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Thinking about which materials to use on your home’s exterior can be a daunting task.  Considering your home within its environment and context can be a great starting point, and can help give your home a sense of belonging and harmony.

Natural Context

The first step is to consider the natural context.  What is the predominant pallet of your environment? In a non-urban setting, cues can be taken from nature. In a forest for example, timber may be appropriate. On the coast, perhaps limestone or sandstone. Rammed earth can be an excellent option to tie your project to its context. There are many great examples where the earth of the site has been used for the home to create a strong connection to its place.

Built Context

In cities, context can be a lot more complex. In suburbs with an overwhelming character it may be appropriate to make reference to some of these materials. Examples include limestone in Fremantle, red bricks for Subiaco, or white render in City Beach. In heritage areas, the key to this approach is to utilise these materials in a contemporary way. In this sense, clean lines and modern detailing can combine the best of both modern design and a local connection.

“If you want to create a statement, it is important to know the rules before you seek to break them.” - Kris Mainstone, Director, Maine Architecture.

Consider Aging over Time

Modernist architecture was known for its use of white render. An issue with this approach is the building usually never looks as good as the day it was completed. However, some materials are like a good bottle of wine...

“Some materials grow better with age, and allowing these materials to develop a patina can create a great sense of permanence.” - Kris Mainstone, Director, Maine Architecture.

Copper, corten iron, and stone are all examples of these well-aging materials. When considering these, be careful of areas that will receive uneven amounts of sun and weather; the key is for the material to age the same. Natural timber is another example, but it’s difficult to master. The key issue is maintenance. New heat treated or composites are reducing maintenance, but often with an added expense. Embracing a little bit of a weathered look is a great alternative.

The points listed above are just a small start on the complex world of architectural materials used to create a sense of harmony. In some instances, it may be possible to do something a little more interesting, and statement-worthy. For more architectural advice visit Maine Architecture.