How can we transport ourselves to natural environments when we are in completely urban situations? The materiality of our surroundings is an important factor that determines the atmosphere we inhabit. In many cases, the use of natural materials in interior architecture can help evoke nature in our daily spaces. In this article, we will specifically analyze the effect that cork has as a special resource in the design of interior spaces. Cork is the bark of a tree species called cork oak. When extracted from the tree, it is transformed into a useful raw product and can be applied to a variety of different uses.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, the use of raw materials can save resources by bypassing the use of additional coatings and processes. This type of solution was most commonly used in utility buildings, such as infrastructure, factories, and warehouses. Exposed concrete floors, for example, were primarily found in industrial spaces, parking lots, and gas stations. However, they are increasingly being used in structures of different programs due to their appearance, durability, resistance, and vast possibilities for finishes. But what are the main factors to be aware of when using a concrete floor for a project?
In recent years, much attention has been given to timber constructions. Being a sustainable and renewable material, which captures a huge amount of carbon during its growth, the innovations related to this material have allowed for increasingly higher constructions. However, when we talk about wood we approach an immense variety of species, with different strengths, nuances, potentials, limitations and recommended uses. While there are extremely hard and heavy woods, with strengths comparable to concrete, there are other soft and soft woods that are suitable for other purposes.
The history of architecture shows that the use of raw materials has always been somewhat common, whether in ancient vernacular techniques or within the Brutalist movement, to name a few. It is evident that the language of a project is often linked to its material, as various sensations and the perception of space are directed by the aesthetic and physical quality of the given element. For this reason, we have gathered ten buildings that highlight the quality of their materials, whether to make a statement, reinterpret a technique from the past, or to re-signify the potency of some of these elements.
As cliché as it may sound, there are two things that architects really like: exposed concrete and the color black. While concrete offers a distinctive rough aesthetic, emphasizing the tones, textures, and surfaces that shape the concrete mixture, the sobriety that the color black provides allows the architect to highlight specific characteristics precisely. Combining the two seems natural. But black pigmented concrete is not as common as we might imagine. Below we talk a little about the black concrete production process and some projects that use it.
Hemp is one of the oldest crops domesticated by humans. With its wide variety of uses and applications, it’s easy to understand why it’s been a desirable product throughout history. Hemp seeds and flowers are used in health foods, medicines, and organic beauty products; the fibers and stalks of the hemp plant are used in clothing, paper, and biofuel. Today even a waste product of hemp fiber processing, so-called hemp shives, is being utilized to create sustainable building materials like hempcrete.
Hempcrete is a bio-aggregate concrete, where the hemp shives - small pieces of wood from the stalk of the plant - are mixed with either a lime or mud cement to create a durable, eco-friendly building material. Hempcrete is lightweight and non-structural, but can instead be integrated with traditional building construction systems. Similar to traditional concrete, it can be either cast-in-place or prefabricated into building components like blocks or sheets.
Peter Zumthor, in one of his most emblematic works, gives concrete an almost sacred dimension. The work in question is the small Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, located in a small village in Germany, a construction that is both robust and sensitive. Built with white cement, which was mixed with stones and sand from the region, the chapel is composed of 24 layers of concrete that were poured day after day by local labor, and compressed in an unusual way. The building's flat and smooth exterior contrasts with its interior, which was initially made of inclined wooden logs forming a triangular void. To remove these internal forms, the logs were set on fire in a controlled process, reducing them to ash and creating a carbonized interior that varied between black and gray and retained the texture of the negatives of the logs. The result is a masterpiece of architecture, a space for reflection and transformation, in which the same material appears in diametrically opposing ways.
The world of architecture and construction has observed, with increasing attention, technological innovations involving wood. Although it is a material that has been widely used for thousands of years, recent research involving industrial manufacturing and machining technologies has provided even greater quality control and an increased diversity of uses, causing it to be described by many as the material of the future. To this end, common myths including wood's lack of resistance to fire and the implausibility of using it to structure tall buildings have been debunked.
Kengo Kuma's architecture can be defined by its respect to Japanese constructive traditions and alignment with its context. Internationally recognized, the architect is known mainly for his wooden (or mixed) structures, which arise from a simple pattern of assembly and, which through different intersections and angles, generate a complex whole. The representations created by his team bring very specific details, ranging from didactic isometrics to complex parametric drawings. We have gathered details of five inspiring projects by Kengo Kuma that use wood.
The use of wood in the construction of Chilean houses demonstrates the possibilities offered by renewable resources available in the country. The benefits are multiple: wood can be an extremely sustainable material when produced and processed under certain conditions since it can have a very low carbon footprint. Meanwhile, as a construction system, it is characterized by its warmth, resistance, and durability.
Is wood the future of construction?
Rotation, displacement, and interleaving of blocks are some of the options that enable the diversity of raw brick patterns in architecture. The shape of these elements, usually used for the construction of walls, has been explored in a creative way to compose facades of residential buildings, representing the formal identity of the building itself and its relationship with its context.
Often recognized as one of the most widespread constructive materials in the world, brick is, with no doubts, very versatile, low-cost and easily applied. Although it usually used in vertical surfaces, it also presents excellent properties when applied to horizontal ones, like floors.