Architecture is a balance of context, usefulness, and aesthetics. As architects compete around the world to bring remarkable ideas to life certain key features help in defining their ‘iconicity’. Some of the factors include, Strong concept design, relevant historical context and present relevance of its design and need, implied architectural design, attention to and creation of striking details, well-built and pioneering structural design, well execution of the project, and the most important factor is the materials. The concept of building materials commends mainly on two factors, the durability and aesthetics of design. 

The importance of material choices is one of the most influential aspects. From geographical to historical to cultural and political significance, selecting materials for a design with care can help to build and contribute to a healthy and harmonious atmosphere.

The historical significance of material design

Architecture outlives humanity, as evidenced by the survival of ancient civilisations’ settlements, fortified edifices, and a multitude of Heritage treasures. materials play an important role in a building’s longevity, imparting robustness and endurance in construction. This becomes especially critical while considering their long-term effects like the life of a building or its implication on the environment, but also on the nuanced aspects like human experience. The material utilised determines the nature and form of the building in itself. The right materials used using the right techniques can help in creating an ambient atmosphere while having the potential at the same time to create a highly unpleasant living condition as well if the wrong ones are employed. 

What is material design in architecture? - Sheet1
historical importance, case of hagia Sophia_©Arild Vågen

The visual and structural aspects of building materials

Building materials contribute in establishing a link between visual quality and structural stability. This will invariably help in giving the structure a certain visual appeal as well. The type of construction and the age of the building can be easily analysed based on the type of materials used and the technique it incorporates. Overall leads to a combined elevated sense of aesthetics and functionality in the structure.

The importance of material can be further studied in detail based on certain aspects like,

Structural Importance 

The material used to construct a structure denotes its structural existence. It displays the presence of aesthetic sense in a design and hence establishes the structure’s practicability. In the subject of architectural visualisation, the usage of building material(s) in designing a structure is symbolic of its presence. It contributes to the establishment of a link between visual excellence and structural integrity in architecture. An architect’s choice of building material.

Visual Impact 

The building material influences the vision of a structure because it deals with the structure’s appearance-related features. It also influences the structure’s durability. As a result, the quality-quantity ratio of the building material chosen determines the character of the architecture. It also has an impact on the philosophies of simplicity and complexity in architectural design. It has also promoted innovation. Building materials have played a significant role in architectural symbolism. By producing iconic structures throughout the world, they have fundamentally altered the field of architecture.

Historical Value

Architectural symbolism reflects the type of architecture employed concerning the building’s function. It is this feature that describes a structure. It is also a factor that contributes to the conservation and preservation of cultural and historic assets. The type of building material employed in a religious structural design represents the type of architecture.

Constructional Behaviour 

Architecture focuses on construction procedures, which are then based on a design concept or topic. The execution entails the use of various masonry styles to represent various types of architecture, depending on the type of construction techniques used. The materials used in construction have also influenced the nomenclature of historical structures. There was a period when entire constructions were constructed from a single building element. Today, things have progressed to the point where different elements are utilised in various nooks and corners of the same structure.

Materials and Sustainability

Over the last few years, the demand for sustainable building materials has gradually increased. Apart from the environmental benefit, there are various other advantages to adopting these materials; yet, their adoption rate remains low. There is an urgent need to raise awareness about these materials and the benefits they provide since this would motivate the construction sector to use sustainable materials on a wide scale.

Sustainable materials management (SMM) is a systematic strategy to more productively utilise and reuse materials across their entire life cycles. It indicates a shift in how our culture views natural resource utilisation and environmental conservation. An SMM approach tries to:

  • Use materials in the most productive way possible, with an emphasis on utilising less; 
  • Reduce hazardous chemicals and environmental consequences throughout the material life cycle; and 
  • Ensure we have sufficient resources to meet today and future demands.
What is material design in architecture? - Sheet2
importance of sustainability_©Ricardo Gomez Angel


Our society’s usage of materials is critical to our economic and environmental future. Global competition for limited resources will heat up as the world’s population and economies expand. In a resource-constrained future, more productive and less damaging material use helps our society remain economically competitive, adds to our prosperity, and protects the environment.

We can uncover new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources, and lower costs by looking at a product’s whole life cycle—from material extraction to end-of-life management. For example, a product could be redesigned to use an alternative, fewer, less harmful, and more durable materials. It is meant to be easily disassembled at the end of its useful life. The product’s manufacturer maintains a relationship with its customers to ensure proper usage, maintenance, and return at the end of its useful life. This enables the company to identify changing consumer needs, build customer loyalty, and reduce material supply risk.

importance of sustainability_ ©ben allan


US EPA. 2022. Sustainable Materials Management Basics | US EPA. [online] Available at: <https://www.epa.gov/smm/sustainable-materials-management-basics#:~:text=Sustainable%20materials%20management%20(SMM)%20is,natural%20resources%20and%20environmental%20protection.> [Accessed 30 August 2022].

Velazco, N., 2022. The Importance of Using Sustainable Building Materials. [online] Mataverdedecking.com. Available at: <https://www.mataverdedecking.com/blog/the-importance-of-using-sustainable-building-materials> [Accessed 30 August 2022].

Coa.gov.in. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.coa.gov.in/show_img.php?fid=181#:~:text=The%20building%20material%20affects%20the,of%20the%20building%20material%20used.> [Accessed 30 August 2022].


An aspiring designer, she believes architecture plays an innate role in adding nuances to the multi faceted world we live in. When not reading, pondering on how design can shape , or be used to influence human behaviour has become her favourite pastime.

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