06 January 2016

Introduced in the late 1960s, there are now around 10,000 Conservation Areas in the UK.  As well as significant historic landmarks and rural villages and landscapes, these also include the centre of some older cities and towns, former industrial sites and even some significant early housing estates.

Roofing and cladding materials play a major role in maintaining both the character of individual buildings and the local identity.  Specifying products for restoration, refurbishment or new build projects in these areas brings its own challenges – from colour and materials matching and managing costs to achieve planning consent and meeting the distinct roofing and cladding requirements of different local authorities.

At Marley Eternit we have provided technical support, feasibility studies, design advice, product samples, materials matching and site visits by our experts to help architects with a vast array of conservation and heritage projects.

English Heritage Refurbishment

Getting the perfect clay tile colour blend was the challenge on a £500,000 roof replacement project at the Turner Home, a Grade II listed building in Liverpool.  Designed by renowned architect Alfred Waterhouse in 1884, the nursing and residential facility is designated a listed building by English Heritage.  Over the past decade, vital work has been undertaken to gradually preserve the fabric of the building, with the most recent project being a complete replacement of the roof, which still had the original brindle clay tiles made over 100 years ago.

We worked with the architect Andrew Smith to make sure we could get as close a match as possible to the original clay tiles and he specified our Acme Double Camber clay plain tile in Dark Brindle.  We brought samples along to site and helped lay them out to ensure we could closely match the original colour blend on the roof.  The finished effect is beautiful with the roof restored to its former glory.

Can fibre cement sheeting be used on scheduled monuments?

Our team of experts is able to offer specialist roofing and cladding expertise at the design stages to help with technically challenging projects.  One recent example is Lion Salt Works, where we were involved in the restoration and conversion of the UK’s last remaining open-pan salt works into a visitor centre and museum.  As a Scheduled Ancient Monument, materials used to restore the building had to replace like with like, whilst protecting the existing structure.  We were consulted by architects Donald Insall Associates (DIA) early in the project to assess the feasibility of using fibre cement profiled sheeting for the roofing and cladding of all the buildings.   We visited the site and advised how the profiled sheeting could be carefully selected and cut to be used on the existing structure and we have continued to provide technical support throughout the project.

Can contemporary products be used in conservation projects?

Yet conserving the past doesn’t mean there is no room for modern striking design.  Many of the best conservation projects feature contemporary vernacular, a design that incorporates traditional materials and aesthetics but is re-designed in a more contemporary way.  It gives a nod to the past but also looks to the future.  

One such example is Leaf Architecture’s specification of our Cedral Click wall cladding system to help a self builder achieve an architectural fusion between their property’s impressive angular design and the neighbouring Grade II listed church spire in the beautiful Conservation Area of Broughton, Northamptonshire. The facade helps to reduce the impact of the building on the landscape by combining the slate grey Cedral Click and traditional honey coloured stone, which work together to make the most of sunlight, shadow and sightlines. 

Can fibre cement products be used in conservation areas?

Piercy & Co architects also wanted to create a contemporary aesthetic at the 1 Baker’s Row development in London’s Clerkenwell Green Conservation Area.  We supplied our EQUITONE fibre cement facade to help them create an engaging interface between the old and new architectural styles within this densely built up area of London.

Although local authorities specify the use of traditional materials for new or re-roofing projects in Conservation Areas, many now accept fibre cement slate as a sustainable alternative to natural slate because it replicates the aesthetic so effectively at a reduced cost.  Our fibre cement slates have been specified for schools and residential buildings in Conservation Areas.  

One example is the redevelopment of the former Bleaklow Mill in Hawkshaw into 24 luxury apartments.  The fact the site is set in a green belt Conservation Area meant local planners specified natural slate but Cambrian Homes had concerns due to the site’s exposed location.  We worked with the house builder to demonstrate the effectiveness of fibre cement slates to meet their fixings needs and blend with the natural landscape.  After hearing about the environmental benefits associated with fibre cement, the planners changed their mind about insisting on natural slate and our Rivendale fibre cement slates were specified for the project.

Have you had to specify for a challenging project due to conservation issues?  How did you overcome it?  Please share your experiences below.

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