One of the popular questions people raise is whether architecture is all about aesthetics. The answer is no but considered to be one of the principles of design. Architectural aesthetics are lit up by form, colour, texture, and composition. The material is one of the key elements for architects to achieve these qualities in the design. Every architect should understand the impact and importance of materials in architecture. An architect must understand the properties, applications, and uses of building materials. Nowadays, there are a lot of new materials in the market which are available for architects and designers. As a result, architects must expose to the materials. This extensive knowledge about the material helps them in their design process. Here I mentioned the importance of material knowledge for architects and how it impacts the architectural design process.

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Choosing Architectural Materials _©

For Better Selection of Appropriate Materials

By varying the building materials, we can create a different atmosphere. Material is a tool for conveying architectural tales in the building, but it depends upon the selection of the right material for the built form. The decision of material strengthening supports the design concept. If we want to be well versed in material choices, it is more important to know about the character of each material and how it affects the building. Selection of Materials is an essential aspect in deciding many choices in the design process on the form, scale, colour and texture, construction, cost, installation, and finishing.

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Tucson Mountain Retreat _©Photograph by Jeff Goldberg/Esto.

In the case of context, if we design for the hot climate context, unfriendly materials to the context lead to less comfort for the user. The project Tucson Mountain Retreat by the architecture firm DUST, set in the Sonoran Desert, is an example of its material choices according to context as one of the aspects of the design concept. The choice of material depends not only on the context but also on its durability and visual nature of it. Since materials play a very important role in imparting robustness and longevity in construction, it is crucial to consider their long-term effects on not just the environment but also those who inhabit it.

Visual expression through materials in built form

“Good architecture is not just about primary functions. You must also take into account secondary and tertiary functions, and even beyond that. A space is never about one thing. It is a place for many senses: sight, sound, touch, and the unaccountable things that happen in between.”  – Tadao Ando (in Auping et al 2002)

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Church of light_©flickr.

The material is a core element to achieve aesthetics in the design. The material tends to change the physical visualization of the built form. The architecture design elements include Colour, Line, Shape, Mass, Space and Texture among them Materials are important elements for conveying the visual quality in design. The tactile and visual properties of materials impact the building’s aesthetics. Creating the desired effect is achieved by the colour and texture properties. Architects obtain a better understanding of the aesthetic qualities of materials by knowing their underlying characteristics. Architecture is a constant visual narrative medium.

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Minimalist workspace_©Dezeen.

The material tends to alter the space according to its functionality. For example, the office area needs a lighter and minimal space; By employing minimal design architects must understand the tactile and visual attributes of the materials. Using the finer and graining help to make the space look formal. These kinds of understanding about materials transform the spaces according to their design needs. Today various material is available online about the material properties and a few details about the visual and aesthetics of the material. 

Material acts as a catalyst for Conveying Architecture

The material is the skin of the built form and material tends to transform the built environment. A strong understanding of materials can help an architect decide on them for structural development and create connections between various elements. The purpose of the material is not only in the aesthetics of the building; it also enhances the built environment. Architects use these tools to engage occupants with the built form. The driving force in the design process is based on ideas like context, inspiration, and user experiences. One of the most basic and accessible means of conveying this idea is through the use of materials. It leads them to tell a story through the materials in the design.

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Hotel Lobby _©Courtesy of Four Seasons New York.

The architects have a visualisation in their mind that they reflect on in the design. The materials used by the architect may represent a certain ambience that the architect had in mind – like a “luxury” feeling for a star hotel lobby or a “minimalism” in an office space.

Create a sensorial experience in design

“In order to design buildings with a sensuous connection to life, one must think in a way that goes far beyond form and construction.”       – quote from Peter Zumthor

The architect always creates a functional and aesthetic rhythm throughout the design. One of the principal aspects considered in architecture is the experience it gives to the user. More importantly, building projects are not only about meeting technical requirements; the sensory behaviour of the user also plays a major role while designing. Each material has unique features and creates a different experience for the user. Sometimes a material has one or more properties. The relationship between a user and the built environment may be deepened via the application of sensory architecture. With this approach, the impact of architecture on the occupants can be better tuned through sensory design for a healthier mind and body. Architects should consider the perception and sensorial experience of materials while choosing the material.

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Bruder Klaus Field Chapel _©Archdaily.

For example, The Bruder Klaus Field Chapel by Peter Zumthor is recognised for its remarkable appreciation of the materials used to create the sensual space. A hard-rectangular concrete exterior hides a magical inside and triggers our emotions to go inside. On the inside, it is a pure reflection of sensuous nature. This remarkable architecture is an example of how to give beautiful respect to the materials.



lexter (n.d.). Materiality and Architecture. [online] Available at:


As a budding architect with Inquisitive eyes on architecture, she loves to construct those understanding into words. She feels that architecture allows one to perceive the world through new eyes together with understanding the language of art.