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ArgumentNo. 15/2023

Concept vs. Materiality in Architecture


When we talk about architecture, we think, implicitly, about the dynamics of the relationship between concept and materiality embodied in the formal expression with functional attributes and innovative foundation. Architects today navigate in an area of conceptualization involving not only the design process itself, but rather the deep investigation of the elements of architectural language and the materials associated in a symbolic key. This complex oscillation between abstract ideas and tangible forms of diverse materiality shapes the very culture of the built environment, growing structures that transcend simple functionality to become expressions of the art and culture of the moment.

Inspired by cultural components, sustainability or avant-garde, the concept represents the main guiding element of architectural design, outlining, emphasizing or contextualizing the identity of the building. The conceptual parts are meant to ensure the skillful collaboration and harmonious orchestration of the elements of syntax and architectural language, materiality and light. Thus, the choice of materials becomes natural an articulation of the initial vision, creating a symbiotic relationship of the newly proposed object in the context, meaning to generate a new quality of the built environment - vitality.

Seen from the sustainability perspective, the link between the concept and its materialization acquires a new importance in the design mechanism. Eco-conscious solutions propose materials that, through composition methods and passive or active principles of use, contribute and promote harmony within the environment. Equally, the research due to exploring materiality is expanding, pushing the gravity limit, through formal ingenuity and new materials with increased structural properties, deepening the sensory experience of space. In addition, the tactility, color and texture of the materials become essential elements in the story behind the building, shaping the emotional response of perception. The built ambient space needs today, perhaps more than ever, the association of narrative-concept, creating captivating environments that transcend the everyday turmoil.

The intrinsic relationship created between reality and symbol, be it an architectural object, a built space or any denotative element (Fig. 1), fluctuates over time, like the mechanism of consciousness that determines our actions. When the ratio between them changes, the emotional human response involved, fade. That is why it seems obvious that the future of design as we imagine it today, although reserved for visionary concepts and interdisciplinarity, cannot function independently of achieving a stable balance as a whole, or more, of reaching humanity.


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