Ductal®, a new Ultra High Performance Concrete by NIcole Sherman

fineconcrete announces sublicense agreement with Lafarge North America for the design and production of concrete furnishings using Ultra High Performance Concrete

fineconcrete is one of a select few custom design companies in the United States granted a sublicense to investigate the architectural potential of Ductal®, a new Ultra High Performance Concrete.  Lafarge’s proprietary mix design allows the studio to explore new elements, with incomparable surface detail and limitless forms.

This innovative concrete that is up to 10 times stronger than conventional concrete with unprecedented compressive and flexural strength, allowing finer, thinner, lighter and more elegant designs. The chemistry is cutting edge while still embracing the natural qualities of concrete.

A visionary design studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, fineconcrete focuses on the production of concrete furniture, surfaces and architecture. The studio emphasizes the tactile quality of design and utilizes digital fabrication, designing objects that are sensuous and seductive, sculptural pieces with the highest degree of craft.

With design backgrounds in architecture and over 18 years of experience in custom fabrication, the studio envisions and fabricates concrete sinks, tables, benches, fireplaces, bathtubs, countertops, and other furnishings as well as intricate tiles and wall panels.

• Ultra High Performance: a UHPC developed and supplied by Lafarge Group, a leading manufacturers of cement, concrete and aggregates in the world, active in 64 countries, employing about 68,000 people around the world. Fine concrete works directly with Lafarge North America in Canada.

• High Strength: a specially formulated ductile material blended with cement, silica fume, ground quartz, fine silica sand, superplasticizer, water, and steel or organic fibers.

• Fiber-reinforced: a material with high tensile strength, it can support major deformations without structural cracking and has ductility. Ductal® achieves this engineering feat by progressively absorbing the energy applied and efficiently dispersing it throughout the matrix. It requires little or no passive steel reinforcement and elimiates the need for rebar, allowing thinner and more complex forms

• Resistant: it has exceptional resistance to abrasion, impacts, saline environments or extremely harsh temperatures.

• Durable: it is up to 1,000 times more durable; its longevity is 2 to 3 times longer than that of conventional concrete.

• Self-consolidating: its microfine aggregates make it more dense and consistent. It has very low porosity, offering resistance to scratching and staining.

• Fine: it is capable of the most intricate detailing, with unlimited surface textures, finishes and colors.

• Innovative: capable of very thin complex forms, creating lighter weight elements.

• Sustainable: takes less energy to manufacture, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of natural resources. It also uses substantially less water in the fabrication of elements and there is no off gassing. Ductal® projects and products can contribute to LEED certification credits.

• Properties: Conventional Concrete vs Ductal®

Compressive Strength: Concrete: 3,000 – 7,000 psi  Ductal® : 20,000 – 29,000 psiw

Flexural strength: Concrete: 570 – 750 psi typ   Ductal® : 2,175 – 5,800 psi

Porosity: Concrete: 12 – 16% Ductal® : 1.5 – 6%


fine concrete new location! charlottesville virginia by NIcole Sherman

We have moved to bigger digs! Our new expanded studio and fabrication shop is located at 1985 Snow Point Lane in Charlottesville, Virginia.

We have more space for our research and design explorations as well as our custom concrete fabrication shop: countertops, sinks, bathtubs, fireplaces and furnishings as well as new research and design in modular wall panel systems, landscape and urban furniture, and screen walls. Our own proprietary concrete mix design allows for super fine finish and tactile surfaces. We are also one of a handful of designers in the United States licensed to use the patented Ultra High Performance Concrete mix design, Ductal®.

Our hours are by appointment, but visit our images on the website anytime or contact us by email (studio@fineconcrete.com) or cell: Alexander Kitchin (434-242-7536) and Nicole Sherman (434-825-7643)

Concrete Countertops: Fine Concrete by NIcole Sherman

These images are a small collection of the different aspects of our designs for the kitchen – infinite varieties of color, finish and thickness, integral sinks, drainboards and trivets. Together they indicate the many possibilities of concrete, but they represent a fraction of our overall work. Also part of the fun, is that new ideas, and the forms those ideas take, are limitless. As a material, concrete actually does not have any form of its own – it defies the modernist rules of “letting the material be what it wants to be”, it is fluid and amorphous.  Its only inherent structural form is the shadow of what was before and the process it took to build it.  So, concrete is a reflection. Without an inherent form, concrete can be anything. We ask, how can it be a catalyst for our desire?

We have been designing with the material for over 18 years and come to the process as architects and artisans, re-envisioning the material in each project we create. We have a variety of mix designs, including the cutting edge, high design-oriented UHPC – the ultra high performance concrete.

All of our mixes yield concrete that it is extremely strong and durable, has a super fine finish, is renewable and has a low environmental impact. The forms the concrete takes can often be repeated, but still each time are unique. And so, now we ask you “what do you want it to be?”

