History of Building Materials

A Timeline study about building materials, this study was presented in Lighthouse center of design in Glasgow – Scotland. The study was a part of architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition who designed the Lighthouse center.

History of building materials
History of building materials, by Z. Alrayyes 2011

History of Building Materials

Ages before, vernacular architecture in all around the world depended on building materials from earth and surrounding areas. For instance In Palestine using limestone and clay bricks, In London using bricks and Portland stones. Also In northern countries using pine wood to build ,In north pole using ice as building materials. Throughout another climate like Arab gulf woven animal hair to build tents, In Algeria they were digging and carving underground houses. Hassan Fathi the Egyptian architect who have the concepts to create buildings from what earth have, ending up with a great architecture appearance and concepts. Architecture in each area of the world had it own character, building materials was one of the affecting factors beside ideology and climate …etc.

Architecture from Geology

In architecture and civil engineering building materials classify according to tension and compression strengths. If tension strength is higher than compression strength it called strength materials and visa versa. Bamboo and steel are tension materials where it resists high tension forces while it bends at a little compression forces. On the other hand, stones and bricks are compression materials, also a little tension force can ruin the material structure. These specifications of materials require certain rules to resist forces, in order to create architecture. These rules call engineering, building codes contain formulas, rules and methods of construction of different materials. When forming and engineering  materials to buildings, it will give a different result at each area, climate and users social behaviors. These differences in architecture have a special beauty, where people travel the world to see different architecture and culture.

Building Materials in Modern Architecture

After the industrial revolution and appearance of engines and shipping ships. Building materials can easily transport from one country to another. Nowadays markets are full of imported building materials. People in the Middle-East use the same materials people use in Switzerland. This means that architecture in China is similar to Middle Africa and Russia for instance. Wondering how people after several decades will look at our architecture.

Palestinian Stone

Palestinian stone is located at West Bank Mountains. Commonly it caved in a rough texture to use in building facade cladding and for decor.

As Palestinian stones are limestone extracting from different mountains. Thus stone types are various according to location. Each stone has it physical specifications, where they vary in absorption ratio, rigidity and strength of bearing, leading to price differences. Most famous stone types are Njassa, Shyoukh, Slayeb, Tafouh, Barezit and many others.

Palestinian stone types

Njassa and Shyoukh are white. However Njassa is more white and has less absorption ratio which will remain white for longer type. In other hand Shyoukh Band 160 found deep inside the mountain, which is similar to Njassa stone specifications. Slayeb is red and yellow stone, its solid with a low absorption ratio. Taffouh is that yellow stone, while Birzeit is varied from yellow to grayish green but it yellow is more hue than Tafouh. There are other types found in Palestine like Beersheba stone in Negev desert. Its light gray color stone in similar tones, this gives architecture seem like it built from one stone building.

Stone extracted then cut in slabs then to different sizes and thickness to fit the required application. What’s makes Palestinian stone unique in facade cladding, its has a rough face where it shows architecture massive. The well-known two major sizes, the 25 cm height and 12 cm height its come in 3 cm thickness and random widths. Personally I consider 12 cm height is more beauty in scale and details, however 25 cm scale and details appear differently because it requires a different caving techniques. Increase stone thickness could be a solution to have the large size appears in nice details similar to 12 cm stone size.  

Stone types, cut sizes and arrangement have various alternatives, resulting huge methods to build and design of the building facade. Here are some photos of buildings elevation designs that created by Palestinian stone.

building using Slayeb stone , Gaza by ORIGIN DESIGN
Palestinian stone by ORIGIN DESIGN
Proposal for Palestinian stone building in Gaza using rough and smooth stone.