Raw materials create warmth and intimacy

What materials are currently on the rise in global architecture? And how can a specific material help to unite design and function?

David Basulto is an architect and chief editor and co-founder of the world's most visited architecture website, ArchDaily. Hear his thoughts on current trends in international building design.

What trend in the choice of materials in architecture would you particularly highlight?

An interesting trend is the use of local materials, in a raw state. This is perhaps less known in developed countries, but in other contexts the use of raw materials – wood, artisanal brick, stone – that come from a nearby forest or quarry has led to an interesting aesthetic that inspires architects in other countries.

An example is the use of bricks in Paraguay by architects such as Solano Benítez or Javier Corvalán.

What impact can the choice of materials have on a building's expression?

Continuing with the raw state of materials, by combining them with building products you can achieve more warm interiors that still maintain this raw aesthetics, but without appearing nude or uncomfortable.

An example is the cultural center that recently won the WOOD WOOL AWARD. Here, the use of wood wool turns a space that is very raw into a comfortable space for its users.

Function and aesthetics – do architects want to combine these two factors?

It is easy to lose focus when specifying materials to comply with certain requirements – technical, energy, etc. You can end up with a mix that does not have a character. And this is an important challenge for architects. The real "less is more"-issue.

It is all about how to get a material to stay true to its function while being an element of the building’s aesthetics. Take a ceiling for example that has to deal with installations, soundproofing and acoustics. How can you achieve all these requirements in the simplest way possible? 

How is the current focus on sustainability impacting on the choice of materials?

We are becoming more aware of our footprint, and with the amount of waste we see in the world we as architects are becoming more aware of the life cycle of our buildings.

If we can reduce this, by the scale of our work, we can surely have a positive and measurable impact in the environment. That is why choosing materials that have a low impact, that can help a building to perform better, or that are recycled, is crucial today.

David Basulto is an architect and chief editor and co-founder of ArchDaily, the world's most visited architecture website. Visit www.ArchDaily.com.