Fibre Cement Slates help transform historic Coventry street

The team working on the £30+ million transformation of Far Gosford Street in Coventry has specified Marley Eternit’s fibre cement slates to create continuity between the old and the new on the latest phase of the regeneration project.

The Far Gosford Regeneration Initiative is a ten year programme managed by Coventry City Council and Complex Development Projects (CDP) to regenerate the most intact historical street to survive the bombing and post-war reconstruction.  The area based initiative has received major financial support from Heritage Lottery Fund and European Regional Development Fund. The initial work saw the restoration of several listed buildings and the creation of FarGo Village, a creative quarter with independent shops, markets and studio spaces to drive the economics of the area.  More recently Harrabin Construction as design and build contractor, their architects PCPT and CDP have continued the transformation with a courtyard development which has involved the restoration of another important listed building, a new oak framed replica building and two stand alone new build commercial offices.

The contractor and architect chose Marley Eternit’s Thrutone fibre cement slates in two different colours for use on both the roof and the facade of the new offices to create a timeless aesthetic.  The intersecting forms of Stone Green and Blue Black slates, which make up the facade, are obviously modern but have reference to the traditional slate cladding of buildings. The steep double pitched roofs of over 45° pick up on the local historic character of long thin rear extensions built within the narrow medieval plots. The blue black slates were also selected for reroofing some of the adjacent rebuilds in order to help unify buildings of differing heritage and character around the newly created courtyard. Both the restoration and new build elements of the project were built by local contractor Harrabin Construction Ltd.

Chris Fenter from PCPT Architects, comments: “As these were new builds set back from the historic street frontage and fronting the major dual carriageway approach to the city centre, we were able to use contemporary materials.  We chose fibre cement slates for both the roof and facade of the new offices because we wanted to create a strong, solid aesthetic with very clean lines and a low profile.  We specified the Thrutone slates because they were the most cost effective way we could achieve the desired appearance and because the range offered a good selection of colours. Marley Eternit provided lots of samples because colour choice was so important for this project. The real advantage on this project is the lightweight nature of the materials. The structure is timber SIPS panels and the use of Thrutone has allowed us to produce buildings that look very solid but are actually light and quick to build.” 

Chris Patrick, Conservation Officer from Coventry City Council added: “I have been very pleased with the approach taken both by Harrabin and PCPT in the design of these buildings which have generated much positive comment.   The architect has managed to do something which is very hard to achieve – to design buildings that are obviously modern but yet which fit so well into the historic environment and create an interface between the Listed buildings and a major dual carriageway.  The Marley slates and the steep roof pitches are the key design elements that make this so successful.”

Charlotte Hughes, product manager from Marley Eternit, adds: “We’re pleased that our fibre cement slates have been specified as part of such an important regeneration scheme.  This project demonstrates the flexibility of fibre cement slate - from creating a cost effective contemporary facade to its ability to blend in with and replicate the look of natural slate.  FarGo 2 is an example of the way that fibre cement slates can provide continuity between buildings and between roofs and facades. 

“The fact that we have such a breadth of colours and types of fibre cement slates in our range is one of the reasons architects continue to specify the products when looking to create inspirational designs.”

Thrutone is a cost effective lightweight fibre cement slate that can be used to create striking roofs and facades.  It is now available in eight colours and three shapes to give even more design flexibility. 

As part of Marley Eternit’s fibre cement range, Thrutone boasts industry leading sustainability credentials, including a low carbon footprint of just 13 CO2e /m2 (based on 600 x 300 slate at 100mm lap), certification to the BES 6001 standard for Responsible Sourcing  and the ability to achieve the lowest environmental rating (A+) in the BRE Green Guide.  Fibre cement also offers sustainability benefits throughout its whole life cycle, as it can be fully recycled at the end of its use.  Waste fibre cement can be ground down and used to replace limestone and shale in clinker production, the essential ingredients for Portland cement.