Materials Every Architect Needs to Know

If the cold metal handle, a warm wooden wall and hard glass window were replaced by a hard glass handle, a cold metal wall and warm wooden windows, they’d create a completely different atmosphere. It’s the materiality of a building, and our bodies are in close contact with our bodies. All three of these factors, form, function and location, are inextricably linked to materiality.

We compiled a list of different materials, from the well-known (Beton and Steel) to elements that some of our readers may not be familiar with, like whey protein, in each architect’s vocabulary of design.

Here We Go!


Because concrete is the world’s most common building material, it’s a great place to learn about it. However, it does have important environmental impacts, including a carbon footprint that accounts for up to 5% of world emissions.

Timber is one of the oldest and most traditional construction materials in the world, of course. The material can take up new shapes and this versatile material reaches new heights with a high-rise building and even translucent qualities. ReThink Wood is a wonderful resource for wood design and architects to learn more.


The explosion from city skylines, as we know it, was retrieved from steel that is used extensively for reinforcement but is also used in many examples as lovely skin. SteelConstruction.info is a wiki with all the information about steel building you need to know.

While may some people regard it as an inexpensive, unsustainable material, the potential offered by plastic should not be ignored. Many of them are produced; why don’t we use architecture or bioplastics? What about the entire new world created by 3D printing? The American Chemistry Council offers an excellent overview of the material of plastics and a list of their most common architectural applications.

In a broad range of colours, textures and strengths, Stone is another material that has been used for decades in specific geographical areas around the world. It can be worked in a variety of forms despite its bulky physicality. For many of the most popular stone types of construction, the Building Stone Institute maintains various resources, including fact sheets and specification sheets.


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