Materials that Architects Love the Most

Materials that Architects Love the Most

While many of the world's best known architects use a variety of materials for their buildings, they often become defined by one material that revolutionizes their career.  In this article we explore 6 of the most famous building materials and learn which architects are famously known for using the material in their projects. 

image © Ivan Gonzalez

image © Ivan Gonzalez

1) Concrete

In the 70's concrete was viewed as being a cold and inhuman material. This was mostly because of the process involved in building a concrete building and the appearance of concrete as it ages. 

In recent years however, concrete has been given a new reputation as an underestimated material that is full of potential. While it is still predominately used as a stabilizing material, is has proven to be adaptable and lately been used as facades, floor surfaces, furniture and more. 

In addition to the adaptive designs of concrete, it can now be treated with various chemicals to give it a different appearance than predecessor buildings. 

Although multiple architects have been known to create various concrete buildings, one of the most famous architects that used concrete is Oscar Neimeyer. He challenged the structural elements of concrete to create distinct works such as the Cathedral of Brasilia, the UN Headquarters in New York, or the Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer.

image © Balcer

image © Balcer

2) Brick

Perhaps as old as architecture itself, brick has been a prominent building material used for many years and by multiple architects.

One of the most famous brick buildings is The Colosseum in Rome, Italy. However, one of the most famous contemporary architects that use brick today is Alvar Aalto. He has completed projects that incorporated both angled and curved bricks, and always places emphasis on the attention to detail with his buildings.

image © Chuck Moravec

image © Chuck Moravec

3) Composite Fibres

One of the latest fascinations in architecture is using composite fibres to achieve intricate designs. You can think of composite fibres as giving the building a type of skin.

The architect most famous for composite fibres is Zaha Hadid. Almost all of the buildings completed by Zaha Hadid's agency includes the use of composite fibres to achieve a unique mixed material appearance. One of the most notable buildings that uses composite fibres is the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku which features Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester at around the roof and at the entrance of the building. 

image © Madcoverboy 

image © Madcoverboy 

4) Metals

In recent years individuals have been researching various properties of metal. They've been testing the strength, durability, and weight factors of metals. In 2011 a research company called HRL Labortatories - owned by US company Boeing had discovered the worlds most lightweight metal - it has a thickness of just 100 nanometers and is composed of 99% air. 

While further advancements with metal are expected to be made over the course of the next few years, we can infer that Frank Genry (the current well known metal architect) will respond by making a building that incorporates the latest metal forms. 

image © Forgemind ArchiMedia

image © Forgemind ArchiMedia

5) Wood

As many architects compete to have the tallest timber structure, others are attempting to bend the conventions on the way wood should be used in architecture. An architect that has proved to be successful with this is the Japanese practice Kengo Kuma + Associates. 

image © 3deluxe

image © 3deluxe

6) Glass

Even though glass isn't the material of choice for many large buildings, it has been gaining popularity in recent years for smaller scale projects and to add intricacy to designs. One of the most enticing elements of glass is the ability for it to manipulate a space to look larger, brighter, and some cases with the combination of mirrors and glass it can provide an aesthetic of  invisibility. 


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