Twenty Six Bathtubs by NIcole Sherman

Twenty-six concrete bathtubs require meticulous formwork, inspired fabrication systems, and more than a few cups of coffee. fineconcrete was commissioned to fabricate custom concrete bathtubs for the Terraces, modern apartments and lofts on the downtown mall. Working with the owner, the studio determined the overall design and fabrication system with a strategy for installing a new vessel in a built-in environment. Our shop created a fiberglass form into which we poured orange-red rubber for a mold that is not only a pretty cool design object in itself, but also is capable of sustaining repetitive castings. The first tubs are cast a deep stone black and feel amazing, like soaking in a smooth, carved-out river stone. More to follow…

Inner forms by NIcole Sherman

Sometimes our forms are as interesting as the design piece. We think they are sensuous and evocative and know that they are the reason the final piece is fabulous.

We thought you might like a peek inside a few…

Concrete Countertops – Capital Hill by NIcole Sherman

Concrete starts as a liquid – our innovative designs and three-dimensional forms flow from the material. We love the challenge of unusual shapes and pour large surfaces without seams or joints and create designs for kitchen islands with integral sides and spaces for storage. We recently fabricated a cool kitchen island and concrete countertops for a townhouse in Washington D.C. that highlighted these unique aspects of concrete. Designed as a three dimensional piece of furniture with Studio Twenty Seven Architecture, the concrete was imagined as a ribbon wrapping and revealing the custom bamboo cabinets. Perimeter countertops and a fire table were also part of the vision for this project. The master bath took on a more monolithic and sculptural nature with an integral, sloped sink and recesses for storage. The designs received regional awards and were featured in national and international magazines.



tandem drinking fountains by NIcole Sherman

Recently, Tandem Friends School commissioned fine CONCRETE to design a series of water fountains that would replace their current cup-and-cooler system, and champion their mission to reduce their environmental footprint by producing less waste and highlighting the importance of water in our daily lives. Four fountains were specified for the middle and upper schools; the design sought to emphasize simplicity, function, and elegance, while making a statement for the school.

The concrete drinking fountains we proposed were designed as a two-tiered system of distinct concrete elements interacting together in a conversation of overlapping forms.  Combinations of cantilevers and legged structures float off the wall, and while the two basins visually connect, they are held off of each other in tension. The basins of the fountains are folded planes of tactile surface that encourage interaction by studetns and teachers.  The majority of plumbing is integral with the formwork and can accommodate a water cooler if desired. The fountains are ADA compliant and can be specified in gray, black or green with custom colors available in a variety of palettes.

Tandem was wonderful to work with – we applaud their mission and thank Beck Cohen for their enthusiasm and expertise in helping to plumb this new system.


end of summer at sandbridge by NIcole Sherman

A  new  living  room  on  the  dunes  of  Virginia  was  designed  with  large  and  small  gatherings  in  mind.    An  ellipse  of  4” thick  white  concrete  is  a  solid  anchor  for  the  family,  resting  on  three  pillars  rising  out  of  the  sand.  The  pillars  are  off-­‐set  from  the  center  and  are  formed  so  that  they  rise  askew,  providing  maximum  structure,  ample  knee  room  and  a  fun,  disorienting  visual  moment.  The  finished  decking  hovers  above  the  dunes  and  directly  connects  the  main  house  to  the  beach  beyond.

The  Sandbridge  project  was  a  great  start  for  Patrick  Schoonover  –  our  new  lead  fabricator  in  the  fine  concrete  studio.  The  road  trip  and  three  days  at  the  beach  was  anything  but  conventional.  Patrick  started  day  one  with  digging  a  very  large  hole;  the  concrete  pillars  that  are  the  three  supports  to  the  table  can  withstand  hurricane  winds  and  waves,  so  they  have  most  of  their  mass  underground.  The  polished  white  concrete  includes  shells  from  the  ocean,  but  is  a  refined  surface  with  a  high  degree  of  finish.  The  table  is  sized  so  it  is  intimate  for  two,  but  can  accommodate  the  extended  family  that  gathers  during  the  summer.  We  finished  off  the  week  with  a  load  of  steamed  crabs  and  a  night  of  karoke,  a  truly  memorable  time  in  the  life  of  the  studio.

Luckily, no  pictures  from  karoke  night….. 

fine concrete update by NIcole Sherman

We have been busy in the studio and shop and have officially launched the new company fineCONCRETE by elbwrm. We have been fabricating custom concrete countertops for over 18 years, but also love to play with the 3 dimensional aspects of this unique material in our concrete furniture for residential and commercial uses and a new line of urban products.

elbwrm will be focusing on architecture, art and research with Alexander teaching a series of studios and modules at the University of Virginia School of Architecture.

fine CONCRETE will be announcing an exciting new development in the next few weeks. But for now – we are pleased to welcome Patrick Schoonover as lead fabricator in the shop. Patrick graduated in the spring with an undergraduate degree from the Architecture School at UVA.

On the Boards: In addition to our ongoing gallery at Chroma Projects in Charlottesville, we will be part of an upcoming furniture show in Richmond this Fall – a select group of local designers will be shown at Modern Artifactson Cary Street. Fine CONCRETE will be featuring a limited run of tables and small-scale designs. We will forward the announcement when it is released.

For the Record: We have recently designed a series of concrete and metal interconnecting rolling tables forOpenGrounds at UVA. Brian Williams was the lead fabricator for this project, a graduate of the masters program at UVA.