Peter Arkle

From the floor plate to the façade, concrete and masonry are ubiquitous in the building envelope. This week, we’re spotlighting products that give the commonplace inclusions an eco-friendly or fashionable face—among them, a low-cement-content masonry block and an ultra-thin concrete surface.

Watershed Block, Watershed Materials
Eco-friendly alternatives to masonry products that include Portland cement and limestone are few and far between. Among them is a new masonry unit from Watershed Materials made of fused soil and rock fragments, including quartz, feldspar, clay, and other minerals. The hollow-celled blocks each weigh approximately 30 lbs.—up to 15% more than standard concrete blocks but with half the cement content. The variety of each one’s contents results in color variation emulating natural rock forms. The blocks measure 16” long, 8” tall, and 4”, 6”, or 8” deep.

Watershed Materials

Mews Artisanal Collection, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
Inspired by London’s physical landscape, British designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby reimagine the city’s brick houses and streets, wooden floors, and other less-intentional geometries in their Mews Artisanal  series of porcelain floor and wall tiles. For Italian tile maker Mutina, the collection is offered in six neutral colorways with a palette of 15 hues to reflect shifting light patterns. The artisanal tiles can be installed laterally, horizontally, and in a chevron pattern.


Monarch Cored Brick, CalStar
CalStar ranks among the masonry manufacturers that are seeking an alternative to traditional fabrication processes that are heavy in carbon-dioxide emissions. Made from up to 37% recycled content and without Portland cement, CalStar’s products use approximately 20% the energy and emit 15% the carbon dioxide of traditional concrete block production, the company says. Among its latest releases is the Monarch Cored Brick, which measures 15’ 5/8” and weighs 12.13 lbs.


InterlockingRock Blocks, ModularArts
Joining drywall, glass, and textiles as materials used to partition interior is ModularArts’ series of cast-mineral-composite sculptural screens designed to segment spaces through their bold geometries. InterlockingRock Blocks’ bio-based foam core reduces the modules’ weight. Available in 11 patterns (Hive, shown), each module measures 24” wide, 32” tall, and up to 8” deep.


8” by 8” Standard Paver, Azek
New from decking manufacturer Azek is an 8”-square paver designed to meet demand for larger profile options in hardscape applications. Made from up to 95% post-consumer recycled material derived from tires and plastic, the paver joins the company’s modular series whose components interlock to form a grid. Five colors and three sizes are offered.


Roxipan, Roxipan – LineBéton
Outfitting a building’s interior with concrete and masonry finishes can be a challenge due to their weight and labor-intensive installation. Roxipan released a line of pre-finished concrete surfaces, comprising 3mm-thick concrete veneer adhered to a semi-rigid backing panel. For use on floors, walls, and counters, the lightweight panels (those designed for the floor weigh 2.5 lbs. per square foot) are offered in a variety of textures and hues, including basalt black, shown.


This article has been updated.

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