Expanded metal in industrial architecture


Industrial architecture embodies the innovation and functionality crucial for the industrial sector. It has evolved since the Industrial Revolution to accommodate the needs of processing materials into final products. It prioritises safety and function. At the same time, projects offer some aesthetic solutions for facades and exterior spaces. 

What is an example of industrial architecture?

The features of industrial architecture vary according to the buildings’ purpose. However, there are some characteristics widely considered by industrial architects.

  • Large open spaces. High ceilings and open floor plans are typical elements since they provide big room for working activities.
  • Simplicity and minimalism. Safety and functionality are crucial. It is not surprising that a minimalist approach is the key, without unnecessary decorations.
  • Natural light. Industrial architecture integrates natural light with large windows and skylights to maximise energy efficiency and create a pleasant working environment.

These three elements are very common in industrial buildings, un umbrella term which include:

When we talk about industrial architecture, we are mainly talking about the buildings from the Second Industrial Revolution, which happened in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These buildings were made because people started using new materials like metal and concrete, and they came up with ways to produce things on a large scale.

This new kind of architecture was all about making buildings that could help industries turn raw materials into finished products as quickly and efficiently as possible. Builders and architects had to think about how things were made and keep workers safe.

In the 1960s, architects and designers started changing old warehouses into places where artists could live and work in places like lower Manhattan. This trend is still happening today. Lots of developers are finding ways to turn old industrial buildings into cool apartments, shared office spaces, big open offices, and places for events. 

The big challenge of todays’ architects and designers is to create industrial spaces with mainly windows and open layouts for how we work today. Technology keeps changing and industrial buildings must fit new processing ways. While workers’ safety remains an essential request, energy efficiency has become fundamental, too, with new green standards and practices. 


What is the difference between modern architecture and industrial architecture? 


Clean lines, geometric shapes and the use of new materials like steel and glass characterise modern architecture in general. It is rooted in the early 20th century and broke away from traditional styles to embrace innovation, simplicity and functionality. 

Architects like Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe paved the way for a new era of design that prioritised efficiency and human comfort. Today, modern architecture continues to evolve, incorporating sustainable practices, advanced technologies, and a focus on social responsibility. 

Modern architecture aims to redevelop abandoned industrial structures and become a cornerstone of urban regeneration. This is one reason why there is often talk of post-industrial architecture. 

Contemporary industrial architecture draws elements from modern architecture. Lloyd Wright and other famous modern architects started using the saying “form follows function.” They combined the needs of industrial buildings with simple decorations typical of modern design.

This modern style influenced industrial design for many years and evolved into other architectural styles like International Style and Brutalism.


What are the characteristics of industrial architecture?


Industrial architecture is known for some key aspects:

  • large open spaces;
  • unfinished structural materials like exposed steel, brick, and concrete;
  • large doorways;
  • large metal-grid windows;
  • high ceilings. 

Functionality is the essential element in designing an industrial space. At the same time, there are solutions to pursue aesthetics in certain areas, such as facades.

The lack of ornamentation on building facades is a typical element in industrial architecture. 

At the same time, there are now effective solutions available to add a touch of personality to a simple industrial building or one housing a productive activity.

Among the innovative materials for the facade of an industrial structure, expanded metal stands out. It ensures a lot of benefits. 

  • It has an excellent corrosion resistance performance and a long lasting durability thanks to production processes such as anodizing
  • It is fireproof, sound-insulating, heat-insulating, maintenance-free and wind-resistant.
  • Since it is a tailor-made element, open areas on its surface provide a natural ventilation system which is a fundamental element for safety. 
  • It also works as an effective solution for sun shading: it filters light and reduces the buildings’ warming.

In addition to these functional characteristics, there is the aesthetic value. A facade made of expanded metal adds personality to buildings, including those used for industrial purposes.

Carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminium, brass, and copper are just some examples of the materials with which it can be made.  

Advanced painting techniques not only contribute to increasing resistance over time to external agents but also offer numerous options to harmonise a facade with the surrounding context. This way, an industrial building is less impactful from an environmental standpoint and becomes a structure with aesthetic and design elements.

Expanded metal is also often considered by architects and facade builders to give new life to old renovated structures and transform them into more modern and appealing buildings.


What is architecture and industrial design?

When we refer to industrial architecture, we should not confuse it with industrial design. Architecture and industrial design are in fact two distinct fields that involve the creation and development of physical structures or products, but they have different focuses and objectives. 

Creativity, technical knowledge, and an understanding of human needs and behaviours are the elements common to both fields. 

  • Architecture deals with the design, planning, and construction of buildings and other physical structures.
  • Architects consider factors such as functionality, aesthetics, safety, and environmental sustainability when designing structures.
  • Architects often work closely with clients, engineers, and construction professionals to bring their designs to fruition.

On the other hand, industrial design focuses on the creation and development of products, from consumer goods to machinery and equipment.

Industrial designers aim to improve the functionality, usability, and aesthetic appeal of products. 

  • They consider factors such as user experience, ergonomics, materials, manufacturing processes, and market trends during the design process.
  • Industrial designers often collaborate with engineers, manufacturers, marketers, and other stakeholders to ensure that the final product meets the needs of both users and producers.

While architecture is primarily concerned with designing and constructing buildings and structures, industrial design focuses on creating and enhancing the form and function of various products. 

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