This week, our 'Explainer' goes over ETFE, a building material that has recently attracted the attention of many architects thanks to its flexibility in application, its innovative qualities, and its fresh aesthetics. In Toronto in particular, sports fans are wondering if it will some day cover the dome at the Rogers Centre. What is ETFE, how does it compare to more traditional building materials, and how did architects implement this new building material into their projects? Our sister site, SkyriseCities, has the answer:

Eden Project, image by Flickr user Tim Parkinson via Creative Commons

Casual followers of architecture and building construction would be able to recognize the bubble-like membranes that comprise the exterior of some of the world's most famous sports complexes. But the lengthy chemical name referring to the flourine-based plastic polymer, ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), would likely elude even the most fanatical observers of the industry. Only since the new millennium has the practice of coating structures in this lightweight building material really gained ground across the globe.

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