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Article Date: 21st August 2017

James Hardie - When it Comes to Residential Exteriors, New Colour Palette Research from James Hardie Shows Consumer Taste is Not All Black & White

Residential Exteriors - Fibre Cement Weatherboard - Light Blue Weatherboard

James Hardie - Residential Exteriors

Fashion is fleeting but classics are forever in vogue when considering colour on a residential new build or refurbishment, according to British design giant Prof. Will Alsop OBE RA.

The world-renowned architect and director of aLL Design has been working with leading fibre cement weatherboard manufacturer James Hardie as the creative team brainstorms future colour trends for the housebuilding sector.

And the partnership has unearthed some fascinating discoveries and shifts in trends around UK home design.

"Architecture is not fashion. Yes, there are cyclical trends but these changes happen in slow cycles," said Alsop.

"Classic is what you want to aim for. Classics do not go ‘out of fashion’."

A long-time exponent of bold colour on his own projects, which include the Sharp Centre of Design at Ontario College of Arts & Design and the Stirling prize winning Peckham Library in London, Alsop stands by the theory that colour should be a key consideration placed at the heart of every design.

He said: "Colour is important. It becomes part of the architecture. It is not just something that is applied, it is central to the creative concept."

Extensive James Hardie colour research has noted an emerging trend towards monochrome and muted design styles over the last five years, with architects opting to create elegant design statements in black, grey, white and off-white hues, in line with changing tastes of homeowners.

In the last year, monochrome shades have accounted for over 70% of all cladding sales. Five years ago, the same palette would have accounted for just under 50%.

From the Hardie colour palette, Arctic White - a pure white - Soft Green and Light Mist (off-whites with hints of pastel blue and green) make up more than a third of all the company’s UK sales today.

Providing the perfect palette architects and home builders need to deliver the ultimate design dream underpins the James Hardie mission.

Rob Windle, James Hardie’s European commercial director explained: "As a leading materials manufacturer, we believe in developing products that will give architects the maximum design flexibility, not just in following the current design trends but in paving the way for future innovation.

"For us, colour choice in facade design is a key part of this. Colour palettes are changing and we aim to provide the right tools to design homes that will last for generations to come.

"Over the past decade, we have seen a real design shift taking place in the UK residential sector. The muted brick and block-style housing of the 1990s has been replaced with mixed-use building products and accents in next-generation smart materials such as fibre cement. The use of colour is also an increasingly important design consideration."

The new Hardie research is showing homeowners are increasingly seeing the exterior of their home as an opportunity to make a personal design statement, much like the interior of their house. This is resulting in more flexible briefs for architects, lending the freedom to design with more colour creativity in mind.

And this shift is producing some stunningly bold results, with mixing colours, materials and installation techniques including horizontal, vertical and even diagonal cladding.

James Hardie - Residential ExteriorsPopular material blends comprise red and yellow brick with render, cladding or hanging tiles; render and cladding; wood and fibre cement or metallic cladding together – mixing of natural materials and advanced technology now another emerging trend James Hardie is observing.

Housebuilders are being braver too - top developers are paving the way with design statements. Berkeley Homes’ 750 house village development at Green Park in Reading boasts seven different coloured facades currently under construction, with more colours to come.

Monochrome might be leading the way in terms of volume, but it’s not an entirely black and white picture when it comes to UK house design.

Blue is becoming increasingly popular with sales of lighter and darker shades doubling over the past three years.

Sales of reds and greens are down by 20% while browns, previously integral to achieving an authentic wood effect, now account for less than 10% of all Hardie sales.

And the James Hardie colour research is showing greater diversity in palette choices across the UK, with huge difference in preference separated only by a few miles.

After white, one of the biggest sellers in Essex is Midnight Black, accounting for nearly a quarter of all James Hardie sales there. Yet in neighbouring Kent, it is one of the least used Hardie shades.

Elegant light blue weatherboard Light Mist has doubled its sales in Essex, but in Devon it is rarely used. These differences can to some extent be explained by environment, not just fashion trends.

According to James Miller, buyer at Bellway Homes Kent office, "There are local differences in the colours we choose for facade cladding. This is mostly connected to environmental characteristics. For instance, in the South East, where we have many leafy suburbs, we would tend to avoid green shades as this would cause housing to ‘blend in’ too much to the surroundings, rather than providing a contrast. Ultimately we aim for the best colours to complement the natural environment."

One consistent colour choice, however, no matter which county is the consistent desire for pastels in coastal areas. Creams, pale blues and greens still dominate coastal sales, reinforcing how classic British seaside chic doesn’t look set to go out of style any time soon.

Photographs courtesy of Hundven-Clements Photography.

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