Home > American Clay, Architectural products, Natural finishes, Restoration > Sheltered Mica Village Open-Air Lobby is Sweet on American Clay

Sheltered Mica Village Open-Air Lobby is Sweet on American Clay

Lobby Entrance to Mica Village Lofts

A few years ago a customer purchased clay for an outdoor lobby entry area  for the  interesting  Mica Village Lofts project in Asheville.  I’ve dropped by the Mica Village several times  and am pleased to report that the finish continues to perform beautifully.  I love what was accomplished with the entire building and the colors of the old factory standing tall against the village condos is an artistic canvas in itself.

Restoration at It's Best

This outdoor lobby area is roofed and protected so it doesn’t experience direct water, but as you can see only about ten feet away there can be a torrential downpour of rain or blowing snow and the moisture that circulates throughout the area simply breathes in and out of the finish as moisture is simply a good companion to the time honored clay.  The restored iron window frames have no panes and invite the breezes into the space.

Prior to the renovation,  the building was in near ruins as the French Broad River flood rampaged through the entire lower area. Condo spaces are now in use at a second level above the flood plain. Parking and the lobby area are at the ground level. The building includes salvaged architectural elements of the original Mica Factory and is an environmental success story.   Over 60% of the building materials used in this project were reclaimed from the original Mica Plant.

From time to time I hear from someone that works with other finish materials that express- yes- you can spray with a fire hose.  Well, though you can’t spray clay plaster with a fire hose it can be compressed to be a very hard finish. I love the clay because it lives and breathes with the environment,  the pigment is integral throughout the product, and can be easily repaired  with extra clay from the project. For commercial and high traffic locations, there are additional options including the use of natural binders and clay with additional aggregate. In a setting where there WILL be frequent child’s sticky fingers running along the wall we sealed two restaurant walls approaching a restroom area at our friend’s Artisan Catering Restaurant. We didn’t hesitate to apply clay above my tiled shower walls in two different bathrooms where on a daily basis moisture is it’s friend.

Here’s a  moisture demonstration from American Clay  if you’d like to see how moisture behaves  in a 1×1 foot box that is painted, versus one that has clay.

For more information about  American Clay visit our showroom. We offer workshops as well.

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  1. February 15, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    I love what they’ve done with Mica Village Lofts, too. For those of you who don’t already know, this actually was a mica processing plant, Asheville Schoonmaker Mica Company, next to the Swannanoa River, very close to the Historical Biltmore Village. The old, abandoned building sat in a brownfield. Brownfields are areas that are unsuitable for building for a number of possible reasons. So, if you can figure out a way to turn an ugly, old building in an unsuitable building area into a wonderful place to live, you’re really doing some great recycling!

    Because the site is in a flood danger area, the ground level is for parking and not living. The lofts start at the second level. Much of the building materials used in the lofts came from the original building – not just the wood, but some really clever things like they smashed up the old windows and used the green-tinted glass in the custom concrete counter tops. They then took the old metal window frames and used them to frame the bathroom mirrors.

    With a little ingenuity, you can recycle and design some wonderful living areas!

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