A thatched roof can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. Thatch can be produced as an agricultural byproduct, although combine harvesters have made this rare. More often, thatch is harvested from the wild. This low-cost and usually local material offers insulation and weatherproofing in one, and nurturing these plants protects diversity and local species.
Traditional materials have given way to mass-produced ones, which are quicker and easier to use and cheaper to produce and maintain. The flip side of this is that traditional skills are lost, and natural environments are damaged in order to gather more materials. Additionally, mass-produced materials lead to less diversity in our architecture.
While this may be acceptable to the people who finance our cities, the resulting buildings may be unloved by the people who actually live and work there. It’s easy to love a unique building that typifies one’s home and culture — but it’s hard to love a building that lacks any character.
There are clear, environmentally friendly alternatives to corten steel, and those materials can still be used to create buildings that catch the eye and move the soul. What matters most is that we advocate and celebrate architects who work with the planet in mind.