During the 1950s, 60s and 70s a simple but beautiful element has been used for various reasons like ventilation, shading or privacy in large and small scale projects around the world – the Concrete Screen Block!
In Europe, the Americas or even in Africa these simple but beautiful bricks with their sheer endless decorations and shapes were an indispensable design element.
Here in Italy they are still seen quite often but not used for new projects anymore. When we started to work on a new concept for the Hotel Savoy on the island of Grado, Italy the owners provided many interesting images showing the emergence of the luxury hotel we know today from a small pension called “Costa Azzurra”.
A simple but elegant element were the “frangisole” used on the facade in the 1970’s which we reintroduced as a room divider indoors in our concept. Following a long research here in Italy we found a very special company called Ceipo. They are the only ones who provide glazed screen blocks in various forms and colors (mainly for the design market in the Middle East).
When looking to different markets like California, the concrete screen block is still an iconic design element in today’s architecture. At this years’ Modernism Week in Palm Springs, California a lecture will be held for the first time about the power of pattern!
Authors Ron and Barbara Marshall will hold a fascinating and informative lecture about one of the least appreciated but most readily recognized of midcentury building materials: concrete screen block. Using many historical and rare images from their new book Concrete Screen Block: The Power of Pattern, the Marshalls explain how screen block exploded onto the architectural scene in the late 1950s, reached its peak at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and slowly diminished in popularity into the 1970s.
Another important market for concrete screen blocks has been (and still is) South America. Today many architects rediscovered the idea of ventilation, privacy and simple but elegant design in various dimensions and standardized or custom made sizes and decors like Studio MK27 in its B+B_casa in São Paolo, Brasil
So whether you are planning a new home or renovating your existing one don’t forget to consider this simple but highly decorative design element just like we did in our recent project to save an iconic piece of design we love!
If you’re in Palm Springs this February don’t miss
Images: modernismweek.com, ceipo.it, architect-and-friends.com, hotelsavoy-grado.it, moderndesign.org, studiomk27.com.br