On concrete materiality in architecture.
In this reading, a particular idea stood out to me. This idea was that a material should be treated as what it is and not be made to look like something which it is not. The materials should also be applied in the appropriate manners. For example, wood should be used in a way which is fitting to it as a material. Likewise for metal and stone. The point being made was that you should not simply take one set of rules which work for one material and apply them to another. You cannot build with stone in the same way that you can with timber for example.
That idea comfortably covered the approach of material individuality within the primary structure of a building. However, whereas some of this may seem obvious (at least now), it was the facade ideas which took hold of me more. Over the course of this year, I have increasingly reflected more upon how materials matter. They are not simply there to achieve a shape or a structure, they can be used to far greater effect that this.
Through careful consideration of materials, a whole space can be altered. Materials possess significant power over atmosphere, arguably more so than shape and form in some cases. A good architect will be very clear and specific over exactly what material is used where and in what combinations (if any). Concrete is an ideal example of this, being a very versatile material it is often badly labelled as being responsible for ugly towers of carparks, but it is capable of so much more. It is simply that the car parks have used the concrete in one way, and that Peter Zumthor's Bruder Klaus Field Chapel uses it in another.
I use the example by Peter Zumthor as a potential like of contrast and controversy. I say this because the resulting building that has come from the clever design largely contradicts the aforementioned approaches to materials appearing only as themselves. The interior of the chapel is cast to resemble the timber that was once inside it (before being burnt away). The end product is a beautiful space and an amazing result. So should materials really display only their own properties? Or should a material as versatile as concrete be allowed to combine with others?
Personally I am a very big fan honesty in architecture. I like to see something real, without fake purposes or hidden ulterior motives. I appreciate everything having a true reason for being there. However I do not discard the use of materials in the way that Zumthor has used them in the Chapel. Combinations can be beautiful, so long as there is meaning to provide purpose.