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Textured Fiber Cement: A More Sensory Architectural Experience

Textured Fiber Cement: A More Sensory Architectural Experience

Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh used the impasto technique extensively in their paintings. Both applied thick layers of oil paint over the canvas, usually one shade at a time, and it was up to the viewer's brain to mix the colors and create the desired effects. When dry, the paint forms reliefs and textures on the canvas, evoking a sense of movement. Even without being able to touch the screen, the texture of the brushstrokes gives a three-dimensionality to the painting, something that can only be fully observed by seeing the artwork live, looking at it from more than one angle and actually experiencing it.

In his famous book “The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses,” Juhani Pallasmaa points to "a predilection in favor of vision and in detriment of the other senses in the way architecture was conceived, taught and criticized, as well as the consequent disappearance of sensory and sensual characteristics in arts and architecture." According to the author, "an architectural work is not experienced as a series of isolated retinal images, but in its fully integrated material, corporeal, and spiritual essence."

Union House / Austin Maynard Architects. Image © Derek Swalwell
Union House / Austin Maynard Architects. Image © Derek Swalwell

As with Monet and van Gogh's brushstrokes, it is very difficult to replicate the total experience of a space without being present in it. Even though virtual reality technologies are increasingly accessible, there are several aspects of a space that can hardly be replicated: its temperature, sounds, smells, the feel of its surfaces, or even the dynamic experience of walking through it. Speaking, writing or trying to photograph a texture can be an impossible task. But there is no doubt that textures impact us and arouse sensations.

Architect: Studio Weave. Image © Jim Stephenson
Architect: Studio Weave. Image © Jim Stephenson
Architect: Delugan & Meissi Architects. Image © Brigida Gonzalez
Architect: Delugan & Meissi Architects. Image © Brigida Gonzalez

It is for this reason that choosing materials for a project's surfaces is so important and complex. The solution must include the desired sensations for the environment and its visual aesthetics, as well as construction considerations and costs. It can also be an important tool for people with disabilities. Additionally, surface materials can go even further by influencing emotions and memories - and to quote Pallasmaa again, “touch is the sensory mode that integrates our experience of the world with our individuality. Even visual perceptions blend and integrate into the tactile continuum of individuality: my body reminds me of who I am and where I am in the world.”

Architect: AB Architekten. Image © L-Ines Photo
Architect: AB Architekten. Image © L-Ines Photo
South / GENS. Image © Ludmilla Cerveny
South / GENS. Image © Ludmilla Cerveny

EQUITONE, a leader of fiber cement panels for façades, has developed several experiences with textures and colors for its pieces, which can adapt to the desired shapes in the project. From the shades on the plates, their choice of patterns, roughness and cut shapes, the façades have the ability to awaken countless sensations to the façade surfaces. The options range from sheets with very fine textures, which absorb and mirror part of the context, to linear three-dimensional ones, which highlight the raw texture of the core fiber cement material, altering the appearance slightly with the change in the angle of daylight. Panels can be cut and arranged in a variety of ways, allowing for vertical, horizontal or angular layouts, with large, small and narrow panels, randomly arranged or staggered.

Architect: ASA Architects. Image © Patrick Coulie Photography
Architect: ASA Architects. Image © Patrick Coulie Photography
Architect: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Image © Leonid Furmansky
Architect: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Image © Leonid Furmansky
Childhood Center in Marmoutier / Agence MW. Image © Stéphane SPACH
Childhood Center in Marmoutier / Agence MW. Image © Stéphane SPACH
Union House / Austin Maynard Architects. Image © Derek Swalwell
Union House / Austin Maynard Architects. Image © Derek Swalwell

Elegance, rusticity, sobriety or extroversion. There are several possibilities for sensations to arise when specifying materials for façade surfaces, depending on what the designer is looking for in the project. To investigate the complex psychology underlying our perceptions, exploring the fundamentals of texture in natural systems and reviewing some important textural milestones in the history of architecture, the company has launched the "Texture in Architecture" Continuing Education Online Course, aimed at architects and designers with all levels of experience. Looking at the latest developments in texture in related design disciplines and discussing recent texture approaches to building facades, the course challenges our understanding and prepares the viewer to take a new and more creative approach to implementing texture as best as possible in your own work.

Learn more about the course and browse examples of projects with textured fiber cement facades and surfaces.

Cite: "Textured Fiber Cement: A More Sensory Architectural Experience" [Fibrocimento texturizado: em direção a uma arquitetura mais sensorial] 28 Jul 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/964876/textured-fiber-cement-a-more-sensory-architectural-experience> ISSN 0719-8884
Cortesia de EQUITONE

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