Three weeks ago I wrote a post entitled “Weathered” in which I described ways that people deal with the weathering of typical cladding materials on their homes or other buildings. I was interested in observing and researching varying approaches, because over this last semester I’ve been formulating my own approach to developing properties for a material that weathers naturally over time. During my research for this project, I stumbled upon a material that has properties very close to the things that I think are important for a material designed to weather.
ROCKPANEL Natural is a product of ROCKPANEL, which is a company within the ROCKWOOL Group, “the world’s leading supplier of products and solutions produced from stone wool.” ROCKPANEL produces cladding systems made from basalt, a volcanic rock. Most of the panel-cladding products are produced to resist weathering. ROCKPANEL Natural, however has an unfinished surface left to weather from sun exposure over time. The panel’s coloring starts out with a golden yellow color and after six weeks, patinas to a bronze. The below image shows a pavilion/eatery that is clad in the material with the side exposed to the sun and other elements weathered to the bronze and the interior still golden yellow.
I appreciate the design of this material, embracing the fact that the elements will have an effect on its appearance when use as cladding on a building. The product description also talks about abrasion occurring on the surface – this will open a ‘wound’ in the material revealing the original yellow color that eventually weathers to bronze again, evening out with the rest of the panel. One critique that I have is that the panel goes from new to weathered in only six weeks. I am interested in something that might weather and continue to change throughout its life cycle. ROCKPANEL Natural requires abrasive cleaning in order to see any change, whereas the ideal properties would allow for all natural dynamism in weathering.