Colour alterations of historic concrete surfaces during the Dutch Interwar Period

Herdis Heinemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


In the 1920s, the improved concrete technology and growing acceptance of concrete as an aesthetical material resulted in an increased application of coloured concrete. This includes the use of organic and inorganic pigments, ground natural stone, consciously chosen coarse aggregates, and also a new technique: metallisation. This rare, yet internationally applied, technique was patented in the Netherlands in 1917 and allowed a colour change of the hardened concrete by applying metal salts on its surface.

In conservation practice, there are misconceptions with respect to the period of application of exposed concrete and, in particular, of coloured concrete. The application of exposed concrete during the Interwar period (1918–1930s) is often not considered during inspections; this impacts the quality of value assessments, diagnosis of damage causes and choice of conservation strategies.

Besides limited knowledge of the varieties of coloured concrete, the fact that many historic concrete buildings have since been plastered or painted impedes its correct identification. This poses a challenge, as the deviating properties of historic concrete, both due to production methods and use of unproved constituents, can affect the durability of concrete. This paper focuses on the characteristics which can be encountered during visual inspections, an early and influential phase within the conservation process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-216
JournalCase Studies in Construction Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Historic concrete
  • Historic precast concrete
  • Conservation
  • Surface finishes
  • Metallisation
  • Pigments


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