Iconic buildings are
brought to life by an amazing alchemical mixture of inspiration, intelligence,
persuasion, practicality and precise project management.
But they would never move
from drawing board sketches to brick and mortar edifices without the products
that provide structural integrity and distinct stylistic flair.
With that in mind,
here are five versatile products that materialise architectural visions.
Although concrete is
man-made, when applied with the requisite skill and imagination, it can bring
organic lines to life in a unique and unusual manner.
An excellent example
of this is the precast concrete cliff face of the iconic V&A Museum in Dundee. Architect Kengo Kuma’s inspiration for the
fabulous façade was the dramatic cliff faces found on Scotland’s north-east
coast and, thanks to this creative spark, this futuristic building blends
beautifully into its River Tay location.
From the symbolic
stained glass of medieval churches to modern double-glazing, glass is a
material which has served decorative and practical purposes since time
glass is perhaps used to its most breath taking effect in the skyscrapers which
punctuate our city skylines – think of The Shard’s sharp, sparkling stiletto
thrusting heavenward and there’s no doubt that this sand-based substance can create
fantastic flights of fancy.
Stone is used less on
modern buildings than it was in the past – a solid stone dwelling is more
expensive than a brick and timber kit edifice and sadly, some traditional
stonemasonry skills are in danger of being lost to the history books.
However, there are
some stunning instances of this terrifically tactile material being applied
with artistry to reasonably modern buildings – the Scottish Parliament’s Canongate Wall is a particularly fine example.
Wood has been a
construction material of choice since Noah built the ark – and it’s currently having a bit of a moment in contemporary architecture.
forms like CLT (Cross-Laminated Timber) are so versatile that they can be used
to create everything from floors and walls to stairs and soundproof chambers.
Architect Alex de Rijke of dRMM won the 2017 Stirling Prize for his CLT rebuild
of Hastings Pier, while architects Waugh Thistleton created a nine-storey block
built from engineered timber in Murray Grove, north London.
Wire is a wonderful
material that’s used in a wealth of applications – from heat transfer and
object suspension to puppetry and sculpture.
And it stands the test
of time, because wire and braid experts Ormiston Wire have been diversifying their offering since the
firm was founded in 1793 – projects of note include the umbrellas adorning
Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the eclipse of electrified moths above Old Spitalfield’s
Market and Thomas Heatherwick’s Bleigiessen sculpture at The Wellcome Trust in
London’s Euston Road.
And voila – a quintet
of marvellous materials that have made some of the most memorable architectural
We can’t wait to see
how these products are harnessed in future as out towns and cities transmogrify
to meet the demands of future citizens.
So ends our list,
but please share your own thoughts on brilliant building materials in the