How the Architectural World is Innovating with Non-Traditional Materials


Advancements in technology have allowed the architectural world to innovative beyond the traditional materials used in construction, and even experiment with new futuristic designs. The use of these non-traditional materials in architecture could revolutionise the shape of the world and our perceptions of the future cityscape. Here is a list of some of the most cutting-edge innovations used in construction and how they are revolutionising the architectural world. 

How rubber-coated surfaces are revolutionising architectural design

How the Architectural World is Innovating with Non-Traditional Materials

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An increasing number of architects are working with rubber to create surfaces that are durable, moisture resistant, impact retardant, and sound dampening. One of the ways rubber has innovated architectural design is through rubber matting that helps soften a person's fall. The use of rubber has become a common feature in playgrounds, and school yards to help prevent young children from injuring themselves as they play. More and more architects are looking at expanding this use of rubber to flooring in buildings like schools, nursing homes, hospitals and even multi-family housing. 

Rubber is also being used to replace traditional slate roofing tiles. These tiles are not only designed in a similar fashion to slate tiles, but they are durable too. This innovation in architectural design has many improvements over the traditional slate, including moisture resistance and better insulation ability. 

Rubber sheeting is also being used to create weather resistant building skins. Architectural firms have used rubber sheeting with visible fastening elements as stylish façade for a building outside wall, creating an outer wall that will not only protect the building from the weather but a stylish artistic statement.

The impact 3D printed material is having on the architectural world

How the Architectural World is Innovating with Non-Traditional Materials

Image Credit: Michael Hansmeyer

The use of 3D printed materials in the architectural world is increasing. Printed material gives the architect a greater control over long established building materials.

Michael Hansmeyer created a highly detailed gothic grotto using 3D-printed sandstone. This technology allowed them to push the boundaries of design and create forms that would have been impossible otherwise. This digital and computational architecture has also innovated the way that gargoyles and church facades can be repaired. 

The artistic inspiration and otherwise impossible designs 3D will allow can be seen through ambitious projects like Universe Architecture's Landscape House which uses 3D printing to create curving and twisted concrete for a building in the shapes of a Mobius Stripe. 

The ability to create artistic and elaborate designs is not the only reason 3D printed materials and buildings are taking the architectural world by storm. Dubai's Office of the Future has demonstrated that 3D printed buildings are not only more detailed but faster and easier to construct. They estimate a quarter of all buildings will be 3D printed by 2030.

Bolt Thread's revolutionary new 3D printed spider-silk material is also creating quite a stir in the architectural world. 

Incorporating living plants into the building designs

How the Architectural World is Innovating with Non-Traditional Materials

The idea of sustainability is becoming more and more dominant in the architectural world, and many architects are incorporating biological material into the design of a building. 

One building that has included a biological aspect to help with sustainability is Arup's SolarLeaf building in Hamburg. This building uses algae as a bio-reactive façade. As the sun gets brighter, algae grow creating a natural shade within the building. The algae help to reduce CO₂ emissions as it feeds carbon produced from heating systems. 

The use of fungus to create bricks has increasing applications in sustainable architecture. The Living's Hy-Fi constructed a forty-foot tower out of mycelium bricks that were light-weight and fully decomposable. The University of British Columbia are also using a combination of mushrooms and sawdust to create benches. This shows a move to have the very foundations of a building built from living organic matter. 

Eric Schlangen and Henk Jonkers have developed a biocement that is capable of self-healing cracks through the use of bacteria. The spore of bacteria that live within rock environments are introduced to the concrete and are awakened through water and nutrition. These bacteria metabolise the nutrients and produce a calcium-based mineral which will seal the crack and prevent moisture leaking through it. 

A lot more innovative and non-traditional materials are being introduced into architectural design. These architectural advancements increase the function, the aesthetics, and the sustainability of buildings.

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