During the initial conceptualisation and resulting architectural design of any building, the materials to be used are carefully considered. Where this was once a task which involved few options – wood, stone and metal, now architects and builders are faced with myriad choices including polymers, alloys, carbon structures, bricks and toughened glass. When combined with traditional materials these ‘new kids on the block’ have the potential to revolutionise the design and functionality of a building – thus breaking new precedents and revitalising the look and feel of our towns and cities.
Allies in Alloy
Alloys were first created in early primitive times when warriors crafted their weapons from Bronze and early Iron – and their evolution through the years means that most people are familiar with them in day to day life. But few understand that whilst the creation of an alloy involves the amalgamation of two elements, usually metals, the properties of the resulting material can be vastly different to the original characteristics of the two ingredients. Additionally few appreciate that alloys can be created from other materials as well as metals, including silicone and phosphorus. One of the recent most prolific players in the alloy world is Titanium Alloy – a mixture of the chemical element Titanium and other elements depending on its final usage. Unbelievably strong yet feather-light, its use in aircraft has given rise to its widespread inclusion in the construction of innovative new skyscrapers who need more malleable yet sturdy materials to achieve their unusual shapes.
Carbon is still an underrated material and is little spoken about in mainstream circles, yet in the world of construction and architecture it has proved a worthy ally for those looking to push the boundaries and create economic, innovatively-designed buildings which are still strong and weather- resistant. In recent years carbon fibre is being used to create vast decorative structures as well as in the integral elements and main infrastructures of new buildings, as owing to its unique properties of incredible strength, low expansion rate when exposed to heat, and very small weight density it is suitable for many types of new properties and developments.
Bricks and mortar certainly aren’t dead yet – and nor are traditional methods such as timber frame and stone construction. These are now seen as charming touches to modernised structures – often timber and stone are accompanied by swathes of floor-to-ceiling glass, whilst bricks can now be many colours and can serve to give a property a more authentic feel whilst remaining strong and eco-friendly.