Some designers apply conventional materials, but others gather unconventional materials to represent forms, function, and place. Knowing this, we would like to introduce ten unusual materials used in architecture and some projects who have applied these techniques. 

Materials play a fundamental role in the design of architectural projects. Its principal reason is that materials embody the manner how the occupant perceives the space. For that reason, designers look to reinforce the architectural atmosphere with the use of creative techniques and materials. Some designers apply conventional materials, but others gather unconventional materials to represent forms, function, and place. Knowing this, we would like to introduce ten unusual materials used in architecture and some projects who have applied these techniques. 

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1. Can Façade  

Probably, detecting this material might be quite difficult, but how Archi- Union architect has incorporated the Office building’s façade has demonstrated an ingenuine application of reused materials. Some have defined this building as the “Can Cube,” and it has been highly recognized for the Recycling metals, which might be quite unusual. This new application of cans demonstrates a creative design that also operates as an adjustable mediator of the building’s sun. For more information on one of the inventions of Archi-Union Architects, please visit:

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Facades Details and Porosity of the Surface; Source: ©InHabitat
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“Can Building”; Source: ©Archdaily

2. Mycelium 

Mycelium is a natural material that contains the compressed structures of fungus. The organic component grows its root-like fibers around organic and not organic materials. The natural fungi’s growth strengthens the material, and in fact, it reinforces its resistance to fire, water, and mold. The application of these ideas into a microscale is already applied to products of contemporary industries as Ikea. In addition, one of the benefits of this material is the reduction of the construction industry waste. To learn more about this material, please visit:

Natural Materials Adhered to Molds or Forms; Source: ©In Habitat.

3. Plastic Façade  

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Incorporating new materials to the industry represents recycling preexisting material, such as can, glass, and even plastic. The material that we are going to talk about looks to recycle plastic and reduce its waste. Consequently, plastic has been incorporated into building facades and creates a passive solar shelter for architecture. The contemporary architecture integrates recycled material to benefit the building’s exteriors and, in this case, buildings interiors. One example of this material is one of the plastic facades designed by Hyunke Joo. To read more about this project, please access this link:

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Plastic Façade; Source: ©Web Urbanist.
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Façade’s details; Source: ©Web Urbanist.

4. Recycled Concrete  

The material has been a great supporter of sustainable construction, and its composition is approximated to a ninety percent of construction waste. The primary purpose of recycled concrete is to exponentially reduce the environmental impact of construction and its long-term consequences. By manufacturing, recycling concrete reduces the energy consumption and the economic impact in the construction industry. In Addition, one of the companies that researched recycling concrete manufacturing is Koneteq. To keep reading about the material innovations, please access:

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Recycled Concrete; Sources: ©Specify Concrete.
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Koneteq’s Innovations; Source: ©Dezeen.

5. Recycled Plastic Bricks

The brick has been implied in different forms into the construction industry. One of the last advances has been the fabrication of a brick containing approximately one kilogram of recycled kilograms. The fabrication of these new forms of materials has shown a lighter brick compared to the preexisting forms of brick. Another quality of this presentation is its performance; it is one of the best insulating materials and has excellent performance as sound-proofing material. Consequently, by applying this technique, around three hundred million tons of produced plastic is exponentially reduced. For more information about recycled plastic bricks, please visit:

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Prefabricated Bricks; Source: ©Design Wanted
Recycled Plastic Bricks- Sheet2
Properties Like Ceramic Bricks; Source: ©Material District.

6. Salt  

Who would have thought that salt could be printed? Using salt as a printing material is one of the big experiments with large-scale materials. One of the mineral’s positive qualities is its minimal economic impact of manufacturing, and it is a renewable natural resource. The unit of production is in panels, and two of the material qualities are its porosity and its natural translucency surface. For more information, please click the following link:

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Salt Objects; Source: ©Dezeen.
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Salt Structures; Source: ©Archdaily.

7. Sea Stone  

The idea of utilizing seashells emerges from the need to be recycled and reutilized. These natural sources are used to elaborate economically and environmentally sustainable materials. The Sea Stone material could be elaborated manually, and the way it works is by grinding down shells to create the Sea Stone Material. As a result, this technique has reduced seashells’ water in a significant way and has the same resistance as concrete. For more information, please visit:

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Origin of Seashells; Source: ©Texas Co-op Power.
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Sea Stone; Source: ©Dezeen.

8. Silk 

One of nature’s wonders is organic products with high resistance; one example of this statement is spider silk. The fascination with the natural product is that this material’s resistance is more vital than steel compared to its scale. The research of this material has innovated the perception products created from nature. For this reason, MIT Media lab has research on the spider silk qualities, such as being a flexible material. To read more exciting findings of the research, please click this link:

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Silk Pavilion; Source: ©ArchDaily.
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Materials Qualities; Source: ©Core 77

9. Sweating Rooftops 

The material is the product of research conducted by ETH-Zurich, and its main objective is to achieve the roof’s perspiration. The inspiration and guideline of performance was human’s perspiration as a cooling mediator. In addition, the system works in a way that the rooftop membranes absorb rainwater. The technology implied in the roofing represents a mechanism of thermal control and sustainable solutions to construction. For more information, please visit:

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Perspiration and Architectural materials; Source: ©Architizer.
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Detailing Materials; Source: ©Inhabitat.

10. 3-Dimensional Printing 

The technological advances have allowed the construction industry to find new materials that could be 3-Dimensional printed. Researchers have created visual interest in studying diverse materials, such as nylon, acrylic, wood, and paper, by experimenting. Simultaneously, by experimenting with materials, it has brought up a new sustainable solution for industrial waste. Students from the University of Tokyo have researched on creating devices to produce acrylic structures. As a result, they have created acrylic sculptural systems from technological innovations. For more information about the innovation and materials utilized for 3-dimensional printing, please visit:

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3-D Printing and Acrylic; Source: ©Slideshow.
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Wood and Its Practicality; Source: ©Sculpteo.

Andreina Sojo comes from Caracas, Venezuela. Seeking for higher education, Andreina studied in Broward College, Florida, and Seville, Spain as a recipient of the William E. Green Scholarship. Andreina graduated with honors, and she transferred to the University of Florida to complete her Bachelor's in Architecture and Minor in Landscape Architecture.

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