In Italy, Giacomo Guidotti e Riccarda Guidotti Studio di Architettura designed a home that uses prefabricated concrete wall panels as the exterior cladding. That's common in commercial and industrial buildings but rarely seen in residential construction.
One advantage of this method: the concrete forms both the exterior and interior wall surfaces, reducing time spent on finishes.
(Hat tip: materialicious)
The Swiss Architecture Museum included the home in an exhibition last year:
The Casa Grossi in Monte Carasso (2000-04) is particularly interesting. It is a narrow, rectangular building, a dwelling on the fringe of the building zone. This minimalist structure, clad with prefabricated concrete elements, conveys an impression of being hermetically sealed to the outside world, but surprises us with an atrium inside - serving as both a stairwell and an access core - lit from a roof light on the 2nd floor.
Here's some background information on prefabricated concrete wall panels from an excellent reference site called the Whole Building Design Guide.
Paul E. Gaudette explains:
Architectural precast concrete has been used since the early twentieth century and came into wide use in the 1960s. The exterior surface of precast concrete can vary from an exposed aggregate finish that is highly ornamental to a form face finish.... Some precast panels act as column covers while others extend over several floors in height and incorporate window openings...
In general, prefabricated concrete wall panels can serve one of two purposes:
Precast cladding or curtain walls are the most common use of precast concrete for building envelopes. These types of precast concrete panels do not transfer vertical loads but simply enclose the space. They are only designed to resist wind, seismic forces generated by their own weight, and forces required to transfer the weight of the panel to the support....
Load-bearing wall units resist and transfer loads from other elements and cannot be removed without affecting the strength or stability of the building.
It's not clear whether the Casa Grossi wall panels are load bearing.