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  • Roger Marx

5 Innovative Materials for Architectural Projects

Design sensibilities and best practices are constantly evolving to meet the demands of an increasingly informed and conscientious society. Modern buildings must be sustainable, energy-efficient, and on the cutting edge aesthetically. However, even the best-laid plans cannot come to fruition without the proper products in place. To help in this regard, the following breakdown looks at 5 innovative materials for new and adaptive reuse architecture projects.

1. Glass Partitions

The open interior concept has been all of the rage in design in recent years, and for good reason. Fewer barriers increases the flow of natural light throughout a building, reducing electricity costs associated with artificial lighting. In addition, open spaces enhance the sense of community and collaboration within a space, providing a more uplifting ambience for building patrons.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head and threw a bit of a wrench in this design concept. While the benefits of open interiors remain as pertinent as ever, architects and designers must balance these benefits while also providing separation and socially distanced spaces.

As such, glass curtain walls are one of the best products architects can leverage to capture the best of both worlds. The transparent properties of glass partitions allow the building to maximize the benefits of natural light flow while also guaranteeing separate spaces. In addition, innovative glass partitions are highly customizable, allowing designers to easily transform a building’s interior without the need for time- and resource-consuming renovations.

2. Cooling Bricks

In terms of truly innovative materials, they don’t rank much higher than cooling bricks. Fabricated from a combination of clay and hydrogel, cooling bricks are capable of absorbing up to 500 times their weight in water. The hydrogel then releases this moisture to cool the interior of buildings on hot days. In the correct situation, cooling bricks have the potential to reduce temperatures by as much as 6 degrees Celsius. While they will not completely eliminate all cooling needs on balmy summer days, cooling bricks can significantly reduce HVAC consumption when combined with other heat-mitigating renovations.

3. Architectural Facades

Architectural metal grilles are typically thought of as a solution for parking garages and any other type of structure that needs to be closed-in while still providing ventilation. While they are certainly excellent in this regard, providing aesthetic enhancement for structures that may otherwise appear drab and utilitarian, they are seeing increased interest as a solution for providing a facelift during building adaptations.

The benefits of applying metal grilles and decorative panels to the facade of buildings has more than an aesthetic effect, however. Grilles can help buffer unwanted visuals from floating debris and streetside traffic while also filtering noise and light transfer. This can be especially beneficial in areas of a building that get constant direct exposure to the sun, allowing natural light to flow while mitigating the warming effects of too much direct sunlight.

4. Self Healing Concrete

Concrete is the most prevalent building material in the world. It has a number of benefits that make it a strong choice for a wide array of architectural projects. However, it is also estimated that up to $21 billion is spent each year repairing, rehabilitating, strengthening, and protecting concrete.

Because of this, self-healing concrete has the potential to change the face of the building and design industry. While the best means of mass producing self-healing concrete are still being ironed out, there are two overarching concepts. The first uses a series of induction coils that heats damaged concrete, melts it down, and allows the concrete to reset back to normal. The other concept uses a form of self-regenerative bioconcrete. When the bioconcrete cracks and water is introduced, infused bacteria feed on calcium lactate in the bioconcrete, forming limestone that naturally fills in the cracks.

5. Steel Siding

Although not necessarily a new building material, steel is being fabricated in new and innovative ways to make it a viable option in contemporary architectural projects. The obvious advantage of using steel is that metal building life expectancy is much greater than that of less durable options. With even a modicum of care, it should last as long as you need it and still be in great shape to be repurposed for a second life, making it one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. In addition, insulated steel, combined with the material’s natural reflective properties, can help make some of the most energy-efficient buildings on the planet.

Architectural Projects Thrive with Innovative Materials

Building and design is one of the most adaptive, constantly evolving fields in the world. To stay up with the times, it is critical to have the proper materials in place to execute the latest concepts. With this in mind, glass partitions, cooling bricks, architectural facades, self-healing concrete, and steel siding are 5 of the most innovative materials you can choose for modern architectural projects.

Roger Marx is a contributor to the Innovative Building Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and home renovation. Roger is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value and improve sustainability.

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