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The Circular Potential of Fiber Cement Cladding

Sustainable cities require innovative solutions that prioritize reducing waste and promoting the reuse of resources. To achieve this, a new mindset is needed to rethink traditional production processes and embrace the principles of the circular economy. The circular economy is a concept that aims to minimize waste and pollution by reusing and recycling materials, instead of using them only once and disposing of them.

The circular design is a critical aspect of this concept, which focuses on designing products and systems that can be reused, recycled, or repurposed. In architecture, this approach encourages the use of materials that can be cycled back into the system, rather than becoming waste.

Image courtesy by - Alexandre D' La Roch

Fiber cement cladding is an example of a sustainable solution that aligns with the principles of circular construction. This type of cladding is made from natural elements such as minerals, water, air, and fire, through a simple filtration process. Not only is it environmentally friendly in its composition, but it is also designed to have a lifespan that exceeds that of the building it is used in. By thinking about the entire lifecycle of construction material, the circular design encourages architects and designers to create products that can be reused, recycled, or transformed, rather than discarded after a single use.

Why is it Suitable?

Practicing circularity in the design process of building materials requires the input and expertise of professionals from various industries. Equitone, through its multidisciplinary approach, offers prefabricated facade panels that are designed to be easily added, removed, adapted, replaced, and recycled.

Image courtesy by - Alexandre D' La Roche

Fiber cement cladding is an ideal material for this type of circular design approach. It is modular, lightweight, easy to dismantle, and has a lifespan of 50 years. Architects and designers can use Equitone's Specifier Design Guide to understand the range of solutions and design combinations that are possible with this type of cladding.

These panels offer a high degree of design flexibility, allowing for a variety of forms, patterns, and special applications, such as perforations, extreme cuttings, milled surfaces, and curved walls. There are four types of connecting joints available: open, overlap, covered, or baffled, and fixings can be either visible or hidden. The panels are designed as a ventilated facade system, with a backing wall that allows for air circulation.

When the building reaches the end of its lifecycle, these panels can be easily dismantled and repurposed, minimizing waste and promoting circularity in the design process.

Fiber Cement Panels in Architecture:

The versatility and design flexibility of using panels in architectural projects make them suitable for a wide range of building types, such as residential, institutional, public, and commercial.

1. Vista North Pearl Condominiums:

The Vista North Pearl Condominiums building is located in a redeveloped area of former train yards in Portland, surrounded by dense urban fabric and overlooking Fields Park and the Willamette River.

Image courtesy by - Lincoln Barbour

The building design responds to its context with a textured composition of broad decks on the east and west sides for views of the West Hills and Cascade Mountains, and a taut skin of dark gray panels and regularly spaced windows on the north and south sides, reflecting the industrial past of the neighborhood. The five-story podium base reflects the historic scale of the district, while the 21-story tower aligns with city goals for higher-density residences in the area.

The building steps back to create a fifth-level terrace with planters, and a shifting facade of resident deck spaces, which also collect and treat rainwater. The decks act as "stacked porches" that connect residents to different scales of the landscape. The facade's undulation is inspired by the Willamette River and the east/west facades are expressive with colorful panels as a backdrop for urban outdoor living. The design prioritizes access to views and light for the primary living spaces with large windows and sliding doors that open to the decks.

2. Villa Maillard:
3. Childhood Center in Marmoutier:
Surfaces, Texture & colors:
Image courtesyby - Maxime Naveteur

In addition to the environmental benefits of its circular design, fiber cement facade panels offer versatility in terms of design options. These panels can be customized to fit the specific aesthetic and style of a project through a variety of textures, colors, shapes, and layouts. Architects also have the option to choose from five different materials for the panels: Linea, Lunara, Tectiva, Pictura, and Natura, providing a range of possibilities to suit different design requirements.

Fiber cement facade panels are a versatile and durable option for building exteriors. They come in large sizes and can be customized to fit the specific dimensions and shapes of a project. The panels are also resistant to fire, chemicals, living organisms, and extreme temperatures, which means they require minimal maintenance and can last for a long period of time. This makes them an ideal choice for architects and designers who want to create durable and sustainable buildings.

In conclusion, fiber cement cladding is a sustainable and versatile material that can be used in various architectural projects. It has a circular potential as it can be repurposed after a building's lifecycle, reducing waste. It also offers flexibility in design with various textures, colors, shapes, and layouts and is highly durable with resistance to fire, chemicals, living organisms and extreme temperatures. It can be used for various types of building like residential, institutional, public or commercial.

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