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Humble Origins

In Blog by Alex Woogmaster

One of the most overlooked surprises in Design is the strength of common patterns and urban materials. We are trained to layer exotic materials for richness (or to consider sterile surfaces in adherence to today’s streamlined contemporary aesthetics), but we frequently overlook the textural possibilities afforded to us by the most basic building materials. Some of the world’s greatest historic buildings celebrate these humble elements, both for their utilitarian resilience, as well as their… grounded… charm.

Below are some of my favorite applications of basic Brick, Stone, and Glass. All of the designs are simple and feature typical repetitions of a basic industrial unit (eg. a brick), but also empathetic in their ability to bring humility – and add interest – to the most monumental and ornate environments.

Most surprising to me is the way in which these humble components help to make monumental surfaces and spaces feel more relatable and better scaled to us as we encounter them. Looking at Facades like the Cour d’Honneur at Versailles, its clear that some monumental edifices can ennoble ‘common’ materials in return.