Going Back to Basics
In our complex world where technology infiltrates every moment of our busy, modern lives, sometimes we yearn for the simpler things in life.
This craving for a back to basics approach is echoed in the architectural trend for raw materials, where designers are showcasing the beautiful simplicity of exposed finishes and construction materials in their purest state.
The trend for futuristic glazed structures seems to be waning due to its popularity and overuse within urban landscapes, with more tactile and traditional materials such as brick, stone and cement now taking centre stage for external wall cladding.
What is the Appeal of Raw Cement?
In a similar way to brick, raw cement uncompromisingly shows the construction material for what it is.
Whilst maintaining a level of character due to its irregular variation in tones and surface texture, it is understated enough to act as a versatile “neutral” which combines beautifully with other materials such a wood and metal.
Raw cement can quite easily appear cold and stark as vertical cladding, but given the right treatment it can add warmth, texture and a sense of luxury to a project.
From Exteriors to Interiors
The restrained sophistication of raw cement has allowed it to transition from being an architectural design trend to a material used within both commercial and domestic interior schemes. To achieve a subtle industrial look, raw cement and concrete finishes have risen in popularity for everything from walls and floors to bathtubs, tabletops and plant pots in offices, hospitality venues and our homes.
The effects of weathering often enhance the appeal of raw cement, with the “lived in” look conveying a sense of durability and low maintenance which is also attractive to architects and their clients.
The Influence of Brutalism
Raw cement and concrete were made popular through the Brutalist architectural movement, which embraced inexpensive, durable and functional building materials in the post-war climate from the 1950s to the 1970s. The moniker “Brutalist” is not influenced by the often imposing and austere structures created in this style, but it comes from the French “béton brut” – meaning raw concrete.
A pioneering advocate of “béton brut” was architect Le Corbesier, who used it on the external facade to give a visual demonstration of how the building was constructed, rather than it being hidden away as part of the inner structure.
Dare to Bare with Puro Plus
Looking to achieve a raw cement finish on your next facade scheme? The Puro Plus design from Wienerberger’s SVK fibre cement cladding collection offers a contemporary, high performance solution.
Puro Plus is simply unfinished and uncoated fibre cement, showcasing the visual appeal of the material in its natural state. Elegant and contemporary, this cement board cladding achieves the look of raw concrete but in a lightweight, low maintenance, A2 fire rated alternative.
With no surface treatment, the inherent colour variation within Puro Plus cladding panels will become more distinctive over time, creating a unique appearance in reaction to environmental factors.
Fibre cement is an ideal material for exterior cladding panels as it offers strength, durability, an excellent fire performance rating, resistance to mould, rot and bacteria, as well as no risk of shrinkage, warping or cracking once installed.
Many fibre cement products are also extremely low maintenance, so they can be cleaned with water and a mild detergent, with no specialist chemicals or processes required. Colourfast, UV resistant and hydrophobic coatings can be applied to the fibre cement to offer additional protection against weather and pollution.
Lightweight but strong, fibre cement facade panels can be installed quickly, efficiently and safely onto a wide range of substrates as an outer skin, minimising labour costs and disruption. Typically fitted onto a timber or aluminium sub-frame using rivets, screws or glue, fibre cement cladding panels can also be easily installed alongside other facade systems or brick for a mixed material aesthetic.
When installed according to manufacturer’s instructions, fibre cement panels fitted to an open-joint facade system allow the building to breathe and thermo-regulate by providing a well-ventilated cavity between the back of the panels and surface of the insulation.
Fire Performance and Weather Resistance
Fibre cement as a material will not fuel a fire within a building or ignite when exposed to flames, and products such as A2 rated SVK panels are subjected to rigorous testing to achieve their fire rating, comparing ignitability, smoke production and heat release amongst other criteria.
Although they do offer some weather resistance, fibre cement cladding products are usually designed to be used as a decorative outer skin rather than a completely water and wind-proof shell, so inner cavity walls should be made watertight.
The beauty of fibre cement cladding lies in the design versatility of the material combined with the performance benefits it brings to a project. Whether using an uncoated product such as SVK Puro Plus to achieve a raw material aesthetic, or a coated coloured panel in any hue, fibre cement offers a contemporary, high performance cladding solution.
SVK fibre cement cladding panels are designed to make facades stand out on every dimension – from cost-effectiveness and compliance to premium look and feel.
For more information about the SVK range of fibre cement facade panels from Wienerberger, visit www.wienerberger.co.uk