During one of our meetings, we started discussing possible materials for the house. I like the concept of using materials in their natural state. I wanted the exterior finishes of the house to be both low-maintenance and to work with nature, not against it. As an example, if you take a yellowish cedar plank and put it outside without any treatment, it will eventually weather and turn a shade of grey. That's what happens to it if you let nature do its work. One can fight nature by applying a clearcoat on the wood every year to keep its color, but at some point, nature will win. I wanted to use something that didn't require that kind of upkeep.
The guys at Pb were totally with me on this idea and they showed me two materials that follow this concept. The first is corten steel. This is a special alloy of steel that is designed to rust on the outside. It's often used in large public works projects and doesn't need to be coated or protected. The oxidized surface acts a layer of protection for the steel underneath. It starts out greyish, but eventually turns to a rich brownish-red over time.
The second material they showed me was charred cedar. This is normal cedar wood that has been torched so that the surface is black. The charred carbon layer on the cedar protects the wood underneath and doesn't fade when exposed to the elements. This technique was apparently used in traditional Japanese architecture.
When they showed me both of those materials, I immediately fell in love with them. It would be a perfect combo for the exterior of the house.
The house also has three other materials which follow the "natural" concept: concrete, aluminum, and glass. Those don't need any other explanation. I think together they compliment each other really well and are all zero-maintenance. The house should actually look better as it weathers over time. That's a new concept!
Here's what it all looks like together: