What is modern building material?

Modern materials of building construction are termed are materials which may be:

  1. A recent formulation.
  2. A material which had existed but its application is recent.

What are cladding materials?

Modern cladding materials include accessories and finishes. These materials are used in buildings to design the external features- facades, floors, roofs etc.

Cladding materials are important for the building. These are the materials the user of the building comes in physical contact with. These are several occupations for these materials. They not only fulfil the primary purpose of covering the structural skeleton, but also needs to answer for:

  1. Protection.
  2. Sustainability.
  3. Functional Purpose.
  4. Durability.
  5. Aesthetics.
  6. Easy maintenance.

Material responsiveness

A straight definition might be any material which adapts to the needs of the situation.

Along with the race of technology building materials have always continued to adapt themselves to the increasing demand in function, sustainability and variety. Not only this, they have also resolved to provide a long term cost effective service.

It is known that the architecture of a building can transform a simple building into one growing beyond imagination and expectations. With a little touch of technology and its incredible application in design, a building stops from being just a building. It becomes interactive and material responsive to changes in its environment by adaptations either quickly or over the time. These changes might be natural or man-made.


Material responsiveness might often not be like I describe in the paragraph above. Sometimes it is often needed that material fulfils certain desired characteristics in order to be used, Example-light weight, energy efficient. Therefore materials developed in order to answer for light weight and energy efficiency  is also considered as material responsiveness.

The following few examples will serve to make clear the term.

  1. ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene):

ETFE Cushion Cladding
ETFE Cushion Cladding
Eden project - Biomes made of ETFE Cushions
Eden project – Biomes made of ETFE Cushions

ETFE is a fluorine-based polymer. ETFE foil is being used in the architectural industry as a replacement for glass and fibres  and polymers. It is used a cladding material on the roofs and external wall. It is prone to puncture by sharp edges hence mostly used in roofs. ETFE is available in foils or cushions.The air is blown into the cushion which is measured and fitted onto the structural work.

It is suitable for biomes as it acts as a greenhouse trapping heat within.

Its properties include:

  1. High strength,
  2. Temperature resistant,
  3. Resistant to ultraviolet light.
  4. Resistant to chemicals.
  5. 100% recyclable, hence sustainable and eco friendly.
  6. Translucent, 95% of light transmission.
  7. Highly tensile – can stretch up to 3 times its original length.
  8. ETFE weighs around 1% of the same amount of glazing, thereby reducing form-work.
  9. Easy to maintain as its surface is hydrophobic.
  10. Easily repairable, patches can be pasted and joined by heat welding to form a continuous repaired layer.


  1. Smart wrap:

Smart wrap-building exterior
Smart wrap-building exterior
Smart Wrap- polymer surface
Smart Wrap- polymer surface

It is a plastic surface laminated with photovoltaic cells, which can be wrapped around the structural frame of the building. The cellophane wrapping looks like it has an abstract print of random polygons.

It is a building envelope whose perks include:

  1. Energy generation, through photovoltaic cells that gather mass solar energy from the sun.
  2. Interior lightening, through organic LED lightening.
  3. Controlling climate, through phase change moderators.
  4. Information display, through organic LED lightening.
  5. All of it is printed onto a single PET substrate which is not expensive and provides high mechanical strength.
  6. Lightweight- Hence low transportation cost, ease to assemble and dissemble.
  7. Recyclable.


  1. Electrochromic glass:

Electrochromic Glass- interior applications
Electrochromic Glass- interior applications
Electrochromic Glass showing various levels of tranlusency.
Electrochromic Glass showing various levels of tranlusency.

Electrochromic glass is a smart glass which allows desired variation in the light transmission properties, that is, it changes its opacity, from highly translucent to transparent. It generally works on electricity. On applying a small voltage the glass changes to opaque starting from the edges proceeding towards the center. Once opaque, one does not need to keep it electrically charged.

There are reflective glasses which switch states from mirror-like to transparent.

