While stone and brick have traditionally been the materials of 'home', our experience of other material palettes in buildings for work and leisure, plus the increasing diversity of residential buildings, are loosening the ties of tradition. So far, this is mostly happening beyond the single-family home; in multioccupancy buildings from low- to high-rise.
A relatively established area is overcladding; the lightness, inherent fire-resistance and guaranteed durability of today's metal claddings provide obvious benefits. Generally, with the increasing residential repopulation of the city, there is often a wish to express, or even celebrate, this growing diversity of dwelling. Metal claddings can even, on occasion, be the contextual norm for higher-rise buildings.
Slower-changing is the use of metal cladding for low-rise and one-off houses.
For architects at least, the Californian Case Study houses were a turning point, followed in the UK by the notable houses of individual architects such as Hopkins, Ritchie, Winter and Ellis Miller. Latterly, there has been some increased use of expressed metal in more mainstream housing, such as by Proctor and Matthews at Harlow, and recently in an urban context; the Cor-Ten clad house of Chance de Silva (AJ 17.2.05). Shown here are The Water Villa and Forest Holiday Homes, where the form is expressed through the use of Colorcoat.
From work and leisure buildings, even religious building, designers have become aware of the ever-growing palette of metal claddings - the 'metallics' finish of the Colorcoat HPS200 range is a notable recent advance. Such finishes can sit comfortably in the residential sector, too, especially in luxury apartments and buildings where a contemporary aesthetic is required. In the case where these buildings are landlord-run and thus can be very maintenance-focused - such as social housing, student housing, care homes, hotels - the guarantees of longterm performance offered by the Confidex guarantee scheme are of great value.
Corus started the Confidex guarantee in 1992. It is now an established and widely-accepted guarantee in the more industrial and commercial building types. But, now Confidex is traversing the building types and is also being used in residential buildings.
A few years ago the use of unpainted timber cladding in mainstream housing was near unthinkable. Now it is common.
Perceptions change and are headed in more adventurous directions.
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