Our perception of the built environment is strongly reliant on the materials that surround us. We do not perceive by sight alone.  We have five senses, all of which contribute to our impression of our environment. What we hear, touch, taste and smell is often subtle in its influence, but as formative as sight, in building an image of our surroundings.

In modern industrial economies in general and in Britain in particular, choice of materials is vast. In the past, it was often limited to what was locally available because the cost of long distance transport was prohibitive. Compatible combinations of local building materials evolved from experimentation, slowly honed for optimum performance that then developed into a coherent language of building.

Wide choice is liberating and helps us to build with great economy of means and to address many of the shortcomings of traditional techniques, but presents problems of its own. Time is often too short for experimentation, on individual projects, to establish new compatible combinations and develop them into an articulate, widely understood architectural language, in the traditional sense. Instead, we turn to science, manufacturers' Research & Development and lateral thinking, importing ideas from the Arts and from industry.