Obsolete Materials

Lutron House

With the provocation, “is brick an obsolete material?” a further matter arises.  It begs the question, what makes a material obsolete?  Generally, a material can only be considered obsolete when another material has replaced it on the market because it is more efficient, longer-lasting, or more economically viable. Thus it is possible that in some places certain materials, such as bricks, linoleum, or heavy timber framing, are obsolete.  However, in other places, these materials may still be the norm.  In many parts of Africa, Asia and South America mud packed houses framed with untreated logs are still prevalent.

When even trying to identify an obsolete material, the only one I managed to identify was Lustron.  This only seemed to disappear from the market because the company went bankrupt.  Lead and asbestos were the others that jumped to mind, but their demise was for a wholly different reason. That would add another category to rendering something obsolete—harm.  After all, that is why wood framing stopped being used in factories, in addition to steel becoming more economical and efficient.  Harmful materials are exiting the market with far less frequency than other materials are entering.  How will we ever keep up?


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