Turning black into a highlight: a bold choice for a young couple’s contemporary home
Shortly after Thomas Pieters and Nathalie Timmermans decided to build their own house in Halle, a small Belgian town 10 miles south of Brussels, they had already made up their minds about three features: a contemporary style inside and out, a ‘net zero energy’ efficiency level and façades that would play with more than one finish – for added originality and visual impact.
“White stucco was a given, but we wanted to complement it with a material that would create a strong, attractive contrast”, explains Thomas Pieters. “This could definitely have been dark wood, but my brother had run into a ton of problems with his house’s wood cladding, and we were not keen to deal with the same kind of issues”. Nathalie Timmermans continues: “We had decided to work with P2Architecten in Gooik. They are the ones who came up with Trespa® Meteon® as an alternative material. We liked their proposal at first sight; throughout the design process, they really kept us involved, and every decision was well considered”. Trespa® Meteon® façade panels are so-called High Pressure Laminate (HPL). They have been engineered for strength, durability and high weather resistance. This extends – beyond the material itself – to the colours and finishes, which are ‘sealed in’ by a proprietary surface treatment involving Electron Beam Curing technology (EBC).
Betting on black – right away
As this stage, the couple still considered a finish that would be reminiscent of wood. But a dark, solid colour would, on the other hand, play perfectly with the dark window frames, thus reinforcing the elegant, minimalistic look-and-feel of the concept. Nathalie comments: “We went on the Trespa website, where we could visualise all the options, and we ordered several Meteon® samples. When we received them, one particular finish immediately caught our attention – Metropolis Black”. Being part of Trespa’s new Lumen collection, Metropolis Black is available in a choice of three finish options – Diffuse, Oblique and Specular. Each of them makes the most, in its own way, of the material’s ability to interact with light. Both Thomas and Nathalie were drawn to the Diffuse finish. They liked the low light reflectivity of the cladding panels: regardless of the light’s intensity and direction, the cladding panels keep their subdued, smooth sheen. While looking almost matt, this subtle finish maximises the cladding panels’ rich and consistent depth of colour.
Enduringly beautiful, surprisingly versatile
Thomas points out: “We are just as happy now as we were when the construction was completed, four years ago. Some parts of the façades are in the shade, others are exposed to the sun. But there is still no colour difference at all. I have actually saved a piece of panel from the leftovers as a control sample: it confirms that our Trespa® Meteon® façade panels have stayed absolutely pristine”. He adds: “Something else, though, plays a part in the attractive, like-new look of the façade panels: there is hardly any dirt build-up. The panels are really low-maintenance. All we do is clean them twice a year using nothing but warm water!”.
In addition, Nathalie finds the panels’ versatility captivating: “Being able to use Meteon® panels on our folding overhead garage door and on the entrance door to the house were great additional benefits; they allowed us to incorporate both features seamlessly into the design. This really rounded off the clean, contemporary façades we had in mind from the start. With many other cladding materials, such a seamless integration wouldn’t have been possible”.
Sustainable through and through
While nothing can be termed sustainable that is not durable in the first place, Thomas finds the material’s environmental profile particularly appealing. For him, it is a key factor in the sustainability of Trespa® Meteon®: “We indeed liked the fact that Meteon® panels are made of 70% natural fibres derived from wood, which is a renewable resource and a carbon sink at the same time. And down the road, as components of our ventilated façades, the panels helped us achieve our ‘zero net energy’ goal. We used high-performance insulation for the stuccoed areas and the ventilated façade panels. In the latter case, the material was installed within the wooden sub-framing. The system leaves an air gap between the insulation and the Meteon® panels, which allows for the required airflow that prevents any moisture from building up and improves temperature regulation”. Thomas brings it to the point: “We were really intent on complying with zero net energy standards, in order to be eligible for the five-year tax exemption available to qualifying homeowners in Flanders. This meant that the house had to be airtight and very well insulated. We even did a blower door test to make sure we meet the government’s requirements”.
An appealing choice – even for total strangers!
In many countries, including Belgium, a dense and well-established network of distributors makes the Trespa® product range widely available. Experienced installers are equally easy to find, as Nathalie Timmerans points out: “There is no lack of qualified specialists when it comes to installing Trespa®products, and our architect made some recommendations of his own about whom we could get in touch with”.
She concludes: “Finally, we chose to work with a relative who had very good carpentry and building skills, but no pre-existent knowledge of how to install a ventilated façade with Trespa® Meteon®panels”. Thomas underscores: “The Trespa.info website made all the steps very clear, and the installation proved fairly straightforward – including cutting the cladding panels to size right on the building site. In the end, the whole operation was a big success. As soon as we moved in, we even had people ringing the bell to learn more about the panels we had used for our façades – which was a rather unexpected side-effect of the project!”.