Material Potential – Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding

Words by Sarah Sivaraman
Design Retallack Thompson, Lineburg Wang & Preston Lane
Visualisations James Hardie
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Celebrating the architectural capacity of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding – James Hardie’s newest innovation – the manufacturer commissioned a series of collaborative, speculative designs that go beyond the commonplace contemporary extension.

Three architectural firms – Retallack Thompson, Lineburg Wang and Preston Lane – were engaged to produce proposals for extensions on typical Australian dwellings. While the designs exist in theory only, the applications of the product and the results rendered are genuine. The product itself, Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding, is a pre-textured, fibre cement panel with endless potential. Being made from fibre cement, the panels are lightweight and easy to handle. Longevity has been prioritised, with Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding being suitable for non-combustible construction, meeting requirements of BAL40 while also resisting water, termite damage, rotting and warping.

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The 1,200-millimetre-wide panels are available in common wall heights up to 3,600 millimetres. Each panel connects to the next with shiplap joints, creating a subtle shadow line that works in harmony with the light-diffusing, matte finish of the cladding, which comes pre-primed and ready to paint. Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding is accompanied by a suite of architect-designed accessories that allow for seamless, detailed finishes on horizontal joints and corners. It is considered touches like these that exemplify the creative freedom that the product offers to architects and designers.

For Sydney-based studio Retallack Thompson, this freedom manifested in a study of texture and a sweeping sense of scale. Jemima Retallack and Mitchell Thompson conceived an extension for a traditional Federation brick bungalow, with a living area that flows serenely into a high-walled courtyard garden.

Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding, being just 8.5 millimetres thick, allowed Retallack Thompson to make the most of every inch of the modest building envelope and open the existing dwelling up to the natural world. The surface texture of the universally applied cladding was a point of interest too. “We like to explore how one material can be pushed. In this case, how it can be [used as] fence, building, garden framing, entry portal,” Mitchell says. “When you have a single material employed in different scenarios, you can see it respond in different ways. The cladding responds really well to shadow, and so it picks up different colours of the day.”

Three architectural firms – Retallack Thompson, Lineburg Wang and Preston Lane – were engaged to produce proposals for extensions on typical Australian dwellings.

Lynn Wang and Michael Lineburg of Brisbane-based Lineburg Wang harnessed shadow via a different approach. Conceptualising the extension of a pre-war cottage, Lineburg Wang used Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding to create layers, depth and shadow. The fibre cement panels are “pleated or layered from the top down,” Michael explains. This layered effect casts shadows across the textured fa ade, incorporating the subtle shadow lines of the shiplap panel joins into the building’s vernacular. Lineburg Wang was able to explore the notion of depth within the project, using the Hardie™ 9mm Aluminium External Slimline Corner to create a transitory space between indoors and out. As Lynn describes it, this sees “the product turning the corner and creating a deep entry threshold, much like an eave.”

For Hobart and Melbourne-based Preston Lane, the collaboration with James Hardie garnered a dynamic result. Extending on a classic Edwardian terrace that runs alongside a cobblestone laneway, Preston Lane designed a second-storey bedroom with a living area and courtyard below. Rather than cladding the fa ade traditionally, Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding was used to create a concertina wall, zigzagging alongside the laneway. The undulating fa ade fosters pockets of light and shadow across the building, courtesy of 1200-millimetre-wide panels of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding, which were cut vertically in half to form the concertina fa ade. Co-Director of Preston Lane Nathanael Preston explains that the beauty of this process lies within its simplicity. “It looks a bit complex, but it’s actually very standard,” he says. “All of those angles are 90 degrees, using the new Hardie™ 9mm Aluminium External Slimline Corner.”

Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding, is a pre-textured, fibre cement panel with endless potential. Being made from fibre cement, the panels are lightweight and easy to handle.

From deceptive simplicity to structural shadows to a gentle diffusion of light, the collaborative series has proven Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding to be versatile and expansive – a material whose application seems to know no bounds.