Materiality (architecture)

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Materiality in architecture is the concept of, or applied use of, various materials or substances in the medium of building.

Material is a relative term in architectural design and so may be used to designate materials which are considered to be virtual, (such as photographs, images or text) or other materials which are natural. Some materials may be considered as combinations of the two. Certain veneers which are composed of images printed on plastic are a good example of this. Observationally therefore, virtual materials can be said not to exist without a natural physical substrate. Therefore, what separates a virtual material from a natural one is some aspect of the mind and perception as well as a process of representation to produce them.

Indeed, materiality in architecture is not limited to theoretical positions on the perceived materiality of images, texts, or other objects of representation. It may refer to the materiality of specific projects, where one would need to consider the full range of materials used. Discussions on the materiality of architecture are usually synonymous with structural and aesthetic concerns in architectural design and are typically unique with each project.


  • Medway, P. (1996). "Virtual and Material Buildings: Construction and Constructivism in Architecture". Written Communication 13(4):473-514 [1]
  • Macarthur, J. (2002). "The Image As an Architectural Material". The South Atlantic Quarterly 101(3) [2][3]
  • Rübel, D., Wagner, M., Wolff, V. (2005). "Materialästhetik. Quellentexte zu Kunst, Design und Architektur", Berlin [4]
  • Hill, J. (2006). "Drawing Forth Immaterial Architecture". Architectural Research Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, 10:51-55
  • Zarzycki, A. (2006). "Light, materiality and narrative: beyond form-making in architecture". SESSION, Boston, Massachusetts, Article No. 20 [5]

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