Soft building skins: Rubber sheeting and architectural carpeting for facades
Text: Bettina Sigmund
With their muted edges and unusually soft surfaces materials such as rubber sheeting and architectural carpets are creating new design possibilities as building skins. While the materials are widely known as truck tarps or shoulder bags, or are often encountered as artificial turf at sports grounds or in the design of interior spaces, their use as weather-resistant façade coverings is something new. Gasser Fassadentechnik of St. Gallen, Switzerland, is now offering rubber sheeting and architectural carpeting as sustainable facade materials.
EPDM rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber) is an extremely versatile and flexible material. Not only is it weather-resistant and suitable for sealing purposes, it also remains a valuable proposition over decades, offers lasting UV resistance and has fire class B1, meaning it is difficult to ignite. The synthetic rubber material can be recycled without any difficulty – after its use phase it can be shredded into granules for further processing into other products.
In the opinion of the planners at Gasser Fassadentechnik, EPDM rubber is thus an ideal material for facades, inspiring them to various design associations. Whether in the classical design of truck tarps or in the form of simple black sheeting with visible fastening elements, the material opens up creative new design dimensions. EPDM rubber is produced in roll form and with a thickness of 1. 3 mm. The sheets can be up to 2 metres in length, thus enabling seamless, homogenous surfacing. In façade use, the rubber is cut to shape in the factory and then mounted on site. In order to achieve facades with an upholstery effect, welded rubber sheeting is fixed to the building or substructure with clamp devices.
A further unaccustomed facade look can be achieved with artificial turf. While textile facades are basically nothing new, a facade that has the look of a big comfy cushion is nevertheless quite unaccustomed. So far classic green artificial turf has been used for sports grounds or indoor solutions, but now this sturdy surface covering can be used in the design of indoor and outdoor spaces in horizontal and vertical applications. The architectural carpet in fresh new colours by Tosca Tiara is the first artificial turf to also offer expanded possibilities for façade design. The 32 mm-thick artificial turf covering is weather-proof, extremely durable and UV-resistant. These two "misappropriated" or "new-use" materials give rise to the hope that they will soon be finding more interesting applications than use as roofing membranes or at sports grounds.