Foil Architecture

Aluminum Foil.  In a game of word association, what do those two words bring to mind?  Grilling, Chipotle Burrito, leftovers…Ok, maybe I’m just hungry right now, but in that game of word association, it would have been a long time before I would have landed on building material.  However, a new project at the Aberyswyth Arts Centre makes foil (steel in this case) into a cladding system.  The structure of 2x4s is wrapped in foil and then filled-in with spray foam insulation.  The inexpensive buildings now serve as artists’ studios at the center.

Surprised as I was by these buildings I searched to find a few more examples of foil-clad buildings.  The Markel Building and the House of Huarte.  The former is wrapped in 555 ft lengths of aluminum and unsurprisingly the inspiration was a foil wrapped baked potato.  The later is composed of recycled aluminum panels, albeit much thicker than that used in either of the other projects.


While I believe recycled materials will comprise a large part of future building (I see a future blog post!) I have a hard time accepting the first example presented. While the interior photos of the artists’ studios reveal a more elegant appearance than the outward façade, what a building of foil portrays is that of impermanence.  What implications will this temporary building movement have on the field of architecture?



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