the project

“A Cure for Concrete” steers creation of visual imagery on concrete surfaces by experimenting with co-additives to an existing, but underused, concrete curing compound. Both the additives and curing compound can be derived from waste products, such as Vivianite, a by-product of wastewater treatment. The pictorial ornamentation will not only make buildings and the urban landscape more beautiful, contributing ultimately to our well-being, but also preserve the concrete landscape itself.

Inspired by recreating the effects of worn-down concrete in Sujata’s photographs (series Concrete Abstraction) Sujata (artist, with a background in photography and physics) and prof. dr. Stephen Picken, professor of Polymer Materials at Delft University of Technology, steered the process by design, during the Crossing Parallels residency 2018/9. Through (transdisciplinary) research Sujata, Stephen, and, as a grand finale, a group of hackathon participants explored the pictorial potential of concrete.

In particular nano coatings such as Cellulose NanoCrystal (CNC), Vivianite, and Anammox, were tried out using Picken’s ‘Delft Green’ curing compound as a basis. The most successful results have been achieved with the combination of Delft Green curing compound and Vivianite (aka Blue Ochre, hydrated iron sulphate), ironic because this compound is known in the history of painting for being an unstable pigment.

Beautiful natural, organic patterns emerged through chemical reactions (with Vivianite) and physical surface drying (applicable for CNC) which have a definite likeness to Sujata’s photographic work. These patterns give us a glimpse of what we can do to improve our concrete landscape.

3 main themes emerged :

Photosensitivity – a key theme for us with Sujata’s background in photography and also Stephen’s keen interest and practice of it. One of the aims we set out with was examining possible visual changes due to sunlight and weather.

Results not only with Vivianite, but also compounds used in photographic processes.

Pattern Formation – original premise of the residency and coming together of Stephen and Sujata – Sujata’s photos were full of emergent chaotic patterns and she wanted to understand more about (re)creating these.

Living? surfaces – patterns formed by living organisms, foodstuffs and resulting growths, over time. Conversely, also ‘organic’ patterns formed by non-living materials.

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