Perks include:

  1. Eliminates the need of opaque brick walls- you can have an opaque wall whenever you want, and a transparent one the next moment.
  2. Controlled translucency allows desired amount lighting and thermal heating.
  3. Used in indoors to maintain privacy and visibility at ones choice.


  1. Ultra lite stone:

Ultra lite Stone- exploded view 1)Stone-thickness 5 to 7 mm. 2)Structural resin, 0.5 mm thick. 3)aluminium honeycomb, 5 to 300 mm. 4)Fiber glass skin, epoxy impregnated.
Ultra lite Stone- exploded view 1)Stone-thickness 5 to 7 mm. 2)Structural resin, 0.5 mm thick. 3)Aluminium honeycomb, 5 to 300 mm. 4)Fibre glass skin, epoxy impregnated.

Ultra lite stone is a replacement for stone cladding as it has some advantages over the problems faced in stonework. Ultra lite stone has aluminium honeycomb reinforcements underneath the slab of pure stone, which may be marble, granite or limestone.

This reinforcements makes it:

  1. Lightweight as honey comb structured aluminium weighs lighter than stone of same volume.
  2. Costs lesser than stone of same volume.
  3. Fiber reinforced epoxy skin makes it waterproof.
  4. Flexure panels can be used in seismic locations.
  5. Less brittle, 3 times resistance against impact, compared to normal stone.

It can be used for flooring and tiling works instead of stone.


  1. Lotusan paint:

1) Lotusan surface action on water and dirt. 2) Normal wall action on water and dirt 3) A Lotuan surface wall
1) Lotusan surface action on water and dirt. 2) Normal wall action on water and dirt 3) A Lotuan surface wall

It is a self cleaning silicon paint. It increases the durability of the building and maintains a proper exterior look for a longer time.

The idea of Lotusan paint is inspired from the lotus. Lotus, it is seen though grows in dirty circumstances, its surface never does succumb to the dirt. It is because of a super hydrophobic surface. The rough micro-structured topography of its surface reduces adhesive forces on the water molecules. This is because trapped air within the rough crevices reduces solid and liquid contact area.

The same technology is mimicked by Lotusan Paint. The painted surface developes micro peaks and valleys which causes less adhesion to water. Dirt which accumulates gets adhered to water and this water literally slips away from the surface along with the dirt.

Advantages include:

  1. Resistant to mould.
  2. Damp  proof.
  3. Algae growth is prohibited.
  4. Dirt and chalk resistant.
  5. UV Resistant.


  1. Panelite:

1)Panelite action on light rays 2) Perpendicular view through Panelite
1)Panelite action on light rays 2) Perpendicular view through Panelite

Panelite is almost like the common air vented insulating material sandwiched within transparent facing. But what makes it a class apart is its tubular honeycomb polycarbonate material within the facings which makes it a patented product. They are usually used in indoors.

The advantages are:

  1. Lightweight hence frame structure may not be elaborate.
  2. Reduce glare and transmit up to 65% of the daylight entering through the building envelope.
  3. Energy efficient as allows easy heating and cooling due to insulation against loss of energy.
  4. Easy to install.
  5. High strength is achieved when the honeycomb is sandwiched between the facings.
  6. Visual privacy- it allows complete perpendicular vision but curbs it at an oblique direction.
  7. Acoustical properties.
  8. Shock Resistant.


  1. Alusion:

Alusion texture samples
Alusion texture samples
Alusion interior
Alusion interior

Alusion is Architectural Stabilized Aluminium Foam. It is formed by infecting air into molten aluminium suspension containing ceramic particles. The bubbled structure so formed after the suspension is frozen is allusion. It is used for interior and exterior cladding.

It is available in several finishes, large, mid and small cellular structure.

The perks of the product includes:

  1. Light weight.
  2. Shock Absorbent.
  3. Acoustical properties.
  4. 100% recyclable.
  5. Excellent insulators owing to the air bubbles (only in sheets closed on both sides).
  6. Open air bubbles can act as ventilators (only in sheets open on both sides).
  7. Bugs do not nest in aluminium foam.
  8. Impact resistant.
  9. Resistant to wind load.
  10. Resistant to mould and dew.