I know what you're going to say.
You're going to say Cumbernauld, aren't you? Let me throw something back at you. The Pantheon in Rome. Next time you are in the Piazza della Rotunda (it could happen) step inside, and look up at the 2000-year-old ceiling. As you watch the sunshine streaming through the hole in the roof in a solid shaft of light remind yourself you are standing under what is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete span.
Concrete gets a bad rap. Maybe that's to be expected given our post-war history of failed housing estates and new towns. But I'm not sure it's fair. Too often concrete architecture is blamed for those failings when it should be councillors or corner-cutting or slashed budgets or misapplied utopian thinking.
Setting aside brutalist architecture (and some of us think there is a case for the defence) the fact is concrete remains one of the most versatile of building materials. It's beautiful too. Really.
Even a cursory look at William Hall's handsome new book Concrete (Phaidon Press, £29.95) reveals that. The curvaceous concrete ramp of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the surprising delicacy of Frank Lloyd Wright's design for a private home at Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and Louis Khan's monumental National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a building that looks like a phrase written in some alien language; all of them speak to what is possible with this material. It also feels great to touch.
There are so many bad buildings – crumbling tower blocks, dreary factories, anonymous car parks – made with concrete. Don't judge it on what it does badly. Judge it on what it does best. The most iconic building in Australia is the Sydney Opera House. It's clad in white ceramic tiles but underneath is pure concrete.
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