A material library is a cataloged collection of real-world materials kept for research and reference. Often the library consists of recently released, innovative, or unusual products, but can also include more commonly used materials that are important to combine, compare, contrast etc., in their full materiality.
As heritage architects, our library also contains reference materials long out of date; for heritage work, obsolete materials are still useful even if we can no longer use them. A lot of what we hold onto, then, are the termite-eaten timbers, crumbled stones, and elaborate hand-carved ornaments from bygone years. These allow us to study the materials of the past and make more informed decisions about current restoration, refurbishment, and new design possibilities.
Interested in cutting-edge developments in material science? Check out the Institute of Making.