IN: Inspiration


While fibre cement has been around since the 1950s, modern-day usage is resulting in spectacular facades for buildings.


Coated fibre cement is hardly new. Renowned architect Walter Gropius pioneered the use of such panels in the 1950s. Times may have changed, but the properties of fibre cement that were admired then – it was thin, strong and formable – are as valid today as they were over 60 years ago.

These advantages are due to the fact that fibre cement is a composite material, created by reinforcing a mix of cement, cellulose and minerals with a matrix of fibres. Yet advances in the usage of fibre cement have most certainly been made since the days when designer Willy Guhl first closed together a single piece of fibre cement to form his now much copied “loop chair” way back in 1954.

While the early pioneers worked with coated fibres, it was architecture firm Herzog & De Meuron that, in the 1980s, made an impact on building facades by using uncoated fibre cement panels. Raw fibre cement materials are now commonplace. Contemporary architects such as Souto De Moura, Herman Hertzberger, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects and others are making new strides with this material by exploring ways to create striking facades that add to the noteworthiness of their buildings. Today’s untreated fibre cement panels allow for advanced design flexibility. Not only can they be coloured, but they can also be transformed into any shape and size. They can even be perforated, printed or embossed…



The Erl Festival Hall in Austria created by architectural firm Delugan Meissl is an excellent example of what can be done. The building’s extraordinary and intricately detailed exterior was designed to pay homage to its landscape context and was created using Equitone façade panels that take their shape and colouration from the surrounding alps.


According to the architects: “the configuration of the Festival Hall resembles a tectonic stratification. Its crevices and faults lying in between indicate the way into the building’s interior. At nighttime the incisions and folds in the distinctive façade allow insight into the radiant foyer.”

facede panel

The possibilities for the architecture of the future are indeed exciting and profound, and the Erl Festival hall is testament to this. Yet as to be expected with such a fantastic material, untreated fibre cement panels are rapidly making their way into interior and furniture design applications, too. The possibilities are vast. How would you unleash the potential of untreated fibre cement panels?


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