Fibre cement provides stunning finish for contemporary farmhouse

Marley Eternit’s Thrutone fibre cement slate has helped architects of a new-build West Sussex farmhouse achieve the high energy-efficiency standards desired for the project while also giving the building a striking aesthetic finish.

The owners of Wimland Farm, an arable farm in West Sussex, were undertaking a complete re-plan of the farm’s layout to maximise the potential of their business. As part of the re-plan, the owners decided to build a new, more energy efficient dwelling as the existing Grade II listed farmhouse was too large for their requirements.

Midlands-based BBLB Architects designed the new house around an open courtyard, with two-storey living accommodation and a single-storey sleeping wing. The wing extends into the landscape to shelter external spaces from the prevailing wind and all large openings from internal spaces are angled towards the South, to maximise the views and further aid the environmental performance of the property.

The house has been designed to achieve high standards of energy efficiency. To help achieve this vision, the architects selected structural insulated panels with the lightweight Thrutone fibre cement slate as a cost effective and sustainable alternative to natural slate. Marley Eternit’s fibre cement slate has also achieved an impressive A+ rating in the BRE ‘Green Guide to Specification’, which was a key selling point for Wimland Farm project architect Tony Mead.

Tony explains: “We selected these slates for both roofing and cladding for three main reasons – the A+ rating, aesthetics and value for money. We knew that the SIPs system provided us with high levels of air tightness to the structure and we used the fibre cement tiles throughout as a ventilated rainscreen to protect the membrane, which gave added assistance to our strategy to minimise thermal bridges.”

The traditional slate aesthetic of Thrutone fibre cement slates was also a factor that appealed to the architects. Tony continues: “As part of planning requirements, the new building needed to adopt a traditional profile. This made Thrutone fibre cement slate ideal to help the building sit within the existing landscape. The smoothness and consistency of colour meant that the final result is slick, yet in keeping with the traditional impression the building needed to make. The client was very happy with the end result.”

Fibre cement is rapidly becoming a popular and versatile alternative to natural slate. Charlotte Hughes, campaign manager for Marley Eternit, comments: “Fibre cement offers both contemporary and flexible design options and is used to create stunning roofs and facades. While natural slate has always been a fashionable choice of roof covering, fibre cement slates have increasingly become popular as a cost effective and sustainable alternative.

“Not only are they lightweight, strong and durable, which allows them to be transported, stored and installed with ease, but the fact that fibre cement slates are manmade means that they can be manufactured to uniform dimensions, speeding up the sorting and installation process.

“Ever-tightening environmental legislation means that the sustainability properties of fibre cement as a building material, together with its aesthetic versatility, are attracting considerable interest from specifiers.”

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