how to make an air raid shelter, presumably with the ruins of some house.


Probably this was because bricks do not make a good aggregate for structural concrete. Bricks are porous to water vapour and might allow it to enter the concrete and rust the steel reinforcement. This is why, when we cast Blitzcrete, we contain its reinforcement in a back-up layer mixed with a 'waterproof' crushed stone aggregate. The crushed-brick concrete is a bonded-on decorative layer.


JOA's first use of through-coloured concrete was on the McKay Trading Estate (1976-78), in Poyle, near Colnbrook. For the 'conceptual' utility of this material my reader is referred to the essay called "Act of Foundation, and the paragraphs titled:"Matter stained with light". Blitzcrete, in 1982, was the first of our surface-patterned concretes.


The purpose of Blitzcrete is solely discharged within the Vitruvian department of Venustas, or beauty, that, in JOA, we call the Iconic Engineering of the Conceptual Environment. The material has been used to embody more than one idea. One can understand how this could be so, when it is known that it can be cast into many shapes, given any 'background' colour and filled with any mixture of coloured fragments.


For example, it has been used to embody the idea of the violent, inchoate energy attendant upon the 'first event', the 'primum mobile' of the 'Act of Creation', or Foundation, as we tend to call it in its Architectural dimension. This was the role of 'Blitzcrete' in the Peristyle of "Talking Columns" that mark out the 'contingent' footprint of the new House at Wadhurst upon the 'tabula rasa' of its overscaled 'champs des stelae'. For a fuller exposition of this idea go to the "Act of Foundation" - paragraph "Raising the Stakes".


Blitzcrete is used to embody the 'force' that empowers the members of a Trabeated Architecture - enabling them to secure the statically unstable 'cubing' of space that is typical of the Architectural Medium in its role in forming the homes of 'constitutionally' fabricated Institutioins (rather than naturally-constituted ones around the Race, Monarch, Tribe, and Family.


Nor is any of this derived from the archaic ontology of the 18C Enlightenment, which mistakenly supposed the cubic lattice of trabeation to be derived from structural stabilisation. Buckminster Fuller, who hated a cubed, urbane Architecture (as do all of his ideological, so-called High-Tech Nomad, descendants), did Civil Architecture the valuable service of disproving the hoary myth that 'trabeation' was ever derived from either constructive or structural economy.


So, failing a material justification for the cubing of architecture, the 20C meekly abandoned it calling the 'Trabeated Orders' archaic.


JOA, a half-century after this event, created the 'Serving Order' version of our new Architectural Order, the 'Ordine Robotico'. This refounded the 'empowering force' upon a totalised and modernised version of 'material support' which included all of the physical Engineerings, from digital to anti-gravity, used today. Yet it was never our ambition to reduce the iconic dimension of Architecture to the ludicrous spectacle of a great building draped in toilet pods and drainage pipes. The gastric processes of the body are of intense interest to certain cultures, notably those with a high cuisine. But, even so, Architecture is more than plumbing, just as eating is more than an excuse to make turds. It was necessary to progress the aspect of the Order, and Architecture in general, that performed the function of communicating ideas that were not otherwise presented by the merely technical, that is to say physical, devices appropriate to building.


A lay reader will have no idea how pregnant with architectural heresy, was our last sentence. For to threaten to communicate something that 'goes beyond the naked revelation of the 'material facts' of construction' is to open a Pandora's jar that has been securely sealed for going-on 100 years. Well, JOA have not merely peeped inside, and got a whiff of the rich aroma, We have been visiting Pandora's temple of taboos from the days of my second failed 5th-year Thesis, back in 1961. I know the inside of that jar very well indeed.


I know that Architecture will never, ever, obtain the proper, full and civic 'licence to practice' (which the Public long to award it) until it learns how to represent, and not just represent, but embody in real and natural space, ideas of all kinds, from the banal to the arcane. But my journeys to the forbidden zone have taught me that the enlargement of Architecture into a Medium that can carry a 'lexical' load is well within its contemporary capability. Indeed our work has already proved this case, on many occasions. Which is why Architectural Juries come to it with such confused and passionate emotions, half hating and half loving it, while remaining incapable of using its inventions.


'Blitzcrete' has become one of JOA's 'trademarks'. But it is not a frequently-used surfacing material.


Its most extensive employment was its first, at Wadhurst Park. Here it appeared in the vertical register of the 'Talking Column' typical of Air, or, in fact, Speech. The naked display of such a manifestly 'violent' icon can be held to be acceptable in a rustic Retreat, as this is. If any of our buildings is situated in the savage Arcardia of the Golden Age, it is this "New House" - situated on a hill, overlooking a wide valley unmarked by any human habitation, with a huge lake in its hollow, and populated by herds of deer that run into thousands. This is one of the loci where where myth and reality can, one feels, become incarnate. Here the event of the primum mobile can be made patent, and its inception of the diverse Architectural 'narratives of inhabitation', can revealed with something of their awesome force.


Blitzcrete is also used, typically, to form the final end of our 'canonic log' entablatures - those blue cylinders inset with white spirals - which we describe in "Doodlecrete". Blitzcrete, here, seemingly oozing out of the blue spiral tubes, or revealed as some solid inner core when they are peeled back, embodies the inner core of 'energetic force' that, conceptually, empowers the cubing lattice of the Entablature. The idea of this absolute 'force' descended directly from the 'primum mobile' via the 'columna lucis', 'Indra's spear' and so on, It is given a palette of coloured brick fragments, in red, yellow, blue, black and brown, which dance in a sparkling white matrix. They recall the fiery embers carried up in the column of air from the sacrificial fire which was Man's early imitation of the 'Founding Act' as well as his telegraph upwards to 'the Founders'. The Trabica, or 'raft' of (light) beams, is discussed at more length in "Act of Foundation" - paragraph: "Beams of Light and Fire".


Blitzcrete, as the JOA 'Blitzcrete Book' shows, can be cast in a matrix of any colour of cement in which is set any combination of coloured brick, as well as stone fragments. It should be remembered, here, while 'engineering colours', that most stone bleaches in the sun, whereas brick does not. JOA have also used 'green blitzcrete'.


This material has twice embodied the idea of the moment when the Earth materialised as dry, solid, fragments situated in a green, moist, swamp. The first time was on the Wall of the Ark Block of the Judge Institute, where the green band is the nest of reeds that carries the cone of ashes in the Vedic Cosmogenesis. The second use is in the second of the five vertical registers of the columns for the Millenium Pavilion at Wadhurst Park.



"Claude's Key", and Duncanology Three: "Cram's Plan".






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