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What materials age Beautifully? Here are my top 6 picks.

A very important factor of the architect practice is that the building is there to stay... well in most cases...

So how will the material age in the environment you are building in? How will it be in 5 years, 10 years... 50 years?

Unfortunately this factor is often neglected... we spend all our time understanding how the building will be used and how it should look in terms of volume... that external factors like weather get forgotten.

But this is very important for the building to grow in beauty over time.

This is one of the factors that separates good architecture from great.

Here are 6 good picks... hope this helps in making a decision for your design or your future home.

Stone or Limestone / Steinn eða Kalksteinn

Img1: The Icelandic parliament build in 1880, The other img: The Glade house by DLM Architects

One of the most beautiful materials, used for ages, is stone. It tells a story of what was and what has been. Stone buildings have survived centuries and are ever so beautiful and they magnificently present themselves as dominant structures.

This versatile material can not only be used as a solid structure, masonry construction, but also as a thin stone facade systems that equally create a magnificent building front.


Kalksteinn er ekki mikið notaður á íslandi margs konar steinn er og var mikið notað.

Teak / Teak viður (Icelandic)

The Salk Institute by Louis Kahn

Teak wood silvers with age and requires little to no maintenance (as does most timber high in tannic acid). This wood is beautiful with concrete in time it will become more alike in colour but with the soft texture of the wood combined with the rough texture of the untreated concrete.

Besides buildings, teak wood is mainly used for building boats and outdoor furnitures as it is highly resistant to rot and unlike other timber it has a very low shrinkage ratio.

Pine / Fura (in Icelandic)

The Pobble House by Guy Hollaway Architects / pictures by © Charles Hosea

Pine (Fura in Icelandic) is another wood that gains a gray-blueish shreen over time. The uncoated surface ages beautifully over time when exposed to the elements, but you can also affect the amount of silvering by applying pigmented coats of oils to make the timber more UV-resistant. This graceful wood is popular in rural projects and projects in touch with nature whereas it creates a visual connection to the surrounding natural landscape. This wood is very popular in Iceland.


CorTen Steel House By Faulkner Architects in California, United States. Photos: Joe Fletcher

Corten is one of my favorite... maybe not as a whole building but for sure as a part of a building that keeps changing with time...

While other metals used in construction are designed to resist corrosion, Corten invites rust to form on its surface. The rust itself forms a film which covers the surface and forms a protective layer. You don't need to treat it and you certainly don't paint it: it's all about making rusty steel look attractive.

When it's new construction, it looks just like you would expect a sheet of steel to look, all black and shiny. Most common progress is that first it turns yellowish, which tones down to orange and after some years it has all become gorgeous dark-brown purple colour but the final colour depends on weather can vary from orange, red, brown blue or black.

Corten can last for centuries but it does not like sea salt as it eats through the congealed rust layer... Good to keep in mind.

The building is beautifully, passively changing with time.

Zinc / Sink (Icelandic)

I love Zinc as well.... Zinc is ever so hype in popularity because of increasing demand for eco friendly products. Zinc is most commonly used for roofing as well as zinc panels.

Perhaps zinc's best known benefit is its ability to keep away from corrosion because of its thin coat of patina it develops covering the material and protecting it from the elements. Another thing this patina does is that it repairs it self. Zing is an organic product that is alive and can repair its scratches and other imperfections, but Zinc is not silk straight and smooth facade cladding like aluminum or other alternatives.

Zinc is great for eco-friendly construction because it requires less energy for production than other metals such as aluminum and copper, due to its lower melting point and also Zinc is recyclable, since it can be produced from recycled materials taken from demolished or re-roofed structures.

Copper and Bronze / Kopar og Brons (Icelandic)

Copper is the famous green metal that becomes more and more beautiful with time...

It can take everything from 5 years in an industrial are up to 30 years in a clean environment for the patina to develop. The light green weathering is caused by copper carbonate and copper sulphate forming in connection to oxygen in the air, creating a protective layer.

Bonze similarly oxides to form a protective green patina but with strong brown bronze colour undertones.

Important to keep in mind when choosing a material is to take into account the local weather and the local materials. Sustainable material is only so sustainable if it is not destroying rainforests or being shipped across the world.

Also these materials are not the cheapest once but when making a housing budget - renovation cost and durability has to be taken into account and in the long run these materials will always require less maintenance and get even more beautiful with time.

2 comentários

28 de mai. de 2018

Thank you Rachael. Happy to hear you enjoy reading my blog. ;)


Rachael Berthiaume
Rachael Berthiaume
06 de abr. de 2018

Wow what an interesting post! And I loved the pictures you used, I know nothing about architecture, but this was awesome!

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