Typically hidden behind plasterboard, blockwork is a common form of masonry construction that uses chunky concrete blocks to create load-bearing or non-load-bearing walls.
However, many designers from around the world opt to expose the blockwork instead, creating tactile interiors and minimalist backdrops for the owners’ possessions, while also reducing construction costs and times.
This is the latest roundup in our Dezeen Lookbooks series that provide visual inspiration for designers and design enthusiasts. Previous lookbooks include homes with exposed brickwork, texture-heavy restaurants and dark and moody interiors.
Inside, portions of the blockwork are left uncovered, complemented by white walls and wooden furnishings. In the dining area, it forms a minimalist backdrop for a slender wooden table and a trio of black Wishbone Chairs designed by Hans J Wegner.
Clerestory windows sit on top of the concrete masonry at the Bare House, which Jacobs-Yaniv Architects‘ founders Tamar Jacobs and Oshri Yaniv built for themselves on the coast of Herzlia.
The blockwork is revealed internally to create continuity between inside and outside, where the blocks are also exposed. The material also requires little maintenance.
The pigmented blocks, which also line the exterior of the dwelling, were chosen for being a robust and economical material. They were installed with a matching flush mortar and are married with white-oiled oak detailing and polished concrete floors.
Timber plank cladding offers a counterpoint to the blockwork base of the Catching Sun House, which London architect Studioshaw designed for a hidden infill site in Walthamstow.
The concrete blocks, which are joined with bright white mortar, are exposed both inside and outside the dwelling for an industrial look. They are brightened by white mortar, timber-lined ceilings and colourful furniture including five DSR Side Chairs by Charles and Ray Eames.
Brazilian studio Terra e Tuma revealed the blockwork structure of Villa Matilde, a skinny house designed for an elderly woman living in São Paulo.
The masonry blocks enabled the studio to work to a strict budget and build the house quickly. Exposing the blockwork also adds tactility to the interiors, which have been kept deliberately simple with few furnishings to suit the limited mobility of its owner.
Uncovered blockwork features throughout this pair of houses that CODA Bespoke designed for twin brothers on the site of an old corn mill in Sheffield.
The two dwellings have unique layouts but are unified by their industrial aesthetic that was achieved using a material palette of concrete blocks, plywood and steel. While being low maintenance, these materials were chosen as a nod to the site’s industrial heritage.
At House K in Tokyo, Japanese architecture studio TANK used concrete blocks to construct a series of bespoke kitchen and storage units that suit its client’s “brutal taste”.
In other areas of the apartment, the blocks have been used to build low partition walls. In tandem with sheer curtains, these partitions define boundaries between rooms without truncating the space.
A combination of untreated timber and bare concrete masonry characterises this pared-back cottage extension that Nielsen Jenkins designed for an artist and art gallery director in Brisbane.
While the material palette was dictated by the client’s restricted budget, the texture of the blockwork helped to create the extension’s centrepiece – a statement fireplace that rises up through its centre and pierces through the roof.
Dark uncovered blockwork constructed with bright white mortar forms the monolithic lower ground of the Catskills House, a family holiday home in Upstate New York.
Architecture studio J_spy reduced the visual impact of the concrete internally by breaking it up with large windows that frame its bucolic surroundings and introducing bolts of colour with art and furniture.
The main image is of Catching Sun House by James Brittain.
This is the latest in our series of lookbooks providing curated visual inspiration from Dezeen’s image archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks showcasing home libraries, Shaker-style rooms and stylish plywood interiors.