Sunday, 18 February 2018

Bush-hammering concrete

Not long ago I bought a book on brutalism that contains this fascinating Max Dupain photograph showing two builders labourers working on the Canberra Defence Offices, in Campbell Park, in 1971. The two men are using bush hammers to create an exposed concrete effect, giving the building a ribbed look like corduroy. The heavy hammers are shaped like meat tenderisers, with a grid of polygonal metal teeth shaped like pyramids. In a book I reviewed last month titled 'Raw Concrete' by Barnabas Calder, there is also mention of a pneumatic version of the bush hammer that is sometimes used to create the same effect. The workmen use the hammers to smash off the outer skin of concrete on the ribs, exposing the aggregate for that true "beton brut" look. The book was published in Germany to accompany an exhibition, 'SOS Brutalism - Save the Concrete Monsters!' being held from 8 November 2017 to 2 April 2018 at the Deutsche Arkitekturmuseum in Frankfurt-am-Main.

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