Context, functionality, and aesthetics play a crucial role in architecture with one of the most influential aspects being the value of material choices. Aquin Noel, Principal Architect & CEO, Aquin Noel Design Commune

For most buildings, the key features defining their ‘iconicity’ can be summarized as strong concept design, relevant historical context, the present relevance of the design and need, implied architectural design, creating striking details, a well-built and pioneering structural design, well-executed project, and somewhere between these heavy terminologies, there is thoughtful materiality.

The Value of Material Choices

One of the most influential aspects of these ideas is the value of material choices. Whether it is geographical, historical, cultural, or political relevance, carefully selecting materials for a design can help create a healthy and harmonious environment. The architecture of ancient civilizations has outlived humanity through their surviving cities, buildings, and a multitude of cultural heritage sites. Materials that are stapled in our projects are Sand, Steel, Cement, Wood, and Concrete.

Foam concrete: This is much lighter than conventional concrete and it fills heavier volumes with a much lighter weight. As it is mostly mortar with minimal micro aggregate, the self-weight of the concrete is less. The foaming agent allows the concrete to flow and fill into the formwork. In mass housing projects, where the wall needs to serve very little load-bearing, foam concrete is poured in for walls where instead of brick, the blockwork formwork and pour method is followed and is a large time-saver and gives a good finish on the surface. In conventional constructions, foam concrete helps in filing pines and sunken slabs as a substitute for conventional debris being filled, helping in reducing the structural dead load and also saving on curing time. However, the chemical mix proportions are to be carefully monitored.
Aquin Noel, Principal Architect & CEO, Aquin Noel Design Commune
Whether it is geographical, historical, cultural, or political relevance, carefully selecting materials for a design can help create a healthy and harmonious environment.

Ar. Aquin Noel

Porotherm blocks: These large-sized blocks are made from natural clay, coal ash, rice husk, and granite slurry. Porotherm is desired for its thermal insulation characteristics. In building projects, these blocks, which are mostly green-rated products, help in minimizing the temperature, and the hollow structure of these blocks helps in reducing the heat gain in indoor spaces. Also, the structure of the block with perforation helps it to take more load gain and gives an aesthetic appeal in comparison to the hollow blocks, and Aerocon blocks. In projects like resorts and community spaces where an exposed brick finish is preferred, these blocks perform well even whilst unrendered.

Double glazing: In-office buildings and corporate buildings which mostly happen to be high-rise, the double glazing comes as a time saver. The material not only solves façade aesthetics but also minimizes walls. The double glazing is the modern cavity wall that helps in temperature control although the major portion of the building is exposed to the sun. The transparency fills the interiors with ample daylight and better indoor temperature which is a major saver in office overheads. Compared to the conventional single glazing, double glazing serves much better acoustically and is therefore a preferred choice in office projects.

The Value of Material Choices

Filler slabs: Although not a material, the filler slab technique can be considered a well-performing method. Although the key component is regular concrete steel, the incorporation of literally anything that could save concrete on non-functional concrete portions helps not only to reduce the cost of construction and usage of materials but also helps in designing environment-friendly ways. The fillers can have a wide range of components right from clay pottery to electronic wastes, and F&B packing wastes that help us in finding solutions to use the non-biodegradable plastic.

Gypsum plaster: As an alternative to conventional cement plaster, the gypsum plastering takes hassle-free application and gives instant surface finishes. Also saves on time and resources spent on water curing and application. Although not effective on exteriors, application of the gypsum plaster in the interiors is effective in ease of application, fire resistance, ready availability, and much smoother finishes saving on wall putty process and greatly saves construction cost and time.

Plastic dump for filing: Large volume projects have a larger area of ground coverage. For example, factories, college buildings, theaters, etc cover a larger plinth area, and the filling of these plinths results in dead ground cover. A mixture of non-biodegradable plastic waste into this huge storage volume periodically, alongside gravel and compacting, helps us utilize the dead volume plastic dumps, thereby helping to evacuate the plastic dump yards that are an environmental hazard.