Did you know that rubber actually used to grow on trees? Originally, rubber was made from liquid latex, extracted from rubber trees, which coagulated to form a strong and elastic substance. Today, rubber is produced with a mixture of natural and synthetic materials but the results are the same.
Rubber is a miraculous material that’s durable, colorfast, sound deadening, impervious to water and fire resistant. It’s also a highly versatile building product that can be molded into almost any shape, rolled into paper thin sheets or even liquefied for spray-on applications. This collection, sourced from the Architizer database, features projects that are coated in rubber to ensure their façades never tire.
This vacation home, located on the island of Texel, just off the coast of the Netherlands, uses unconventional materials to pay homage to the island’s past. The shape of the home is modeled after the ‘schapenboeten,’ or farm sheds, which originally dotted the rural landscape. The walls and roof were constructed with prefabricated, composite wood panels and sprayed with Liquid Rubber HB S-200 to create a waterproof finish. Layers of colorful nets, a nod to the fisherman who first inhabited the island, were then laid over the black rubber, giving the façade a playful appearance.
As the name suggests, Passive House in a Diving Suit is an incredibly energy efficient home, skinned in rubber sealing foil. This membrane, like a wetsuit, creates an air-tight building envelope. The walls underneath the rubber are constructed with cross-laminated timber panels, which are left exposed on the interior. Rock-wool batts sandwiched between panels and triple-glazed windows ensure that the home remains highly insulated.
Riverview Way consists of a mid-century brick home and a second floor addition of angular, black volumes. At first glance, the contemporary addition appears to be a classic mansard roof, covered in slate shingles. In actuality, these unusually-shaped volumes are clad in EcoStar shingles, manufactured from 80% post-industrial recycled rubber. The addition is accessed via a black plywood staircase, which descends into the living room like “landing gear on an… alien spacecraft.”
The CDGIA, located in the Sart-Tilman science park in Belgium, was built on a tight budget, using low-cost, industrial materials. To minimize maintenance, the roof is eave-less and covered in black sheets of rubber. In contrast, the façades are clad in polycarbonate panels, which flood the interior with natural light and cause the center to glow like a beacon at night. On the interior, channel glass partitions, polished concrete flooring and corrugated steel ceilings continue the industrial aesthetic.
Soundhouse is home to the University of Sheffield’s music department and contains a number of acoustically-sensitive spaces, including several rehearsal rooms and recording studios. To prevent noise pollution from interfering with the program, the exterior is wrapped in a thick, vulcanized rubber. Each façade is clad in a single, half-ton sheet of rubber, composed of several small sheets which were welded together off-site. The cladding is affixed to the building with stainless steel studs, which give the rubber a unique, tufted appearance.
This beach house was designed in the tradition of ‘squatter architecture,’ the low cost constructions prevalent around Dungeness Beach. The simple timber-framed structure is sheathed, inside and out, in Wisa-Spruce plywood, harvested from responsibly managed forests. The exterior is clad in an EPDM rubber membrane, which contrasts beautifully with the vintage, aluminum Airstream parked out front. In addition to being weatherproof, the black rubber also absorbs and retains heat throughout the day, making the home comfortable on cold winter nights.
Belly of the Beast, a temporary pavilion in New Zealand, was inspired by Jeremy Till, the architect who famously once said ‘all architecture is building waste in transit.’ The abstract structure, nearly 40-feet tall and covered in shredded truck tires, was likened to everything from a black tree to a ‘furry beast.’ The entire interior was painted red, including the wooden ladder which led up to a small viewing platform at the top. As planned, after one year, the pavilion was disassembled and the tires were recycled into rubber chips for the stables of a local equestrian club.