Six Building Materials & The Six Architects That Luv ‘Em!

It’s almost romantic. Almost. No, no it’s really not; but they are kind of a match made in design and science.  Musicians have their favorite instrument (and brand), video game enthusiasts have their favorite games, chefs have their favorite foods and spices to create their delicacies, and architects have their favorite material to utilized in the designs of their buildings. It seem’s appropriate to talk about the materials the these design professionals seem to love since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so….here we go!

Matarazzo Pavilion. Image © Flickr User: ArtExplorer

1) Oscar Neimeyer + Concrete

Neimeyer understood and took pride in concrete’s aesthetic (as a symbol of modernity) and potential for structural plasticity, and often put on display it’s shimmering, smooth white surfaces in works as distinct as the Cathedral of Brasília, the UN Headquarters in New York, and for many of his symbolic buildings in Brazil’s new capital, Brasília, in 1956, which defined the heart of the civic area of the city and much of Brazilian Modernism.

Jyvaskyla University. Image © Nico Saieh

2) Alvar Aalto + Brick

Triple-threat Alvar Aalto (who was a designer, sculptor and painter), has numerous buildings and projects the heavily featured bricks, from the experimental Muuratsalo to the angled/curved brick design of Jyvaskyla University’s monolithic facades. Aalto understood the holistics of design, from the smallest detail to the largest component, including the interior furnishings, glasswares, and lighting fixtures.

Heydar Aliyev Center. Image © Iwan Baan

3) Zaha Hadid + Composite Fibres

Zaha Hadid and her firm are known for their building’s parametric designs that utilize new materials to display complex geometries, as many of their building’s skins are clad in different types of composite fibres. There’s the near-seamless flowing exterior of the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku that uses Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester (GFRP) and London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery uses a fairly similar technique.

Walt Disney Concert Hall. Image © Philipp Rümmele

4) Frank Gehry + Metals

Hmm, THIS guys seems to be a favorite here at The PractitioNERD. The Mr. I-Troll-My-H.O.A. architect Frank Gehry is well known for the Guggenheim Museum (the titanium clad one in Bilbao) as well as his over-generous uses of shiny, silvery, fluid-like, distorted-form metal cladding on other buildings, ranging from the stainless steel clad Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas that are often the focus of many a city’s skyline.

GC Prostho Museum Research Center. Image © Daici Ano

5) Kengo Kuma + Wood

Japanese firm Kengo Kuma + Associates are responsible for some of the world’s most visually appealing modern wooden structures, showcased in the internal spaces of the Cité des Arts et de la Culture in France and the GC Prostho Museum Research Center in Japan.  They have the ability to take a heavy and dense material like wood and make it appear soft and light. And yeah, I know that I’m putting a firm, but Kuma-san is still an individual who runs the firm, so it’s NOT cheating.

Louvre Lens. Image © Julien Lanoo

6) SANAA + Glass

Ok, NOW I’m kinda cheating here listing a firm rather than a singular architect, but whatever. Japanese-based firm SANAA are known for expertly crafting glass around translucent spaces as a way to dissipate any sense of weight and gravity. The Louvre Lens uses mirrors and hidden detailing to make the glass the only visible material, and the New Art Museum in New York City uses a unique combination of glass, anodised aluminium mesh and white painted walls that results in the building’s semi-transparent shimmer.

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