5 Exposed Finishes For Your Building Facade

Architecture is a dynamic field where creativity meets functionality. One crucial aspect that defines the aesthetic appeal and structural integrity of a building is the choice of materials. Exposed materials, those intentionally left visible in the final design, play a pivotal role in defining the character of a structure. 

Some types of Exposed Materials You Can Consider for Your Design Projects:

  1. Concrete
  2. Brick
  3. Wood
  4. Metal
  5. Stone

1. Exposed Concrete

Concrete, with its raw and industrial charm, has become a popular choice for exposed surfaces in contemporary architecture. Whether used as poured concrete walls, polished floors, or textured finishes, concrete lends a sense of strength and durability to a structure. Its versatility allows architects to experiment with various forms, textures, and colors, making it a favorite for both residential and commercial projects.

Maintenance: 

  • Sealing: Apply a concrete sealer to protect against moisture, stains, and abrasion.
  • Repair Cracks: Promptly repair any cracks or chips with appropriate concrete patching materials.

TWA Flight Center

Exposed Concrete at TWA Flight Center
Exposed Concrete at TWA Flight Center

Location: John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, USA.

Architect: Eero Saarinen

Material Used: Concrete

Features:

  • The building features sweeping, wing-like concrete shells that create a sense of fluidity and movement.
  • Exposed concrete is used throughout the structure, showcasing the material’s versatility and strength.
  • The interior includes a grand terminal with curved walls and expansive glass, providing a unique spatial experience.

2. Exposed Brick

The timeless appeal of exposed brick has transcended centuries, making it a classic choice for architects seeking a warm, rustic aesthetic. The variation in colors, textures, and patterns allows for endless design possibilities. Exposed brick walls often convey a sense of history and authenticity, contributing to the overall character of a space.

Maintenance: 

  • Repointing: Periodically check and repair mortar joints to prevent water infiltration.
  • Avoid Power Washing: High-pressure washing can erode the surface, so use caution or avoid it.

The Red Brick Warehouse

Exposed Brick at the Red Brick Warehouse
Exposed Brick at the Red Brick Warehouse

Location: Yokohama, Japan.

Architect: Takenaka Corporation (Original architect: R. P. Bridgens)

Material Used: Brick

Features:

  • The exterior of the warehouse features a distinctive red brick facade, showcasing the material’s timeless and enduring appeal.
  • The brickwork is characterized by its uniformity and structural simplicity, reflecting the architectural style of the early 20th century

3. Exposed Wood

Wood brings a natural warmth and richness to architectural design. Exposed wooden beams, columns, or entire structural elements create a connection between the built environment and nature. From the sleek modernity of exposed laminated timber to the traditional charm of reclaimed wood, architects can choose from a wide range of wood types to achieve their desired ambiance.

Maintenance: 

  • UV Protection: Protect exterior wood from sun exposure with UV-resistant finishes.
  • Pest Control: Implement measures to prevent termites and other pests, such as periodic inspections.

Vennesla Library and Culture House

Exposed wood at the Vennesla Library and Culture House
Exposed wood at the Vennesla Library and Culture House

Location: Vennesla, Norway

Architect: Helen & Hard Architects

Material Used: Wood

Features:

  • The building features a distinctive wooden facade made from locally sourced pine.
  • Exposed wooden beams and columns inside create a warm and inviting interior atmosphere.

4. Exposed Metal

The use of exposed metal elements, such as steel beams, can add an industrial and contemporary edge to architectural designs. Metal is not only sturdy but also allows for innovative structural solutions. The reflective surfaces of metals like stainless steel can introduce an element of glamour, while weathered steel develops a unique patina over time, adding character to the building.

Maintenance: 

  • Cleaning: Regularly clean metal surfaces to remove dust, dirt, and pollutants.
  • Rust Prevention: Apply rust-inhibiting coatings or paints to prevent corrosion.

The Louvre Pyramid

Exposed Metal at the Louvre Pyramid
Exposed Metal at the Louvre Pyramid

Location: Paris, France.

Architect: I. M. Pei.

Material Used: Metal (mainly glass and steel).

Features:

  • The pyramid’s frame is primarily composed of steel, with glass panels forming the transparent surfaces.
  • The metal structure contrasts with the classical architecture of the museum, creating a harmonious yet modern focal point.
  • The use of metal reflects Pei’s vision of blending traditional and contemporary elements.

5. Exposed Stone

From the grandeur of marble to the earthiness of slate, exposed stone surfaces convey a sense of timelessness and luxury. Whether used in interior features like accent walls or exterior cladding, stone adds a durable and elegant touch to architectural designs. Each type of stone brings unique textures and colors, allowing architects to create visually striking compositions.

Maintenance:

  • Repair Cracks: Address any cracks or chips promptly with suitable stone repair products.
  • Avoid Acidic Cleaners: Acidic cleaners can damage certain types of stone, so use neutral options.

Sagrada Familia

Exposed Stone at the Sagrada Familia
Exposed Stone at the Sagrada Familia

Location: Barcelona, Spain.

Architect: Antoni Gaudí (initially), continued by various architects.

Material Used: Stone (particularly, various types of stone including granite and limestone).

Features:

  • The use of stone is prominent in the intricate facades, columns, and decorative elements.
  • The stone carvings and sculptures depict religious scenes and natural motifs, showcasing craftsmanship.
  • Gaudí’s innovative use of stone contributes to the church’s unique and awe-inspiring design.

The deliberate use of exposed materials in architecture is an art that combines aesthetics with functionality. The choice of materials not only influences the visual appeal of a structure but also impacts its structural integrity and environmental performance.

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