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Can Architecture Material Elicit Emotion through It’s Composition?

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © batintherain | Flickr

Now that science is advancing in a way that impacts building innovation from an architecture material standpoint, you as an architect should look to bridge the gap between selecting materials and designing materials to be used in your building designs. After all, this is a great way to increase your design abilities by finding more tailored and bottom-up ways to meet the global push toward more sustainable, healthy and happier designs for your occupants. Needless to say, being able to give input into your design in such a refined and detailed way will also help you stay on the cutting-edge.

That is why very specialized consultants are now surfacing to help designers work together with scientists to innovate new material compositions to be used in all kinds of products. Just imagine if you as an architect could specify a very unique and personalized material as you are working on a particular aspect of your building.

If you stop to think about the possibilities here, you might begin to realize that you can create some very exciting effects by changing the qualities of many materials that we know today — think about giving the material of your choosing different colors, transparencies, temperatures, textures and so much more. In fact, if you look around, you will see signs that materials scientists are taking action — as can be evidenced in a recent article I read in SEED Magazine this month.

Designing Happy Spaces from the Bottom-Up: Material Composition

Specifically, the article entitled Living in a Material World, shows an entire library where new innovative material compositions are not only researched and cataloged, but are also judged for competitions. This, in turn, serves to inherently push the trend towards advancing material composition science into practical use by making it more accessible to design researchers and practitioners.

With all of this, I see tremendous potential for the architectural discipline as the development of materials evolve at the composition scale because that means that architects will have a greater choice in not only selecting an ideal material, but more will also play a major role in helping materials to develop — thus improving upon how an architect realizes their vision.

In other words, with more choice and say in how a material might need to be composed, you as an architect stand in an ideal position to design more specifically to the needs of your occupants; thus, standing a greater chance of being able to design happier spaces by having greater design insight much earlier in the process.

Surprisingly, as was pointed out in the above mentioned SEED article, materials scientists (like architects) must also delve into issues regarding what makes a user happy — when experiencing and engaging with a certain material. They must qualitate the specifics of what might make a material pleasant to touch, uplifting to see, or even determine what properties of it are sustainable, and how that might be perceived to an end-user.

So as an architect, I urge you to look into what materials scientists are doing. Actively seek what new materials are on the forefront and which commonplace ones are being revamped. You can start by taking a look at the following slide show which presents the consultancy called Material ConneXion — and their very beautiful and unique library of innovative materials that can be accessed for research. The following is the link to the slide show:

Click Here to See the Slide show: The Science Stuff

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what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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