Creative Uses for Aluminium

Many might think of aluminium as that stuff that wraps up your leftovers, and that you shouldn’t put in a microwave. The versatile metal is in fact used across many industries: people use aluminium profiles in many industries like construction, transport and technology. These examples, however, are more creative ways of putting this malleable metal to work.

Aluminium-coated storage space

In France, a storage depot designed by Brisac Gonzalez exhibits a beautiful use of easily moulded aluminium. The depot is covered in small, pyramid-shaped, aluminium panels with raised central points. Some of the panels are closed but others appear to be “opening” along their X-shaped lines, revealing different shades of turquoise, red, lilac and pink below their silver exteriors. Different panels have opened to slightly different degrees, mimicking the effect of slowly opening flower blossoms.

Ant’s nest cast

Ant colonies have, until now, been visually understood only through the use of tiny cameras on the ends of bendable pipes and in glass-sleeved displays. A new method of studying an ants’ nest – although it involves killing the inhabitants – is to pour molten aluminium into the top of an anthill. This fills every crack and crevice of the internal nest. Once the aluminium has cooled and the dirt has been washed away, a beautiful metallic cast is left. Insectologists use this type of cast to learn more about the nesting patterns of different species of ants.

Rebel House

The Rebel House, named because it differs so markedly from the face-brick houses that surround it, is a beautiful, modern but low-budget home in Almere, Netherlands. Clad with shiny aluminium walls, it reflects its surroundings. According to MONO, the studio that designed it, “the house looks like a spaceship which touched ground to mother earth”. The low budget requirements of the private client meant that aluminium was an ideal choice. The exterior is aluminium, save for the windows, and the insides of the walls are coated in timber to give the interior a feeling of warmth.

CCTV covers

Although necessary for safety, CCTV cameras are often an unsightly blight on city landscapes, giving people the unnerving feeling of living in the world of “Big Brother”. Enter designer Eleanor Trevisanutto, who designs cute animal facades to disguise CCTV cameras. Pigeons, chameleons, squirrels and grasshoppers are designed from flat sheets of aluminium for a simple, clean look that is far more pleasing to the eye than traditional CCTV cameras.

Foil-wrapped factory

The Strasbourg campus of the French architecture school, École Nationale Superieure, has a unique finish – its outer walls are lined with wrinkled aluminium. By day the campus, which was designed by architect Marc Mimram, reflects the changing light. At night, it’s lit from the inside, revealing the building’s chunky steel skeleton.


Made from a chrome-aluminium alloy, the Melter-3D is an incredible sculpture on display in the Ratio3 gallery in San Francisco. It creates the illusion of endlessly melting into itself, although in fact it’s only rotating. A series of meticulously timed strobe flashes, along with the painstakingly designed object, give it the appearance of liquid movement.

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