A boutique residential apartment building in Chatswood, Sydney sits comfortably within its natural bushland landscape with a modern façade created using carefully selected materials in a neutral palette.

Located in the heart of Chatswood, the contemporary development, 18 at Chatswood is a seven-storey building designed by Mayoh Architects and built by Novati Constructions. It comprises of an exclusive selection of one and two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom penthouses, privately situated in a lush cul-de-sac.

Featuring a smart façade design, the apartment building stands as an example of overcoming the ongoing challenges for architects, developers and builders in protecting a building from all-weather elements and finding a balance between water and condensation management, air-tightness and non-combustibility, while maintaining style and design aesthetics.

For the building design, Novati Constructions took inspiration from the site’s specific conditions, orientation and neighbourhood. As its topographic condition is located in a gully, the building and landscape needed to relate to the neighbourhood’s bushland environment, have privacy and amenity to neighbouring properties and incorporate solar access while also accommodating stormwater and overland flow prevalent on the site.

Novati’s choice of finishes featuring a predominantly neutral palette aimed to give the residential building a modern look while enabling it to look like a natural extension of the surrounding bushland. This was achieved using a mix of white render, charcoal grey render and metal teamed with James Hardie’s ExoTec Vero concrete-look cladding and natural timber.

The large surfaces on the building’s eastern façade required a design that would reduce the bulk scale of the building while providing contrast against other aspects. ExoTec Vero, the newly launched prefinished cladding product from James Hardie Australia was the chosen product due to its easy and quick installation, low maintenance requirements and visual appeal from its resemblance to in-situ concrete.

“The results of using ExoTec Vero have been outstanding. Not only was it an easy installation, but the concrete colour has minimised ongoing maintenance costs. ExoTec Vero makes the building visually appealing for residents and visitors of the local community,” says Novati project manager Anthony Melia.

James Hardie’s RAB board was used for this project in conjunction with ExoTec Vero.

“The combination of ExoTec Vero and RAB board is a great system that is Building Code Australia (BCA) compliant for non-combustible façade elements and provides excellent weather resistance,” continues Melia. This resistance to harsh weather was observed in the lack of water leaks during Sydney’s major storm period in February 2020.

The latest product released by James Hardie, RAB board comes from the company’s extensive innovation and research into durable and resilient façade design in response to the building industry's changing requirements for high-performance weather barriers.

A rigid air barrier that is installed beneath external cladding or ventilated facades, RAB board is made from James Hardie’s premium fibre cement and sealed with the innovative CoreShield penetrating sealer technology, keeping water, air and wind out, while allowing moisture vapour to easily escape, enabling a building’s framing cavity to drain and dry.

This unique green panel provides a fully-certified solution that offers superior defence against wind and moisture with superior water resistance, long-term durability and strength, and is also suitable for use in non-combustible construction.

“Smart façade design is key to compliance and performance, ensuring a building is fit for purpose and is protected from the elements. A façade solution that includes RAB board offers protection and peace of mind by improving building performance and the comfort levels for occupants,” said James Hardie product manager Timothy Elliot.

Easily integrating with James Hardie’s fully-certified ExoTec façade system as well as other commercial cladding systems, RAB board is an ideal ‘all-in-one’ weather barrier for apartments, institutional buildings, commercial applications and energy-efficient homes.

“RAB board is lightweight and easy for sub-contractors to work with. The time savings for the RAB board are not found at the beginning of the job but prior to installing the ExoTec Vero as there is no going back to patch torn sarking. Once the ExoTec board has been installed, its job is finished,” Melia concluded.