Spacer Block Wall

Tags: arts, exhibition, concrete, surprise, temporary

Related projects: Glass Cave

  • Client: Arup
  • Curators: Jennifer Greitschus and Deborah Smith
  • Graphic Design: Wolfram Wiedner Studio
  • Contractor: Westby Young and the Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Value: Confidential
  • Start Date: May 2016
  • End Date: July 2016
  • Photography by: Neil Evensen
Spacer Block Wall detail Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall Exhibition Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall Blocks Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall Process Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall Assembly Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall formwork Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall photo 2 Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall Exhibition 2 Interrobang
Spacer Block Wall Photo 1 Interrobang

This curving wall made of concrete spacer blocks celebrates the unsung heroes of concrete. It was created for ‘Concrete Inspirations’, an exhibition at Arup about the innovative use of concrete. The exhibition celebrates Ove Arup's enthusiasm for a material that has captured the imagination of engineers, architects and artists alike. In response to this subject, Interrobang created a curving exhibition wall from concrete spacer blocks. The wall organises the space, creating sinuous nooks delineating each theme within the exhibition, and provides a surface on which to mount the artworks.

Normally used to support the reinforcement bars during construction, spacer blocks are concealed within the concrete. They’re probably unknown to most people and yet they’re all around us, buried inside our floors and walls. Their waisted form is designed both to support the re-bar and present a minimal impact on the finished cast. Here they are turned on their sides and mortared together to form a slender, flowing form, curved to ensure its stability. As this is an unusual application of spacer blocks, load tests were carried out using various adhesive options before deciding upon a Hilti injectable masonry mortar. To achieve the fine little dabs required, the mortar was piped like icing onto the blocks. Adjustable jigs were CNC-cut from MDF to allow the team to accurately assemble the spacer blocks within a constrained timeframe.