Ove Nordstrand and his nephew Aleksander Nordstrand traveled the furthest to participate in the demos—all the way from Norway. The Nordstrands demonstrated how to construct decorative vertical structural concrete without forms. Imagine trying to build formwork with curves in all three planes; it’s a very difficult task.
Over the years, Ove Norstrand developed and perfected a concrete mix design with little slump when stacked vertically. His knowledge of mix designs stems from his days as a ready-mix concrete business owner. When he started his decorative concrete company, Dekorbetong (betong is the Norwegian word for concrete) vertical “free-formed” concrete work became one of the decorative products. “The concrete mix is important,” he says. “But so is the skill of the finisher and the practice needed to do free-form work.”
When he arrived in Las Vegas, he visited the quality control lab at Nevada Ready-Mix, which supplied all of the concrete for the show. He discovered several differences in the local aggregates compared to what he was used to, so he adjusted his mix design and ran several trial batches.
On the first day of the demos, the ready-mix truck placed concrete on the ground in a pile. They used come-a-longs to pull concrete in rows where the wall was to be built. As the concrete stiffened, they pulled concrete on top of what was just placed. This process continued until the rows were stiff enough to use a shovel to cut vertical wall shapes. The trimmed concrete was placed by shovel on top of the wall, increasing the height to the final elevation. They made large hand floats with plywood and used them to further flatten and shape the wall surfaces. Then they stamped textures on all surfaces.
The following day, ready-mix concrete was delivered again. This time the Nordstrands built a set of circular steps against the corner of their wall. They applied dust-on colors and stamped texture on all surfaces.
View the other 2011 Artistry in Decorative Concrete participants and projects.