In our series Architectural means we’re trying to find answers to the questions: Which architectural means do we have to create specific atmospheres that can elicit specific emotions? In this post we’ll talk about the aspect Expression of material as one of the architectural mean we have to create specific architectural atmospheres.

Expression of material

Impressions of hardness and softness, of heaviness and lightness, are connected with the surface character of materials. The horizontal balconies and terraces of Frank Lloyd Wright house “Falling Water” are in big contrast with the vertical elements. The light coloured smooth surfaces of the concrete balconies seem much lighter then the rough stone surfaces of the vertical elements.

Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright
Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright


Expression of material
Impressions of hardness and softness, of heaviness and lightness, are connected with the surface character of materials.

e.g.
–  rough stone (heavy) vs. smooth white concrete cantilevers (light)

“Heavy granite column stands directly on the lighter paving material, shattering the pattern of the brick paving.”
– RASMUSSEN, S.E. (1965) Experiencing Architecture (1)

A building can be made to appear heavier than it actually is, and it can also be made to appear lighter than it is.

The upper part of the Doge Palace in Venice, for example, appears light altough it is solid. This is achieved by the use of light colours in a checkered pattern.

Another good example of material expression is a clinker paved colonnade in Copenhagen. The heavy granite column seems to sink into the softer clinkers, because of the expression of the material and it also chips of the pattern of the clinkers.

Doge Palace, Venice, Italy
Clinker paved colonnade in Copenhagen

Appearance
A building can be made to appear heavier than it actually is, and it can also be made to appear lighter than it is. This can be achieved with material expression, patterns, form (Architectural means – Expression of form) and colour (future post on Architectural means – Colour).

What do you think?

We’re always interested your ideas. If you have any comments, questions or ideas – please let us know!

References

  1. RASMUSSEN, S. E. (1962) Experiencing Architecture, 2nd Edition

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