The Circular Potential of Fiber Cement Cladding
Sustainable cities demand sustainable solutions, which imply the development of a new mindset for the reformulation of conventional creation processes. Within the fight against climate change, the circular economy concept is known as a key factor for the sustainable solutions of the future. Part of this concept is known as circular design, which aims to transform the traditional paradigm of ‘using and throwing away’ into a commitment to reusing existing materials.
Circular design rethinks the creation process of products from the first steps, guiding architects and designers to create products that can be reused, recycled or transformed. Applying circularity in architecture opens the debate of rethinking the life cycle of construction materials. In this manner, fiber cement cladding –a combination of basic earth elements, mineral materials, water, air and fire, in a simple filtration process– proposes a design solution that meets the basic principles of circular construction. In addition to its composition, strength and durability, these products are designed as a system that can outlast a building’s lifecycle.
Why is Fiber Cement Suitable for Circular Design?
Practicing circularity in the design process of building materials involves the contribution of experts outside the construction industry. With a multidisciplinary practice that rethinks the traditional process, Equitone proposes prefabricated facade panels designed as a system that it is easy to add, remove, adapt, replace and dismantle for recycling.
Besides being modular, lightweight and easy to dismantle, fiber cement cladding has a life expectancy of 50 years. This type of cladding is especially helpful for architects who are looking to design circular buildings based on materials that follow a modular design, generate minimal waste and apply reused components. In the planning of these buildings, architects can follow the Equitone Specifier Design Guide to understand the scope of solutions and design combinations that can be achieved.
Allowing a wide freedom of design, these panels can be arranged in different forms, with either large, small or narrow panels assembled in a vertical, horizontal or angled pattern. Architects can also play with special applications such as perforations, extreme cuttings, milled surfaces and curved walls. Between the panels, there are four types of connecting joints: open, overlap, covered or baffled joints. Blending with the panel’s color, fixings can be both visible or hidden, yet accommodating to support the frame without adding excessive stress to the panel. As a ventilated facade system, these panels include a backing wall that allows space for air circulation.
If (or when) the building’s life cycle comes to an end, these panels are designed to be dismantled and used again.
Fiber Cement Panels in Architecture Projects
The versatility and design flexibility of designing with panels allows them to be used in different types of architectural projects, whether for residential, institutional, public or commercial uses.
In two examples of properly applied circular design strategies, residential architecture projects like Vista North Pearl Condominiums or the Villa Maillard opt for fiber cement cladding facades. As a multi-family building in Portland, the first project uses two types of panels –Linea and Tectiva– to develop a textured composition with a taut skin of dark gray panels and regularly spaced windows that aims to reflect the identity of the neighborhood and its industrial past. Giving an air of sustainability to its surrounding urban fabric, the wavyness of the facade –inspired by the Willamette River– functions as a backdrop for the green terraces.
The renovation of a 1930’s single-family residence in Tourcoing demonstrates how this strategy works, while giving a second life to the building. Rethinking the house’s facade gave space to the incorporation of Tectiva cladding panels, which create a new skin for the house, while maintaining the possibility of reusing them in the future.
The Childhood Center in Marmoutier is also an example of fiber cement facade panels in architecture. Maintaining the same colors inside, this project uses dark gray Linea panels to create a geometric facade that follows the building’s clean and rational form. Playing with light and shadow through its 3D linear texture, the surface enhances the unique shape of the skylights.
In line with geometric architecture, the Egaligilo Pavilion creates an orthogonal enclosure based on puzzle-shaped fiber panels. Cut by a CNC system, 400 pieces were made for the outer skin and more than 3,000 circles for the inside volume. In order to make this pavilion reusable in the future, these panels were screwed into the main structure, with just some welding points to reassure security. By incorporating circular materials in the design, the pavilion seeks to raise awareness for recycling ephemeral structures in architecture.
Surfaces, Textures and Colors
In addition to the sustainable solutions provided by its circular design, fiber cement facade panels can also adapt to different requirements. Depending on the project’s style, these panels can be designed in a variety of textures and colors and can be arranged in various shapes and layouts. When defining the panel’s materials, architects can choose among five options: ‘Linea’, ‘Lunara’, ‘Tectiva’,‘Pictura’ and ‘Natura’.
Linea: a 3D Shaped Textures that Play with Light and Shadow
Lunara: An Irregular Texture Where No Two Boards are Alike
Tectiva: A Sanded Surface that Highlights the Material’s Natural Fibrous Texture
Pictura: Smooth Matte Surfaces with No Visible Fibers
Natura: Matte Surface with Randomly Distributed Fibers
These facade materials come in large panel sizes and can be modified according to the project’s dimensions and shapes. Their resistance to fire, chemicals, living organisms and extreme temperatures, allow the material to last with a minimum amount of maintenance.
For more information on fiber cement cladding, visit the products catalog.