Materials We Love
What other material can give more delight and warmth, particularly on a cold rainy west coast day? Each piece is unique and when cut, frozen in time. Is a sustainable material, being locally used and with the capability to capture carbon. It can be reused and its character can improve with time. It is a traditional material in its many forms, with a long history of use and a source of livelihood and the creation of community here on the Pacific west coast. It is resistant to earthquake damage due to its high flexibility and low mass. Technology and innovation is providing new means of architectural expression and structural strength to increase use where concrete and steel were the only options.
An amazing and magical material that is solid, yet strangely transparent and ethereal. Created from the most abundant material on earth, silica. It can be colourless and virtually invisible, yet refract, reflect, and transmit visible light. Without light, architecture is practically non existent. It has a long history in architecture and with innovation, has produced many iconic buildings. As humans, of all our senses, we are visually biased, and glass enables our indoor spaces to be filled with daylight and views that are important to our well being. Living in the Pacific west coast, glass provides that connection to nature, yet protects and gives us comfort from environmental extremes.
Permanence and durability. In the Pacific west coast, it is all around us, exposed and hidden. It is even known to move due as the tectonic plates below us collide or release pressure. It is one of the most primitive of all materials. A beautiful stone wall, can provide delight over many generations.
Materials that Improve with Time
With proper detailing some materials allow a building to improve with time. Examples include the brass door handle made shiny where touched repeatedly, the scarred wood floor underfoot due to industrial use, the stone stair tread worn down from passing feet, the patina copper rain chain turning green from falling rain, and the weathering of plaster walls. All tell a story about the environment, the building, and its inhabitants/ creators. Why is it that many old things are more valued than new? For us it is the passage of time and the memories and emotions attached to such materials that has often given them that worn appeal that is missing in new materials.
Materials that are void of fakery and excessive finishes. Ones that express their structural purpose and assembly with simplicity and efficiency (tectonics). So many modern materials try to incorporate the qualities of other materials which they don't have, yet sanitize the qualities of the original materials which they try to replicate.
Materials that are environmentally sensitive to the planet in the production, manufacture, transport, and end of use. Ones that take less energy, non toxic, fewer emissions. Ones that are more durable, reusable, or recyclable. Once of the reasons we prefer to work with timber.