Modern materials as palette in residential architecture
Too much is overpowering just as not enough is uninspiring.
Steel, glass and concrete can be successfully blended with natural materials to make a statement of organic modernity, if they are architecturally blended like the contrasting paints of an artist’s palette.
Metals in structure and coverings can be used to add excitement, and style. But this must be done in a critical relationship with design and counter-posed against softer, warmer materials that anchor the form to the immediate environment.
Innately Industrial Materials
The American minimalist artist Richard Serra is well known for his juxtaposition of iron plates and park spaces in ways that are jarring and yet inspired. An iron plate left to rust in a forest has both a disconcerting dissonance and an organic flow that architects intuitively find satisfying.
The object becomes a process in the context of a space. One need not go to the extremes of a Serra sculpture installation to make metals into decorative and structural materials for a modern home.
Corrosion As Inspiration
Metals in combination with glass and concrete do not necessarily have to be heartless. These materials can provide the volume and space that opens a home to the world. It is the role of the architect to find the balance that reflects the humanity of the lives lived within such a home. It can be done and done well.
The patina of a steel panel might be fascinating as it lightens and reddens over decades. The strength of metal alloys also has a great use in structural forms. The high ceiling of an open plan design can create a large volume interior space, where metal and concrete supports stand back and facilitate an open volume, enclosed by walls of glass.
The Organic Palette Resolves Visual Dissonance
The matching of glass and steel with wood and stone can create interest and features that are much more lively than they would be on their own.
The process of oxidation changes the features of a building, much like the matching of geometric lines in a contemporary home with a well placed mature jacaranda tree that flowers with the seasons. In this way, a clever use of materials can speak about the flow of time as well as the rhythms and cycles of the seasons.
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