Emma Burles


Why does Newcastle University need a materials library?

Materials are the heart of architecture. They define the structure, texture, atmosphere, narrative, environmental impact and longevity of our built environment, to name but a few. Yet, why, in a digital world do we need a materials library? Why is a materials library so critical to students in Architectural education? This year-long research project explored the fundamental role of materials in architectural design, how digital design and performance specification have eroded the relationship between architects and materials, how materials are experienced and understood, and how a useful and meaningful collection of physical material samples can be curated and displayed to enhance architectural education and practice. The project culminated in the detailed design of a materials collection within the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University, and an exhibition which prototyped part of the materials library and demonstrated how thematic curation and a consideration of how materials respond to their environment can create a resource which makes materials more vivid and thought provoking.